VINTON–Vinton Town Council is considering allowing more pets per household than the total of two currently allowed under the Town’s Code.
The current ordinance states that it is “unlawful for any person to own, keep, harbor, care for, have custody of, or knowingly permit at any time more than two dogs or cats” in any dwelling in the town, other than businesses which deal with pets. Working dogs are also excluded.
Police Lieutenant Mark Vaught surveyed the surrounding localities to determine how many pets each allows. Roanoke City permits four dogs and six cats, if the cats are spayed or neutered. Roanoke County allows three dogs and cats. Botetourt County allows four dogs and has no limits on cats. The City of Salem allows three dogs and two cats.
All of these localities charge $10 per year per pet for licensing, with a reduced rate for spayed or neutered animals.
David Flagler, Executive Director of the Roanoke Center for Animal Control and Protection (RCACP), told council during a briefing on July 15, that he has run and visited animal control programs “all over the United States,” and had encountered only one other locality with a policy as restrictive as Vinton’s.
Vinton Police Chief Ben Cook was questioned about whether a problem exists in the town at the present time regarding pets. He said that few animals are reported for “running at large” in Vinton. Most calls that his department receives have to do with barking dogs.
After a thorough discussion, members of Town Council agreed to hold a public meeting to consider changing the Town Code, raising the number to four pets allowed per household within the town, with the caveat that any more than two animals would required spaying or neutering of the pets.
Town Manager Chris Lawrence will investigate the legalities of requiring pets to be spayed or neutered and arrange a date for a public meeting on the topic.
Chief Cook briefed council on the purchase of new in-car recording systems for police vehicles. The department has “experienced problems with one particular brand of video system installed several years ago” in some of their older vehicles.
Cook wants to use federal drug forfeiture money in the amount of $47,293 to purchase six video systems through Kustom Signals, which will include the equipment, installation, and training needed, with no cost to the town.
Cook says that these days video is “ priceless” for a police department for both documentation of evidence to be used in court and also to protect the safety of officers.
He told council that the antiquated system now used in several of the vehicles takes hours to download the data from video footage and requires a “huge amount” of storage space on the county’s server.
One feature of the new cameras would be the “wireless functionality” which allows video footage to be automatically downloaded to the server when the police vehicles come “into contact with the wireless routing system” when they pull into the police department parking lot at the Municipal Building.
Lawrence commented that frequently police vehicles are “outliving the technology that is in them.” The request for Town Council’s approval will appear on the August 19 agenda.
The town manager updated members of council on cost estimates for renovations to the Fire House. Costs of improvements will be split fifty/fifty between Vinton and Roanoke County. Estimates presented by the consulting design team were twice as much as expected, so discussions will continue to see if adjustments need to be made in the “scope of the project.”
Lawrence informed council that interviews have been completed for the specialist position in Human Resources and that a new employee should be in place to handle the day-to-day paperwork by mid-August. After Human Resources Director Stephanie Dearing retired, the town elected to transfer the policy responsibilities of her position to Assistant Town Manager Ryan Spitzer and to hire a specialist to manage clerical and administrative duties, at a cost-savings to the town.
Council recognized members of the Finance Department and its director Barry Thompson for receiving their 19th consecutive award for their Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. The Certificate of Achievement for “excellence in financial reporting” is awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada and is the “highest form of recognition in the area of government accounting and financial reporting.”
Bonnie Bailey from the Finance Department was recognized individually for her service to the town as she retires after thirteen years as service assistant and accounting technician.
Town Council also recognized Sergeant Tim Lawless, Master Police Officer Chris Froeschl, and Officer Zach Hurt, as Officers of the Month for June. The policemen, along with K9 Officer Jax, tracked and apprehended a suspect involved in a robbery at Kroger and were able to recover much of the stolen property.
Wayne Guffey, Assistant Chief of the Vinton Volunteer First Aid Crew, presented the 2014 Fiscal Year report. The thirty-nine members of the crew responded to 1,107 calls during the year and had a stellar “mark up” rate of 97% with 5,506 volunteer hours. Total man hours were 20,507, including training and standbys.
The crew purchased and placed in service a new Rehab Unit with funds raised by the crew. They received a fifty/fifty grant from the state which enabled the First Aid Crew to purchase another Stryker power stretcher, which is operated by hydraulics.
Councilman Doug Adams reminded council that the First Aid Crew will be celebrating their 75th anniversary in October.
Members of council authorized the Town Manager to execute two Memorandums of Understanding with Roanoke County for Stormwater Management Plan Review Services and Post-Construction Inspection Services.
Spitzer asked council to approve publishing Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) on July 20 for the downtown streetlights and improvements to the Washington Avenue/Pollard Street intersection, which are part of the Downtown Revitalization Project. Bids will be due on August 19. He hopes that installation of the streetlights will take place in the time frame between the last Mingle at the Market on September 13 and the Fall Festival scheduled for October 11.
He reported that a camera has been installed at the intersection of Washington and Pollard to replace the underground sensor loops and to keep traffic moving in a timely manner.
Lawrence briefed council on the Roanoke County Litter program at the request of Charlotte Moore, the Cave Spring representative to the Board of Supervisors. He explained the advantage the Town of Vinton has over the rest of the county with the town’s streetsweeper, which vacuums the entire town on a weekly basis, keeping much debris out of the stormwater system.
The Town Council meeting on August 5 has been cancelled in lieu of observance of the police department’s annual National Night Out, to be held at the Farmer’s Market from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. that evening.