COVID-19, Budget Are on Town’s Agenda

COVID-19 was the first topic at the March 17 Moorefield Town Council meeting.

“Right now, we’re operating as normal,” Moorefield Police Department Chief Stephen Riggleman said, adding that officers are using nitirile gloves, washing hands, and disinfecting gear and vehicle interiors.

Riggleman said that there likely would be no municipal court before Apr. 10, and that citizens are asked to minimize in-office payments.

“At this point…I don’t want to shut it down,” Riggleman said, referring to stopping patrols and other police activity.

He noted that there are no masks, only a limited number of gloves, and that, “Lysol and Clorox (are) kinda gone.”

Council member Scott Fawley supported limiting to access to the police department, and to the Town office: “I think it’s a great idea.”

Both the police department and the Town are encouraging the use of automatic bill pay or paying by credit card over the phone.

City Clerk Rick Freeman noted there’s a fee to use a credit card that’s automatically applied during the transaction. He will contact the company to see if it’s possible for the Town to pay that, instead of citizens.

Citizens also may put envelops with cash, checks and money orders in the drop box. If citizens include more cash than their bill requires, instead of receiving change back, the excess will go towards their next bill.

“We do want to limit contact,” said council member Carol Zuber, “but we don’t want to cause panic.”

The council also discussed waiving late fees and not terminating service for lack of payment. 

The council agreed to revisit the topic again in a month.

Public Works director Lucas Gagnon acknowledged a bill working through Congress to assist employees forced to stay home either because of illness or to care for a loved one.

Gagnon also addressed a voiced concern about water, and said that if water became a problem, it wouldn’t be because of lack of employees, but because of a chemicals shortage.

Gagnon said he’d spoken with the company supplying the Town’s water chemicals, and no issues are anticipated at this time.

Mayor Gary Stalnaker appointed a committee, consisting of council members Scott Fawley, Carol Zuber, and Roger Pratt, fire chief Doug Mongold and police chief Stephen Riggleman, in case of a state of emergency, to help coordinate efforts.

The Council also discussed how travel restrictions would mean less revenue from tourism and the hotel/motel tax, which are key in funding the Town’s budget.

Events Approved

The Council approved three special events for the Town Park, contingent on restrictions for COVID-19. 

They approved American Woodmark Corporation’s Easter Egg Hunt for Mar. 28; the Bub Riggleman Tournament for Apr. 17-18; and a tennis tournament for June 6-7.

Council approved the U.S. Department of Agriculture loan draw #7 for the Water Plant project, which will pay $748,105.13 for Triton Construction, and $21,780 for supervising contractor Gwin, Dobson and Foreman.

The total draw amount this month is $769,885.13.

Budget Discussion

The Council discussed the amounts requested by local organizations.

Oak Hill Cemetery didn’t request a specific amount, but requested help with mowing and maintenance. The Council approved $1,000.

They approved $2,500 for EACHS, $1,500 for the Potomac Valley Transit Authority, and $5,000 for the Wellness Center.

The Lions Club was approved for $2,000, and the Chamber of Commerce for $5,000. The Daycare Center was approved for $2500.

They approved $3,000 for the Health Department, which does get funding from the state, but not enough to cover all costs. They approved $7,500 tentatively for the Committee on Aging.

Prior to ending the meeting, and as part of the budget discussions, the Council discussed the Moorefield Town Park’s future.

“The Park can’t sustain itself without help from the general fund,” Gagnon said, noting that the pool loses an average of $35,000 each year.

“Do you want to maintain what we have now,” Gagnon asked, “or contribute $100,000 more and help Juwana with her vision?”

Juwana Bridger is the Park manager.

The extra $100,000, plus $50,000 the Park already receives, could cover the pool shortfall, new basketball courts planned for an empty lot on Spring Avenue, and a new sign at Park entrance.

These are the first steps in Bridger’s plan to make the Park more welcoming to more citizens.

“Put $150,000 in there and move forward,” Fawley said. “Our world will get smaller. We need to improve what we have.”

“I’m with Scott (Fawley),” Zuber said. “I’d like to put the $150,000 to the Park.”

Gagnon asked if the Council wants to keep the pool. Despite it costing more to operate than it brings in, a lot of people use it, he said.

The Council agreed to move forward with the pool, and encouraged Bridger to get the pool ready on schedule, starting in April.

The Council will meet on Tuesday, Mach. 24 at 7 p.m. to continue budget discussions.

The next scheduled Town Council meeting is Tuesday, Apil. 7 at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.