The Northampton County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the County Breakfast at Aqua Restaurant in Cape Charles on Wednesday, May 5th.
The morning started off with a report on the state of the Commonwealth with Senator Ralph Northam. Northam reported that 4.2 million dollars has been cut from the budget in areas of Medicaid, k-12 education and law enforcement.
He also stated how the shore needs to concentrate on turning its economy around by getting people back to work. He mentioned the wallops initiative how there are companies coming to the shore that will be hiring. He noted that the Shore needs to make sure it has the ability to train the workforce, concentrating on vocational training.
Delegate Lynwood Lewis addressed the group, giving an overview of what happened during the general assembly session in Richmond. He said Virginia isnt immune to the Economic Challenge. He compared the challenge to a Category 5 storm. Lewis also elaborated on budget cuts. And stated how Virginia has been rated by several agencies the best place in the country to do business since it has a relative low tax and positive business environment.
Sam Long was the first member of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors to speak. He reminded the group that its a tough budget year and the board is having to make very difficult choices. Long voiced how he is disappointed in the lack of funding on Regional Jail, but excited with direction of the Board of Supervisors. He mentioned that they are taking steps toward eco develop-and opportunities are being presented but being kept private at this time.
Spencer Murray, intending to give a satellite view of Northampton County, noted the Northampton County was much like the rest of the world, country and state. He encouraged the county to connect with one another and reminded the group that we are really all in this mess together and we will either sink or we'll swim together. He said if community stops caring about each other, we wont make it.
Supervisor Richard Tankard was up next and focused in on Northampton Countys School System. He believes that the school system should make the same types of changes that have been done at the county level, noting that county employees have been furloughed, positions cut, and savings in many areas. He encouraged the school system to strive for the same so taxes dont have to be raised.
He also reported that through an audit, the school system discovered $377,000 last year that they didnt know they had and over 200,000 the year before. He asked school system to adjust their budget request based on this fact. By changing the base, it would be a big step to having a balanced budget.
Re-elected Mayor Dora Sullivan reported that Cape Charles has 16 millions in government funded projects going on at the same time. She noted how important tourism is to the town and that Cape Charles is Open For Business.
Newly elected Councilman Larry Lemond represented Cheriton reporting that the town has had 4 new businesses open recently, they are working on a boundary adjustment and the waste water system with other towns and the county.
Eastville Town Mayor Jim Sturgis reported that because of budget cutbacks at the state level, that town has re-instated its own police department, water testing is now paid for by the town and VDOT is requiring Eastville to be responsible for street repairs.
Re-elected Exmore Town May Billy Moore stated Exmore is a great town, giving credit to town employees, town manager and police department. He considers Exmore the commercial hub of the county. He noted that the two new hotels seem to be busy, the town is working towards broadband coming, and that the town is working with PSA and towards water and sewage.