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T he Colonial Beach • Westmoreland Volume 37, Number 48 Colonial Beach receives clean audit Auditor Billy Robinson, of Brown Edwards & Company, LLP, issued the Town of Colonial Beach a clean opinion for fiscal year 2013, at the Nov. 21 town council work session. Mayor Mike Ham congratulated both the town and school board’s financial employees for their work. “This is the third year we have had a clean opinion, and it seems to be getting better every year.” Robinson told the council, however, that there were some areas on which the town and school could improve. “There’s still some recommendations and internal controls that we recommend, however. We recognize with the size of the town and the size of the school board, that ultimately, you can only do so much,” Robinson said. This is the second year that Brown, Edwards & Company has performed the audit. Robinson is confident his firm’s suggestions will be taken seriously, based on the improvements made by the town since the last audit. “The town made great efforts. They really did take our comments last year seriously. There were several comments made on last year’s audit, and the town has made great progress on those.” Robinson added, “The town is very proactive in those things, and definitely should be commended for taking those items seriously.” Robinson told the council that the town’s budget showed a negative balance of $245,000 in the General Fund “…Which is an area of concern.” Robinson said that if this continues, the budget would continue to deplete the fund balance. “The town really needs to examine, more closely, how far off the tax projections were to the actual taxes collected. For property taxes, it was $122,000 less that budgeted (or projected), for other local taxes it was $82,000 less than budgeted.” Intergovernmental showed $470,914 over-budgeted, but Robinson said, “That could just be some grants that you thought you were going to get, that you did not, or the timing of those, maybe you got them and just weren’t able to spend them.” Robinson said that is why he is not too concerned with those numbers. Robinson pointed out that under Expenditures, the town budgeted for $6,644,465, but it actually only spent $5,890,309 - leaving a positive balance of $754,156. Although this may appear to the average person as being good - like finding an extra $100 bill in your jacket pocket, Robinson said, “I think you should look at how you’re budgeting your money, particularly your tax items. While they are not completely predictable, there should be some trends that could be identified to better budget those items.” Robinson advised that many localities do what they can to set a balanced budget, but conscientiously use money from the fund balance to complete a project. Robinson warned, “If you’re going to do that, and I’m not saying you are, but don’t do it by making revenues appear to be larger than the actually are.” Robinson suggests when conscientiously using money that has not already been projected through proven projections, the town should keep records using a line item entitled “use of fund balance”. Robinson said that would give the town a more accurate picture of spending. Because the town incurred a debt to Rural Development for sewer upgrades, the town had to separate the water fund from the sewer fund, to show Rural Development the viability of these funds. The financial statements show that the sewer revenue taken in was $253,000. See audit, page 3 POSTAL CUSTOMER helping you relate to your community Wednesday, November 27, 2013 50 Cents Town loses $20,800 in revenue in Hamilton St. sale Lady Drifters basketball Linda Farneth Leonard Banks Billie Gould practices a fastbreak lay-up. It’s time for Lady Drifters basketball action. Read about the outlook for the season on page 7. Every council has one. It seems that every council has at least one transaction, ordinance or resolution that blows up in its face. While the current Colonial Beach Town Council has no lack of these, the Hamilton Street vacation has to be the most embarrassing land transaction for the council, so far this year. In an attempt to dispose of small, unused parcels that cannot be built upon, the town has been offering these parcels to the adjoining landowners. The Hamilton Street right-of-way (ROW), located in the southern part of Colonial Beach, consisted of 6,025 square feet of land that was not being used by the town. The property was divided into two parcels, both to be sold at a value of $8 per square foot. The larger parcel, consisting of 5,198 square feet, was offered to adjoining landowner Cameron Craig Berry for $41,600. The smaller parcel, at 827 square feet and appraised at $6,600, was offered to adjoining landowner Clayton L. Shepard. In order to save on advertising costs, the vacation and sale of these two parcels were covered under one ordinance. The property was vacated by a council vote on June 13 of this year. However, when it came time to vote on the sale of these parcels, there was some opposition from Councilwomen Linda Brubaker and Wanda Goforth. Both felt that the smaller parcel should be sold at a higher price since it was waterfront property. The councilwomen agreed with each other that it had been appraised too low and stated they would not vote to sell it at the previously agreed-upon price. Furthermore, sale of waterfront property requires a majority vote of five council members, and only six of the seven members were present at the June 13 meeting. The other four members in attendance were willing to vote for the sale of both parcels, but at the time, Councilman Tim Curtin was out of town. After some hard debate between the council members, Councilman Gary Seeber moved to amend the ordinance to exclude the sale of the smaller waterfront parcel and to continue with a vote to sell the larger parcel. After amending the original ordinance, Seeber motioned to sell the larger parcel, and the motion passed. Since the larger parcel was See land sale, page 3 New Coldwell Banker office another sign of improving Beach economy Richard Leggitt Coldwell Banker Elite, one of the nation’s most successful real estate franchises, has opened an office in Colonial Beach. The well-known firm announced this week that Coldwell Banker Elite has acquired Team 4U Real Estate in Colonial Beach. “This acquisition means the Coldwell Banker Elite family has opened a new office in Colonial Beach to better serve our clients and those in the Northern Neck market,” said Kevin Breen, President and Owner of Coldwell Banker