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City Council Votes to Continue Funding Greensville-Emporia Transportation System

After a great many public comments at the last City Council meeting, the Council reconsidered the decision to pull out of the GET System at their meeting on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

The bus service was necessitated by the move of nearly all shared services to the Greensville County Government Center. The SVCC Education center was put on 301 North even though the Tobacco Commission thought the best place for it was the vacant schools on Main Street (thay have since been demolished). All county business that is not Social Services or court related is transacted at the Greensville County Government Center. The project to move the Department of Social Services has already begun, and the current building in the City will be vacant when the move occurs.

Without the transportation system, anyone in need of the Department of Social Services will have difficulty getting to the office. Given that the people in need of Social Services are likely to hot have access to transportation, the GET System is a major step in that relocation of shared services to the County Government Center.

After the motion was made and seconded, only Council Members Jim Saunders and F. Woodrow Harris had comments.

Council Member Saunders started with the numbers. The budget for the system is $160,000. Of that, $79K is supplied by the Federal Government, $19K comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia and $33K is paid by the Department of Social Services. The City of Emporia and Greensville County both contribute to the system as well, and the portion that the City was expected increased dramatically last year. That dramatic increase was the reason for the City's desire to cease funding the system.

Only $5,000 is generated by rider’s fares.

Saunders hoped that the motion could be amended to allow the City to pull out of the system within 60 days, instead of 12 months, should any of the major funding sources be reduced or stop. The motion was never amended.

Council Member F. Woodrow Harris started his comments by stating the he felt that the “small handful of people that utilize” the transportation was not likely to increase. In a reference to the comments made by citizens at the last meeting, he said that understood that one of the speakers had a bit more cash in her wallet at the end of the month by not needing to take a cab to the grocery store. He did not think that fact was enough to justify the lightening of the “wallets of the tax-payers of the City.” Harris also lamented that Emporia was the “land where bad ideas never die,” and did not want to “hasten our departure from common sense to nonsense” by funding this system.

Ultimately, both Saunders and Harris voted against continued funding while Council Members Mercer, Temple, Threat and Hines voted in favor. Council Member White was absent.

City Council will have their retreat on March 30th at the airport.

There were some vacancies on boards and commissions. Cora Hines was reappointed to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Marva Jo Dunn resigned from both the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Redevelopment and Housing Authority on January 16, 2019 and no one was nominated to fill the remainder of her unfinished terms.

Ms. Dunn is also the City’s appointee to the Greensville County School Board, an appointment that was illegal given her membership on the Board of Zoning Appeals membership, organization, etc1. She was re-appointed to the School Board at a special meeting of the City Council on December 27, 2018. Her appointment to the RDHA was also illegal for the same reason. The Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in regard to Boards of Zoning Appeals, states that “Members of the board shall hold no other public office in the locality except that one may be a member of the local planning commission” (Code of Virginia, Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns, Chapter 22. Planning, Subdivision of Land and Zoning,  § 15.2-2308. Boards of zoning appeals to be created). Ms. Dunn’s resignation from the BZA and RDHA does nothing to negate the fact that her appointment to the School Board is illegal.

During public comments Deacon Cornell Hines invited the members of City Council to the dedication of Habitat for Humanity’s tenth home in Emporia-Greensville. There are currently five in Greensville County and the fifth in the City of Emporia will be dedicated soon.  Deacon Hines

The Council adjourned to closed session to discuss a matter related to the acquisition of real estate.

Upon the return to regular session, Assistant City Manager Dr. Ed Daley explained that the City had combined five lots to make four. Of those, two have been given to habitat for Humanity. A previous arrangement specified that upon the completion of the houses on the first two lots, the additional lots would be transferred to habitat for Humanity.

(Editor's Note: This article was updated on Thursday, February 7, 2019 to include a citation for the quote from the Code of Virginia as found on the Virginia Legislative Information System, to fix some style errors and to include the name of the Assistant City Manager that had been omited.)

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