Town Manager Sees Bright Future For T’ville

Posted: April 16, 2014

Timberville Town Manager Austin C. Garber (second from left) poses with other town officials and employees on Monday. Garber, in a Q&A with Daily News-Record reporter Jeremy Hunt, said one challenge on the horizon for the Rockingham County town is the potential that a number of longtime staff members may soon retire. “It’s something we’re going to have to look at to see how that transition will go when those employees do decide when it’s time to retire,” he says. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)

Timberville Town Manager Austin C. Garber recently took some time with the Daily News-Record to talk about the town, its challenges and its future.
Garber, a Timberville native who lives in Fulks Run, has served as the town manager for a decade.

Following are excerpts from the interview.

Daily News-Record: How was Timberville affected by the recession and how has it recovered since?

Austin Garber: Being a local level like this it seemed like we were a little more immune to the recession than you would get at some upper levels of government.

We’re not overly dependent on state funding. Our tax base comes from real estate taxes and personal property taxes. Sales tax was down throughout the state, but we didn’t notice it that significantly.

Before the housing market went into that slump, we had a few years where the building was going extremely strong, much more so than we had experienced in the past.

We had huge amounts of connection fees coming in, where developers were prepaying the connection fees. When the housing market slumped, we saw a definite reduction in the amount of connection fees we were getting, but the building was more of a stable pace than we had seen.

I know some localities where new construction went to nothing. We didn’t experience that.

DN-R: What’s new in Timberville?

AG: The new medical center that Sentara RMH Medical Center is working on. They’re trying to get started here just south of town. The plan is to have it brought into town through a boundary-line adjustment.

That’s going to be a huge addition to the town and to the whole community. Even though it’s planned to be in the corporate limits of Timberville, it’s going to be a great location to serve Broadway-Timberville and the surrounding community.

We also have a massage and juice bar, That’s the Spot, that opened up recently. Tina’s Family Restaurant actually closed, but Kathy’s Café is going to be opening up in there. Main Street Diner is going to be another new restaurant.

DN-R: Where do you see Timberville in 10 years?

AG: I think we’re on a good track for our growth. We’re growing, but it’s not uncontrolled. We’re getting new things like the medical facility and new businesses in town.

There’s more residential being built in developments that have already been started. By that point, they’ll most likely be built out for those areas.

It’ll be steady growth to that point. Hopefully, it’ll draw in a few more businesses and give the residents more stores they’ll have access to.

We’ve got some other changes the town’s looking at. We’re working on a lot of our infrastructure and water system as far as putting up the new tank and doing improvements in that area to get things caught up that we’ve been working on catching up for years.

We’re trying to catch up so we can get to the point where we can be more proactive and address the issues before they occur, but there are so many issues to catch up to that it’s hard to get ahead.

DN-R: What challenges does the town face moving forward?

AG: The first thing that comes to mind is probably staffing. We’ve got a lot of employees who have worked for the town for quite some time.

Some of them have been here for 30 or nearly 30 years, and could be close to retirement age. The police department has got a pretty seasoned department, where they will become eligible for retirement within that 10-year period.

So, it’s something we’re going to have to look at to see how that transition will go when those employees do decide when it’s time to retire, especially with the wealth of knowledge they would take with them.

Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or jhunt@dnronline.com

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