During a week when national politics and elections took center stage, Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton provided a positive outlook for the town amid an unparalleled year.
In his Oct. 29 state of the town address, Littleton gave an overview of the fiscal status of the town and upcoming projects, and he applauded the community for its “unbelievable resiliency” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will prevail as we always have in Middleburg,” he said.
Littleton said the focus of the town’s COVID-19 response in March was to create immediate support programs for residents and businesses.
He introduced a $200 utility credit for the town’s utility customers, placed a stop on service disconnections and offered housing assistance through the nonprofit Windy Hill Foundation.
Additionally, the town handed out $230,000 in meal vouchers for residents to spend at Middleburg’s restaurants.
“This was a win-win because it helped the restaurants and residents. What was most impressive was how many people donated their vouchers to charitable organizations. It shows the strength of the community,” Littleton said.
Retail businesses also benefited from a joint marketing opportunity through which the town provided a matching reimbursement to help boost sales.
In the months ahead, the town will look for opportunities to invest in the community and support the economy, he said.
Despite the impacts of COVID-19, Littleton said the town is in a strong financial position.
The tax rate has remained unchanged, and there was a modest budget surplus in 2020.
“Hospitality took a hit, which is why it is important to have extra money in the bank to support businesses and residents,” he said.
The town refinanced $4 million in old debt across three different prior debt series in 2010, 2013 and 2014, saving $375,000 in interest, according to the mayor. Total debt outstanding is about $5.13 million.
“We will be able to weather the storm without increases on residents and businesses or diminished services,” he said.
The town’s largest upcoming project is the new town hall, which is slated to begin construction in late 2021 at the site of the current town hall.
Littleton listed numerous reasons for constructing a new building, including an increase in town staff from three in 1964 when the current building was built to seven today, plus six police officers.
Because the town has outgrown its current space, the vision for the new building is to have all town staff and police in one location, as well as to provide free meeting space to the community.
The town is currently interviewing architectural and engineering firms and hopes to have the designs completed in the first half of 2021. The town has also requested funding from the county to assist with the project.
“This is your town hall, and we are excited to get started,” he said.
While the popular annual Christmas in Middleburg parade will not be held this year, the town plans to host multiple smaller events throughout December to celebrate the holidays.
“We are looking forward to 2021 and will plan for events month-by-month,” Littleton said.