After approving an ordinance to offer an incentive package to GE Aviation to expand its facility, the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen wrapped up by approving its annual fiscal year budget and approving a new sign ordinance.
West Jefferson Town Manager Brantley Price presented the final budget to the alderman before they approved it offering up the highlights for the upcoming fiscal year.
Price said there would be no tax increase for West Jefferson residents and the town’s operational expenses for fiscal year 2013/14 would total $1,588,350.
Other highlights of the budget were:
• The employees of West Jefferson were receiving a 1 percent cost of living raise;
• The W.J. Police Department would purchase a new squad car for $38,000;
• The town’s maintenance department would purchase a new dump truck for $38,000;
• Approximately $110,000 would be spent paving town roads, with the state, or Powell Bill funds, covering $45,000 of that cost;
• $71,000 would be spend maintaining the town park, of which $5,000 would be spent on a new lawn mower;
• $151,000 for West Jefferson Fire Department;
• $619,650 for the Water Department; and
• $585,000 for the Sewer Department.
After the aldermen passed the budget, they had brief discussion on the proposed sign ordinance prior to it approval.
There were questions about the ordinance raised in a letter sent to the town by the owner of Jefferson Station.
Aldermen Dr. Brett Summey asked town planner Matthew Levi if the letter sent by the Jefferson Station owner was factual and suggested that before approving the ordinance, the questions should be answered.
Levi and Town Attorney David Paletta “disagreed primarily” with the questions raised in the letter.
Specifically, the letter said that a 10 foot by 12 foot sign would not offer adequate signage for businesses in a concentrated shopping center.
Paletta said that few or no towns allow concentrated shopping centers to have individuals signs, but that if conditions changed the aldermen could tweak the ordinance.
“It’s impossible to make everyone happy. The key is being fair in its implementation,” said Paletta.
Alderman Tom Hartman said the town should approve the changes and “tweak it if we need to later.”
Aldermen Calvin Green said it was time to settle the issue. “We’ve hacked it out and hacked it out…if somebody comes in and needs something, we’ll bend over backwards to help them.
Mayor Dale Baldwin asked to have the permit fee in the sign ordinance removed. That was agreed too.
Aldermen Stephen Shoemaker made the motion to approve the ordinance. It was approved unanimously.
The aldermen then heard the monthly reports from the police department and public works.
It was Public Works Director David Hamilton’s last meeting. He is retiring.
All the aldermen, including Lester Mullis, thanked him for his 23 years of service to the town.