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Windsor discusses loan for Town Center project

WINDSOR

The Town of Windsor plans to borrow up to $500,000 from Farmer’s Bank to fully fund the approximately $1.3 million renovation to the Windsor Town Center. The matter was discussed during a Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening.

According to Town Manager Michael Stallings, Farmer’s Bank has proposed a six-year term with interest rate of 2.95 percent, resulting in annual repayments of $92,152.91. The loan will be treated much like a construction loan, where the town will only withdraw funds as needed to cover project costs.

When the renovations are completed, the total loan amount will only be for the funds used during construction. If all $500,000 is used, the town’s annual repayments will total $552,917.46 at the end of the six-year period. The remaining $800,000 needed to complete the project will come from local funds that have already been transferred into the town center fund.

The loan was initially presented to council as one that would require the town to withdraw the entire $500,000 amount at the beginning of the loan term. When several council members questioned whether the entire amount would be needed to complete the project, since the town also intends to solicit donations for the town center, Stallings said he would redo the paperwork so that the loan would be a draw-as-you-need-it type. As a result, the council took no action on the matter that evening, but expects to do so during its April 24 work session.

In other business, the council also discussed the Virginia Department of Transportation’s safety study of the Route 460 corridor from Windsor to Suffolk. Mayor Carita Richardson recommended writing a letter to VDOT requesting that the study be expanded to include the stretch of Route 460 located within the town’s incorporated borders.

Richardson said the suggestion to do so came from a recent conversation she had with Trip Pollard, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, who had worked with the town in 2016 to provide VDOT and the Army Corps of Engineers with an alternative to their previous plan to construct a new, divided highway Route 460 that would have bypassed the town. In addition to recommending the town’s inclusion in VDOT’s current safety study, Pollard also recommended that any improvements to the stretch of highway through town be broken up into smaller, less costly projects, so that they have a better chance of scoring well in Smart Scale, VDOT’s cost-to-benefit evaluation system.

Stallings said on Wednesday that the letter was in development and that, in addition to requesting inclusion in the study, it will highlight ongoing safety concerns regarding the town’s six-way intersection with Route 460.

When Pollard had previously worked with the town, he had worked with traffic engineer Walter Kulash to propose widening most of the stretch of Route 460 through Windsor to include a center turn lane, as well as reconfiguring the six-way intersection. However, Stallings confirmed that the letter the town plans to send to VDOT will not lobby for this or any other specific solution. It will simply ask them to consider studying potential improvements.

The completed letter will be brought before council for final approval before it is sent to VDOT.

The final matter the council discussed that evening was a suggestion by Councilman Walter Bernacki to change the due date for town business license applications from March 31 to April 15. He said that doing so would make the town more business friendly, as the new date would coincide with the deadline for filing federal and state taxes.

“It gives them a chance to get their tax returns back from their CPAs,” Bernacki said.

Stallings said that the March 31 deadline used to be mandated by state code but at some point this was changed to allow localities to adopt a later date, provided that date is no later than May 31.

“Some of the delinquents may roll into the next fiscal year but that’s going to be minor, I don’t see any tremendous drawback to [changing the date],” Stallings said.

To implement the change, the town first must hold a public hearing and advertise the hearing in the newspaper. The hearing will likely be scheduled for the council’s May meeting.