A vacant seat remains on the Halifax Town Council following the resignation of councilman Mike Trent, and council is moving forward with plans to fill that vacancy.
Council at its Tuesday evening business meeting voted to set a time and a date to consider and make an appointment for that vacancy – Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.
As of Tuesday’s meeting, town manager Carl Espy said one qualified candidate had applied for the at-large seat on town council. To qualify for the open council seat, an applicant must be a registered voter and resident of the town of Halifax. The deadline for candidates to apply for the open seat on council is 5 p.m. Friday.
The candidate appointed by council to fill the vacant seat will serve in that role until a special election is held in November 2022. The elected candidate will serve out the remainder of Trent’s term on council, which is set to expire in December 2024. Trent, who is an attorney in the town of Halifax, announced his resignation from town council at the August council meeting, sharing his family’s plans to move to Charlotte County.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, council amended the town’s budget for the current fiscal year to account for receipt of American Rescue Plan Act funds. The town’s receipt of $627,698 in ARPA funds takes the budget from $1,351,310 to $1,979,008.
Council voted 4-0 to amend the budget following a public hearing in which no one spoke. Councilman Bill Covington, chair of the finance committee, made the motion to amend the budget and councilwoman Janice Powell seconded the motion. Councilman Malcolm Bowen was absent from the meeting.
Espy presented a projection of expense categories for the town’s ARPA funds to council at the work session preceding the regular business meeting. According to those projections, the town will spend $408,003 of the funds on economic recovery, $62,770 on broadband Internet, $62,770 on infrastructure, $31,385 on housing, $31,385 on essential workers and $31,385 on contingency. Contingency might fall into any of the other categories, or it might include public health, Espy explained. The town manager also elaborated on the 5% allocation for housing, and ways those funds could assist housing projects the town already has in the works.
“We are already kicking off one housing rehabilitation project. We’re also looking at an analysis of impact to our existing housing stock for another grant project,” Espy shared
The town anticipates receipt of a $3,000 planning grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for the Town of Halifax Banister Town Housing Rehabilitation Project to renovate low-to-moderate income housing in the northeastern part of town. Espy shared that the town also is conducting a housing market analysis community impact assessment study, which will take stock of all types of housing in the town of Halifax, including unique housing opportunities such as loft apartments. Moving forward, a portion of the ARPA funds could be used to supplement that housing study.
In other action, council voted to approve a resolution declaring Saturday as “Halifax County Community Clean Up Day.” Vice-mayor Gail Bosiger made a motion to approve the resolution, and councilman Jack Dunavant seconded the motion.
During its work session, council also discussed plans to continue to gather community input on a Virginia Department of Transportation-Michael Baker International Halifax Transportation Traffic Safety and Operations Study. That study examines traffic and pedestrian safety in the main corridors of the town of Halifax, including pedestrian crosswalks and the Highway 501 railroad crossing.
“This study is the main corridor through town, plus all of the key intersections that are either entering town or somewhat close to entering town,” Mayor Dexter Gilliam reminded council.
Community members previously had an opportunity to provide input on traffic safety in an online survey, and 307 people responded to that survey. Council agreed to ask Michael Baker to open up another online survey for a couple of weeks to gain community input on the traffic safety study, and to offer the opportunity for community members to express their thoughts on traffic safety in the town of Halifax during a public, in-person meeting sometime in early December.
At the work session, assistant town manager Denise Barksdale also gave an update on derelict/nuisance properties and the status of delinquent real estate tax sites. Barksdale said the town had cited between seven and 10 additional derelict/nuisance properties since mid-September, and several property owners have already begun cleanup of those properties. She also shared with council that 32 delinquent real estate tax parcels had been listed for sale, and since that listing, four property owners had paid for those parcels in full.
“That’s a great job,” Dunavant commented. “It’s been needed for a long time, and I’m glad to see you stepping up to the plate.”
Halifax police chief Stuart Comer also gave the police department report for the month of September at Tuesday’s meeting.
In September, the police department made seven felony arrests and five misdemeanor arrests, made one medical transport, responded to 412 calls for service, issued 50 traffic summons and 29 warnings for miscellaneous violations, Comer said. The department issued 28 traffic citations in the North Main Street area of town.