Elkin Board of Commissioners continuing work on budget for 2017-18 fiscal year

By Beanie Taylor - Beanietaylor@civitasmedia.com

During the budget workshops for the town of Elkin, commissioners gathered with various department heads including Town Manager and Finance Director John Holcomb to discus every aspect of the budget for fiscal year 2017-18.

Among the specific items discussed was outside agency funding. Nonprofit organizations submit a request to the town for funds which partially support their efforts. Some of groups such as the Elkin Valley Trails Association do not limit their activities to the town of Elkin.

“I don’t think it’s fair for us to spend town money to develop the trail outside of town limits,” declared Elkin Mayor Sam Bishop to the agreement of the board.

Commissioner Terry Kennedy stated, “If you are spending town money, the town should be very much in control of what is being done with it.”

“I want to be able to tell my constituents what is being done with their money,” agreed Commissioner Dr. Skip Whitman. “I want the trails to get that money, I just don’t want to give it to them free and clear.

“What I’d rather do is put it in the capitol reserve funds,” explained Whitman. “I don’t want to take money away from the trail, I want to save it for down the road when the bridge washes out or something.”

Because the trails go through Elkin Municipal Park, the EVTA often does projects in conjunction with Recreation and Parks Director Adam McComb, who was asked how their financial process worked. “They do a project list at the beginning of the year,” explained McComb. “They do the projects then they come to us and we reimburse them.”

The Elkin Jaycees, Elkin Rescue Squad, Foothills Arts Council, Surry County Economic Development Partnership and Watershed NOW also can expect to have requests fulfilled, however Grace Clinic was not approved to receive funding from the town.

“[Grace Clinic] takes the burden off the E.R.,” alleged Commissioner Cicely McCulloch.

“I know that they provide a good service for the community,” conceded Holcomb, however, “I think that is best handled in most respects by private donations. I think that if we get involved [with Grace Clinic] we open ourselves up to all kinds of other requests. What do we do when Meals On Wheels makes a request?”

Whitman, who works with Grace Clinic as a doctor, explained the clinic to those assembled. “They have to qualify. They are screened through Tri-C[ounty Crisis Ministries],” though Whitman conceded, “Grace Clinic is sort of shrouded by some of the things that have happened in the past.”

Also in the past is Phase I of the Heritage Center. Economic Development Director Leslie Schlender described the division of Phase II. “We are now looking at embarking on Phase IIb,” informed Schlender, noting there are, “some expenses lingering from previous phases such as the sewer.

“We’re short about $52,750 to have a certifiably occupy-able building,” which should be this fall, claimed Schlender. “We’d end up with a complete shell with nothing to enhance it. I don’t want the chamber to move in there with an empty building.”

The total funding needed will be $307,078. “Once we complete this next phase, we’ll be looking at monies to complete [the project],” stated Schlender, who expects the Heritage Center to be, “totally finished first quarter of 2018 when we have those interactive displays.”

The mayor reminded Schlender to consider the outdoor venue needs of Explore Elkin when planning the landscaping at the center. Sidewalks and roads also will impact the center as well as Explore Elkin activities.

“A sidewalk, curb and gutter needs to be put in,” stated Schlender to the agreement of Public Works Director Robert Fuller who recently estimated the cost of such a project.

“At the very minimum you have to curb and gutters. We went from the railroad track to Commerce with a curb and gutter on one side; curb, gutter and sidewalk on the other side,” described Fuller. “The cost will be about $55,000. I do not have money [in the budget] to make that happen before June 30.”

McCulloch suggested investigating the cost of a curb and trail instead of sidewalk which was appreciated as the idea of the trail continuing to the town.

“We’re prepared to do it, can you help?” asked Schlender.

“That area needs to be repaved,” stated Whitman. “It’s the entrance to our town. It needs to be done before Bridge Street.”

Bishop agreed, “If we’re going to do this right, then we need to do this before Bridge Street gets paved.”

The board agreed the curb, gutter and sidewalk should be paid for from the 2016-17 General Fund.

Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.

By Beanie Taylor


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