A proposal to increase the salaries of emergency services (EMS) personnel is on the agenda for the South Boston Town Council’s work session-joint committee meeting. Council is set to meet at 5:45 p.m. Monday at the Washington Coleman Community Center at 1927 Jeffress Blvd.

Town manager Tom Raab plans to present the staff recommended increase in the town’s EMS personnel salaries to council. In his proposal, Raab notes the South Boston Police Department and the South Boston Fire Department have had difficulty recruiting applicants in recent years, and the goal of raising the EMS staff’s salaries is to make South Boston more competitive with other agencies in the region.

The recommendation is to increase the starting annual salary of a South Boston police officer from $35,000 to $40,000 and the annual starting salary of a South Boston firefighter/ EMT from $32,000 to $37,000.

The proposed salary increase will cost the town an estimated $25,000 this fiscal year, and funds are available to cover the increase, Raab plans to inform council in his proposal. The increases would be effective starting April 1.

Raab said the proposed increase will mark the third time the town has adjusted EMS personnel’s salaries since he became the town manager in summer 2015, and he foresees potentially having to make another EMS salary adjustment in the next two years to remain competitive with other agencies in the area.

A proposed solar project also is on the agenda for Monday’s meeting. The applicant, South Boston CSG LLC on behalf of Dimension Renewable Energy, is proposing an approximate 5.4 Megawatts of direct current/ 4.0 Megawatts of alternate current community solar array on parcels of land off U.S. Route 360/ James D. Hagood Highway in the town of South Boston.

Currently, there are no solar energy facilities in South Boston. At its June 2020 meeting, town council unanimously voted to amend the town’s zoning ordinance allowing solar energy facilities in rural residential agricultural districts by special use permit. At the time, the town already had a prospective solar developer in the works. But that development never came to fruition.

Each solar facility wishing to operate in the town of South Boston is required to submit an application for a special use permit for council’s approval. A public hearing also will be held prior to the approval of each application.

Those wishing to learn more about the proposed solar project are invited to attend a community open house Monday from noon until 5 p.m. at the South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History.

Other items on the council agenda under the current issues committee, chaired by vice-mayor Bob Hughes, are as follows:

• A public hearing on the comprehensive plan 2040 for the town of South Boston, set for April 7 at 6 p.m. in the Washington Coleman Community Center;

• Pre-contract documents for the North Main Street housing grant application;

• A recent amendment to the Code of Virginia moving local elections from May to November; and

• A report on unsafe and derelict structures in South Boston.

Other items on council’s agenda listed under the finance committee chaired by councilman Bill Snead, in addition to the increase in EMS salaries, are as follows:

• The town’s financial report for the month of February;

• A capital improvement budget for fiscal years 2021-2025; and

w Halifax County’s local sales tax overpayment to the town of South Boston in the amount of $265,302.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.