Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser gave his fourth annual State of the Town address Monday night to a large crowd in Town Hall.
While 2017 was a tumultuous year for the town government, featuring the retirement of the long-time town manager, the firing and un-firing of the police chief and a series of misconduct allegations against other managers, Fraser delivered a largely upbeat assessment of the town’s status and Town Council’s performance.
Fraser initially went over the town’s vision, mission and core values—integrity, trust, transparency, innovation, accountability and stewardship. For the next half hour, the mayor painted the picture of a flourishing community, touching on the condition of town finances, youth engagement, public safety, plans to generate revenue from town-owned properties and his outlook on the future of the town.
“Our accomplishments in 2017 will not be overshadowed by the ongoing investigations, nor the misrepresentation of facts surrounding these investigations,” he said. “We are economically strong, operationally resilient and strategically determined—that is the state of the Town of Purcellville.”
Fraser also highlighted the town’s current financial position. He talked about the town’s triple-A credit rating and how last year’s debt restructuring cut a projected double-digit water and sewer rate increase in half and how it has provided the town with $12.5 million in debt payment savings throughout the next 10 years.
“In 2021, our balloon payment was going to be $4.8 million,” he said. “Because of our restructuring, that payment is $1.8 million.”
He also mentioned the new partnership with Play to Win and Shaun Alexander Enterprises to manage the entire Fireman’s Field complex and how it was expected to quadruple revenues from the property.
The mayor also highlighted the 43 new businesses that opened last year, the three that expanded, the seven that relocated and the two that were completely rebuilt.
He noted that youths comprise one third of the town’s population and that they were supported by $5,200 in sports grants the council made to six youth organizations in 2017. “We are a community, care about our youth and we support them,” he said.
Continuing on the subject of grants, Fraser mentioned that the town last year received a $6,000 grant for law enforcement operations. He also emphasized outreach programs—Coffee with a Cop, Books and Badges, and Public Safety Day—offered by the police department and fire department.
“We have a police force that is dedicated to community engagement,” he said. “They are community guardians for all of us.”
Fraser then moved on with a brief address of the current status of the town’s four ongoing investigations, which include an audit of the investigation on the police chief, an investigation into the alleged misconduct of the former interim town manager and two investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and “other complaints” made against Town Attorney Sally Hankins.
“Oh, that’s why most of us are here tonight,” he said jokingly as he pulled up the next slide of his presentation. “Although the media has continued to posit erroneous claims involving several of our town staff, Purcellville remains open for business … and is still delivering excellent services to our community.”
Although Fraser didn’t mention much about the details of the investigations, he said town staff has continued to “provide quality of service” for citizens and businesses. He further asked residents to be patient as the investigations are carried out.
“Until we receive the results of the present investigations, media speculation about what may or may not have occurred is not only pointless but also misleading,” he said. “I have complete confidence in the team of professionals we have engaged to review and to complete the investigations.”
The council is scheduled to get a closed-door briefing on the status of the investigations tonight.
From there, Fraser addressed the town’s future, talking about how the new Fireman’s Field management would expand programs and that the town would discuss the possibility of a bike and skate park on the Basham Simms Wastewater Facility property. He also touched on an initiative aimed to reclaim 100,000 gallons of water each day from the town’s wastewater treatment plant to turn around and sell for construction and agricultural purposes, and how the town would pursue involvement in a federal program that could test drone technology on the town’s Aberdeen property, eventually providing the town with a new revenue source.
“The future for Purcellville is bright,” he said. “We’ll continue to be a prosperous, business-friendly environment.”