May 2022      

97th Edition              


I hope that this finds you and yours healthy, safe and enjoying the onset of spring. Hopefully the surprise snow falls of April are behind us and the warmer weather will soon be here to stay.

Even though our nights, and some days, remain chilly, the grass is growing and everywhere you look things are blooming. The sound of lawnmowers can be heard all around town and it looks like it is once again going to be a busy mowing season.

Every year around this time we remind you about the signs around Town instructing dog owners to clean up after their pets; as the signs point out it is the Law and must be obeyed year-round.  All of us, especially the Town Crew, are very appreciative of the pet owners that follow this law as we begin another mowing season. Finding a present that someone’s dog has left in the grass with a string-trimmer is never pretty. We have also heard that there are a number of dog owners not cleaning up after their pets in the Town Park. We have instructed the Town Deputies to be on the lookout for offenders and write them up when found. Please be considerate of others and clean up after your pets. IT’S A LAW folks, not a suggestion!

The opening of the Town Pool is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend.  The Shelters and Restrooms at the Park are already being used as well as the Playground.  We will be doing our daily cleaning of these areas, but do not have the staff to clean everything after every use. Please continue to use caution and good hand washing habits like you would anywhere else to keep yourself safe while enjoying the Park.  The Town is also discussing the hours of operation at the Town Park. We have been hearing about some after hours activities that we feel need to be addressed. We realize it is impossible for us to totally control the times that residents might visit our Park. But some of the later visitors aren’t there for what would be considered the right reason; and a set closing time will give the Deputies an enforceable reason to request these folks to leave the Park.

Skyline Street Rods are coming back to the Park again this year with a Car Show on Sunday, June 26th. This popular event will start at 9:00 am and always attracts a crowd to see all the vehicles which include antiques, street rods, custom cars, trucks and sport cars. There is sure to be something to please the car lover in us all.

You might have heard that the Edinburg Mill has become a Certified Virginia Visitor Center. This designation allows the Mill to have its brochure placed in all of the Virginia Welcome Centers free of charge. (Normally costs $1,188 per year) Edinburg will now receive bulk quantities of Virginia Tourism publications like The Virginia Travel Guide which will list the Mill as a primary source of visitor information starting this year. The Mill will also have a prominent listing on the Virginia Tourism’s website and access to Hospitality and Customer Service support for the Visitor Center Staff.

Being a Certified Visitor Center also allows Edinburg to have an additional sign on Interstate 81. We have requested the sign to say “Shenandoah County Tourist Information at the Edinburg Mill”. The Mill is already a major draw for our town and we expect the additional signage will draw even more visitors into Town. While they are here they will be able to visit our restaurants and other businesses and hopefully see reasons to come back and visit again.

If you have been following the newspaper articles over the past year, you know our Sewer Plant upgrade is moving along slower than we would like. Staffing at USDA Rural Development has been very slow at doing reviews and approvals that we need to keep the project moving forward. We were able to go out to bid at the end of December, 2021 and chose a contractor in January of 2022. The low bid was from WGK Construction out of Chantilly, Virginia. We have never worked with this firm, but we have learned that they are a very reputable contractor and should do a great job for us.

As expected, the bids for the Project came in higher than the original estimate. The total estimated cost for the Project had been $3,389,600, which included engineering, construction and other associated costs. We had secured a low (1.125%) interest loan for $2,503,000 and $886,600 grant to pay for this. The construction bid came in $822,400 higher than the estimate and this was the low bid. We have heard from USDA that they will fund the additional amount with a loan of $494,000 and a grant of $328,400. As I said above, we are still waiting to get construction approval from USDA. We will be holding a Public Hearing on Tuesday May 10, 2022 at 7:15 pm before our regular Town Council Meeting to receive comments on the adoption of a resolution to issue Bonds in the amount of $2,503,000 and $494,000 for the upgrade to the sewer plant.  Although it is unavoidable, this is a large amount for a town our size to take on.  Thankfully, we were able to secure grants totalling $1,215,000 to help pay for this required upgrade to the plant.