Elite. Breen said he is “delighted to welcome the Colonial Beach agents to the Coldwell Banker Elite family. Their local real estate knowledge combined with Coldwell Banker Elite’s global marketing platform, tools, and technologies will give their clients an unbeatable real estate experience.” Among the agents switching from Team 4U to Coldwell Banker Elite is Debb Riston, the owner-broker of Team 4U who has managed the Colonial Beach office for years. Riston said she is excited about the merger of the two firms. “It’s a sign the economy is improving at the Beach,” Riston said. The new Coldwell Banker Elite Colonial Beach office will be managed by Latana Locke who has lived in Colonial Beach for over 30 years and has 15 years of real estate management experience. The new Coldwell Banker Elite office is located in the old Team 4U building at 233 N. Irving Avenue, just a few blocks from the Potomac River and across the street from the Tattle Tale Coffee Shop and Cafe. Coldwell Banker Elite has been the number one Coldwell Banker affiliate in Virginia for the past 11 years. The firm already has offices in King George and in Fredericksburg, as well as other locations across the state. Martin introduces new consultant for schools’ insurance policies School board skeptical about change Colonial Beach Schools Financial Director J.D. Martin introduced David Rowe to the school board to hear new options on health insurance for the schools’ employees. However, school board Chairman Tim Trivett expressed concerns over changing consultants. During the Nov. 13 regular school board meeting, Employee Benefits Consultant David Rowe, from Bankers Insurance, met with some opposition when he presented his ideas for saving money on the school system’s health insurance to the Colonial Beach School Board. Rowe’s motivation, however, was not only to save the school some money, but also to persuade the school to sign a contract for his services. Rowe informed the board that one of the things he does for his clients is to drive down the cost of the employee benefits program. Rowe advised that his services fall into three categories - financial analysis, compliance and implementation and general services. Rowe warned that the school district is facing a lot of compliance issues, particularly the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the implementation of the Virginia Retirement System’s local disabilities program. He suggested that both the school and the town could save money by combining the two groups under one insurance policy. Rowe discussed a program offered by the State called The Local Choice program. The website states, “More than 48,000 employees, retirees and family members representing 285 local Virginia jurisdictions participate in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s The Local Choice (TLC) health benefits program.” The website also explains that the program was created by the General Assembly in 1989, and has been providing health coverage to local jurisdictions since 1990. By teaming up with so many employees, the State has created purchasing power that reduces costs and provides better protection by competing effectively in today’s healthcare marketplace. A brief overview and list of healthcare plans offered through TLC can be found on the website. But School Board Chairman Tim Trivett was quick to point out that the option had been discussed before. Trivett could not recall the exact timing or conversation, but he was sure that it had been proposed earlier and that the town employees’ jobs would raise the schools’ insurance. Trivett said, “I think that has been explored in the past. I think the reason we didn’t do that is because of the law enforcement side of the town - we were told we would have a Lewis and Clark now reside at Washington’s Birthplace Carla Gutridge Popes Creek Plantation is home to several heritage breed farm animals at the birthplace of our nation’s first President of the United States. Referred to as “Wakefield” by most of the longtime residents of Westmoreland County, George Washington Birthplace National Monument welcomed two new members to the plantation’s farm animal family on Friday, Nov. 22. Ranger Dick Lahey made the 542mile trip each way to Plainfield, N.H., to pick up Lewis and Clark, two Milking Shorthorn oxen who were in need of a new home. Around 5 p.m., the “two tons of fun,” affectionately named by Lahey, were getting settled in their new See Oxen, page 3 Lewis, in background, and Clark, in front with the white star on his head now call GW’s Birthplace “home.” They are Milking Shorthorn oxen and “two tons of fun.” bigger liability if we shared insurance.” Rowe explained how that was probably for liability insurance. But with health insurance, if the two were combined, and a group of over 100 was formed, money could be saved. Trivett asked if there were risk assessments. Rowe responded that the carrier would be looking at the claims’ experience. Rowe said, “My understanding is that the town is already in this program - the school district is not. I just think it’s an option that would need to be explored and see if it benefits those involved.” Rowe made the school board aware of the fact that the school is already paying a consultant. That compensation is imbedded in your medical rates. “The money is already appropriated to fund someone like me,” he said. Rowe said the school system is paying See insurance, page 3 Colonial Beach girl killed in crash in Caroline County A Colonial Beach girl was killed Saturday in a one car crash when the car she was driving left the road and hit a tree in Caroline County.  Virginia State Police identified the victim as Amber L. Sanders. Officers said Sanders, 19, was driving a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier north on US 17 when her car ran off the highway and struck a tree. Officers are still trying to determine the reason Sanders’ car left the highway. Sanders was alone in to vehicle, which ran off the right side of US 17 near its intersection with Now you can follow local breaking news daily on our website at US 301. Sanders was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the State Police. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The crash occurred about 1:30 p.m. Saturday. State Police said the accident closed the northbound lane of traffic on US 17 for almost two hours. The Caroline County Sheriff ’s Office is assisting with the accident investigation. —Richard Leggitt

11-27-2013 Colonial Beach/Westmoreland Virginia Journal

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