By Linda Cicoira — Accomack is in the black allowing for long-overdue projects to be funded from county coffers including renovations and a new HVAC system at the circuit courthouse and refurbishing of Folly Creek’s boat ramp.
Revenue in the fourth quarter of Accomack’s 2019 fiscal year was up by 5.5% compared to the same period in 2018 and all major revenue streams for 2019 exceeded the previous year by 4.5%, according to County Administrator Mike Mason. The total surplus from fiscal 2019 is estimated at $2.5 million.
“This year was the best that we’ve seen since 2011” when there were special circumstances because Accomack had just begun to bill for taxes twice a year, Mason said. “Actual revenue from both real estate taxes and personal property taxes were strong … Personal property tax collections were up by 15% compared to the previous year due to increased delinquent tax collections,” Mason said. “Sales and use tax collections were over 11.5% more than the previous year and well above the current year estimate.”
The top priority was the courthouse, in Accomac, a project that will cost $1,116,692 based on a third-party assessment. Money was put aside but the only bid received was for nearly $159,000 more than anticipated. That project was funded Wednesday by the board of supervisors.
The low bid for the boat ramp, a project Supervisor Laura Belle Gordy has been trying to get done for years, was $481,411 or double the lowest bid in 2016. Only $165,900 had been earmarked for the project, which caused the delay. The supervisors approved the addition of $351,011 to get it started. The board also voted to add $168,006 for sewer extension from north of Onley.
Assistant County Administrator Stewart Hall and Accomack schools Superintendent Chris Holland reported going on a tour of the Accomac library as the building will revert to the county once the new library is completed in Parksley. There is talk that it could be used for school administration, which would free up space in the administration building for other county uses.
“A 10-thousand-square-foot building and great location,” said Holland. “We still need to look at it. We have professional people on it but I think we need more professional advice … We’re expanding; we have sites at Arcadia. We have to look at what’s good for the school system and what’s good for you,” the superintendent said.
Chairman Donald Hart wanted to know if the building was worth remodeling. Supervisor Ron Wolff reminded the others that architectural renderings had been done before.
“We need to have an open mind,” said Supervisor Reneta Major. “If we can’t use the building, … maybe to tear down and start again.”
Supervisor Paul Muhly said, “It’s a terrific location. Ideal to keep here. Nicely landscaped.” He said the alternative was “another empty building” in Accomac. There’s “a brand-new heating system in there,” Muhly added.
In an anticipated move, the board voted to transfer property on Tangier to the Marine Resources Commission. The parcel is needed for a jetty to protect the island.
Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority Executive Director Robert Bridgham said the buildout is continuing with 350 customers and more than 100 orders awaiting service. Plans for engineering for 19 towns will be completed by the end of 2019. A preliminary plan was made for Tangier, which will be a microwave link. Assawoman will get the link when the authority goes through to Atlantic.
Residents who aren’t part of the plan but want to be can now work as a community to let the authority know they have 10 or more residences that want to be connected, Bridgham said. “We’ve had a neighborhood in Watts Bay all underground and we’ve got that community online. We continue to find creative ways to get funding.”
Getting to Sanford and Saxis is also in the near future, he said.