In addition to the Public Hearing for the Bonds, we will begin at 7:00 pm on May 10th with the Hearing for the Town Budget for 2022 and 2023. As always, there will be limited room in the Town Hall to hear resident’s comments. Please consider sending questions or comments on any of the proposed 2022-2023 Budget by email, US Mail or drop them at the Town Hall prior to the May 10th Public Hearing. Your comments will be shared with all of the Council members before, as well as during, the meeting. Email is town@shentel.net Mailing address is PO Box 85, and Phone is 984-8521

Preparing the 2022-2023 Budget has been a real challenge. Like all of you, we are very aware of the rising cost for everything and the operation of the Town is impacted every day by this. Things like Supplies, Chemicals, Fuel, Wages, Mandated Improvements, Insurance and Repairs seem to be increasing every day; and there are very few things that we can just stop doing. We did our best to keep increases to the minimum required.

The Monthly Minimum Sewer charge for 3,000 gallons is proposed with an increase of $1.83 for sewer for in town customers. This increase is a requirement of the Town’s funding through USDA Rural Development for the Sewer Plant upgrade. Out of town customers will see an increase of $2.75.

The Monthly Minimum for Water is proposed with an increase of $0.67 for in town and $1.01 for out of town customers. Operational and chemical costs continue to go up every year. We held off on a water increase last year; realistically, we should do at least a cost of living adjustment every year.

Dominion Energy notified all government entities that the municipal rate for Electric is going up by an average of 20%. We have been able to lower energy costs at the Water and Sewer Plants in recent years by more efficient operation. Our efforts still resulted in electric fees totaling $52,500 for the two Plants. This will increase to around $63,000 during the next 12 months.

An increase of $0.20 is proposed for Trash pick up this year. The Town’s 5 year contract for trash service has a built in cost of living increase that we must cover each year with our fees. We are afraid to ask if the increased fuel costs might further impact our fees. I’m not sure what kind of gas mileage a trash truck gets, but it can’t be very good. We are hoping to see our monthly tipping fees go down slightly as the Recycling Program continues to improve after the long time it was inactive during the pandemic.  The total Enterprise Fund (Water, Sewer and Trash) are proposed at $3,024,140. This is a big number, but it includes the funding for the Sewer Plant Upgrade as well as a few Water Improvements that will be paid for using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

There are very specific guidelines for what ARPA funds can be spent on. One of those things is improvements to water, and we have a number of projects that we hope to accomplish during the 2022-2023 Budget year. These include the completion of a water pump station to operate a 200,000 gallon ground storage tank that is currently off-line, additional water line replacement in Cave Springs and back-up generators for Well #2 and the water pump station. We have estimated these projects at $300,000.

There are no increases in Taxes or Fees proposed in the General Fund. The Town Council did decide to maintain the existing Real Estate Rate of $0.19 per $100 after the County’s reassessments. A public hearing was held on this proposal prior to our April 12th meeting. This rate will be in effect for the June 2022 billing and will continue into the 2022-2023 Budget.

The decision to maintain our existing Real Estate Tax Rate was driven by a number of things.
The 20 % increase for all of our electric service resulted in over $8,300 of addition expenses other than those affecting water and sewer. Vehicle Fuel, Propane, and Fuel Oil for Heating and Emergency Generators are all budgeted at higher amounts, although they could go even higher than proposed. All of these items as well as any higher cost repairs must be planned for because very little of what we do each day in the Town is optional. We also experienced a substantial decrease in the Business License Tax from our largest business in Town.

Mid 2021 and January 2022 saw changes in the Minimum Wage that were long overdue and another increase will happen January 1, 2023. Edinburg’s hard working staff is far from being overpaid, and in some cases we were paying just $1 or so over the previous minimum wage. Adjustments were made to wages for some of the part-time and seasonal employees in May of 2021 and for all employees in January 2022. As the Minimum Wage continues to increase the rate compresses the wages of all employees narrowing the gap between minimum wage and the wages received by longtime employees. Equalizing adjustments will continue to be required as the Minimum Wage increases over the next few years. We are proposing a 3% wage increase to take effect for fulltime employees on July 1, 2022. A 2% increase is proposed for part-time and fulltime employees to take effect on January 1, 2023.  The General Fund is proposed at $1,060,827.

Your Mayor, Dan Harshman