Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 26, 2013

Bedford City Council holds last meeting

Associated Press

BEDFORD, Va. —  Bedford City Council held its last meeting Tuesday before the city reverts to a town system of government.

But officials say there won’t be much change for the council after the city becomes part of Bedford County on July 1.

“We’ve reached that point where we’re coming to a close, and when we meet again, it will be as a town council,” City Manager Charles Kolakowski said at the meeting, adding staff would continue working for a smooth transition.

The News & Advance  reports that six council members will become members of the new Town Council. They’ll be joined by Robert Carson, who was elected to the Town Council in May. One council member is stepping down.

Tuesday’s final meeting lasted about 40 minutes, and much of the work involved tying up loose ends.

The council approved transferring Bedford Elementary School and its property to the county school board and the city’s half interest in the Bedford Welcome Center to the county. It also voted to convey the city’s water and wastewater systems to the Bedford Regional Water Authority.

According to the city-county reversion agreement, the county will pay the town $11.5 million during the next 15 years for the facilities.

The town will lose some money from business owners. The council passed an ordinance Tuesday setting a flat fee of $30 for business owners to replace a business operating tax. The tax generated more than $450,000 for the city over the past fiscal year, but the flat fee is expected to bring in less than $20,000.

Assistant City Manager Bart Warner said recently the flat fee will leave more money in the hands of business owners to reinvest in their businesses

After gaveling the meeting to a close, Bedford City Mayor Robert Wandrei said it was not much different than any other council meeting he attended. He said he doesn’t expect many changes in the future.

“I’m sure on the first of July, I’ll find the sun rises just as it did this morning,” he said.

He said council always has worked together and been respectful of each other’s opinions, and he did not expect the town reversion to affect that spirit.

“I look forward to the town council continuing on in the same fashion,” he said.