Photos courtesy of the Town of Christiansburg
During the presentations session of the Dec. 14 Christiansburg Town Council meeting, Scott Wickham, CPA/CFE, of Robinson, Farmer, and Cox Associates CPAs and Consultants presented the Christiansburg Annual Audit to town council and audience members, providing a good report of the previous year.
According to Wickham, revenues are outpacing expenditures, putting the town in a good financial position as they head into the new 2024 year.
“You can see you had about $26.8 million there available to you on June 30th, which is growing at just under 2 percent per year over that time period,” Wickham said. “So, it’s good to see you all were doing things for the town with parks and other new items and vehicles and things and still growing that fund balance a little bit of level there.”
Wickham also reported that one third of the operating expenditures are going to public safety as well as an increase reported in debt service.
“Your public safety expenditures are about $10.3 million,” Wickham said. “You will see a significant increase in your debt service this year. That relates to the new park bond you all have.”
Information Technology subscriptions are shown to be slowing down a bit, but compensation for sick leave may see some changes moving forward; however, this is not expected to be a significant adjustment, according to Wickham.
“The audit process went well and you’re in great financial shape,” Wickham said.
Police Chief Chris Ramsey also introduced two recent graduates from the police academy during the Christiansburg Town Council’s regular meeting. Nathan Lucas and Chandler Scott will be joining Christiansburg Police Department’s police staff where they will continue their training and in-processing.
The academy is typically 22 weeks long, with four 10-hour days, and involves classroom instruction, defensive tactics, shooting range and driving education. The Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy in Salem, Virginia, www.cardinalacademy.org, is the regional training location with several local police departments participating, such as the city of Salem, Virginia State Parks, and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office, among many other agencies, Captain Carson Altizer said in a phone interview.
“The field training program is based on a 12-step model, so they are riding with an officer,” Altizer said. “They complete a short shadow phase… before they are completely solo.”
The next session begins Jan. 2 with one person planning to attend, and another session happens in April. The Christiansburg Police Department is currently hiring additional officers and applications can be found under the Christiansburg Town website under the Employment tab.
Jeff Akers, of Christiansburg, spoke during the citizens’ comments portion of the meeting. He began by congratulating Kim Bowman and Johana Hicks but went on to express frustration over what he referred to as “two-tier leadership” in the town government.
“Everyone in the Town should be very concerned when the mayor comes to a polling site and accuses me of stealing Wendy Glass’s campaign signs in front of business polling, the busiest polling site in the town,” Akers said. “I also want to talk about the sign I used for my campaign. Randy Wingfield used the town cameras to track my location and then called the chief of police and have [sic] him call an officer to come out and tell me to please turn my sign off . . . I wasn’t breaking a law; I was breaking an ordinance.”
Joanne Price, a Blacksburg resident and business owner in Christiansburg also addressed the Council.
“I’m here tonight because I understand there is an amendment, a budget amendment, and there are some funds that are going to be voted on to be given to the museum,” Price said. “Two concerns that I have is number one, I was told that the museum is housing some town documents, historical documents, and that’s fine but the clerk’s office by law also holds historical documents so, why do we have them in two different places, number one?”
Price’s number two concern stated that it is by law the Clerk’s responsibility to care for those historical documents.
Price pointed out that the director of the museum is a current council member. Council member Casey Jenkins receives a salary as the museum director. Price suggested that the motion to provide the funds to be voted on for a HVAC system for the museum is tabled.
Christiansburg resident Chris Waltz also spoke against the museum amendment stating that council member Tanya Hockett is withholding her vote on the issue until Henry Showalter vacates his seat on the council.
“Apparently you also like to ignore your own code of ethics that says that you all are to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the laws and council members shall work for the common good of the people of Christiansburg and not for any private or personal interest,” Waltz said.
Council member Tanya Hockett made a motion to include a $10,000 award in the budget for the Wonder Universe Museum located in the Uptown Mall. Johana Hicks and Tim Wilson voted against the granting of funds, while Casey Jenkins, Samuel Bishop, and Tanya Hockett voted in support of the funding, carrying the vote to approval.
Hockett made another motion to approve funds to the Montgomery Museum of Art and History, with Councilman Bishop seconding the motion. Hicks suggested waiting for the next month to decide.
Council members Bishop and Hockett voted in support of the motion to fund the museum’s request for funds, and Hicks and Wilson voted against the motion, leaving the vote tied. Jenkins abstained from the vote and Showalter was not present.
According to the regulations of the Council, the mayor will break ties with his vote. Mayor Michael Barber voted in support of the funding, carrying an action of approval.
The council also unanimously voted to fund three requests for the 2023 Façade Grant Awards. According to the Christiansburg Town website at www.christiansburg.org, the program helps property or business owners improve the look and exterior of their locations. Eligible businesses can apply for the $4,500 matching grant through the town with the application provided on their website.