Dumfries hoping for an overhaul

DUMFRIES — The Dumfries Town Council is moving ahead to borrow about $2 million to improve curbs, gutters and sidewalks in some of its older neighborhoods.

“We have talked about this for a long time,” said Dumfries Town Councilwoman Stephanie Bradley, who proposed the effort. “This is a great need for us.”

With a yearly payment on the bond estimated at $40,000, property taxes to town residents would not have to be increased to pay for it, town officials said.

The staff is recommending three subdivisions be targets for infrastructure improvement. They are Possum Point subdivision, which includes Rose Hill, the Tripoli Height subdivision, and the Old Towne subdivision, which is the historic section of Dumfries.

Within the Possum Point subdivision, Howard and Leonard streets along with Rose Hill Circle would be improved.

Within the Tripoli Heights subdivision, curbs, gutters and sidewalks would be added along Tripoli Court and Tripoli Boulevard, along with Maple and Wilson streets.

In the Old Towne subdivision, the improvements would be made along Fairfax, Cameron, Duke and Washington streets.

“Everything is in the planning stages. We will look at the entire town and evaluate it,” Bentley said.

The town has sent its application to the Virginia Resources Authority for a $2 million bond with about a 5 percent interest rate to be paid over 25 years, said Brack Bentley, consultant to the Town Council.

The Virginia Resources Authority is a state agency that borrows money on behalf of small towns and municipalities, Bentley said.

“This way we get the full faith and creditability of the commonwealth backing us up [in borrowing the money,]” Bentley said.

With the interest rate at a 40-year low, “right now, the timing is about as good as we can realistically expect,” Bentley said.

Additionally, the town is well within its capability to borrow $2 million, Bentley said. A town is allowed to borrow money, or buy bonds, in the amount equivalent to 10 percent of its assessed value of property.

Dumfries has about $204 million in assessed property value; therefore it can incur debt up to $20 million. Aside from the new $2 million bond, the town has an old bond on which it owes about $350,000.

Part of the new bond could be used to pay off the old debt, Bentley said. Brown said he would prefer that the town pursue other avenues of finding funding, such as grants, before it would decide to borrow more money.

Improving the infrastructure in the town is a longtime recognized need. In recent months, Public Works Director Marvin Wilkins was asked by the council to provide it with information on how much it would cost to improve the infrastructure of the entire town.

Wilkins told the council that it would cost about $4.5 million. Bradley said she then took that information, prioritized the greatest needs and presented a proposal to council to improve certain neighborhoods at a cost of about $2 million.

Bentley said he hopes to have the bids for the engineering of the project back to the town by this fall and the actual work under way by next spring.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Bentley said. “It’s a bit optimistic but I believe the council will push hard because they want to get this done.”

Staff writer Aileen Streng can be reached at (703) 878-8010.

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