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Chase City tax rates prompt complaints / November 15, 2017

The recent round of tax bills in Chase City has brought forth complaints from two local citizens who say the town’s real estate and personal property tax rates are too high.

Jimmy Clary told members of Chase City Town Council at their monthly meeting Monday night that his personal property tax bill has gone up 50.5 percent since last year and that the increase is unreasonable.

The personal property tax rate in Chase City did increase 26.7 percent in July, going from $1.21 per hundred dollars in value to $1.65, but it did not rise by the 50.5 percent figure cited by Clary.

Town treasurer Virginia Gray said certain parts of Clary’s property may not qualify for personal property tax relief. Only vehicles of a certain age, weight or value receive relief. Boats or trailers are not eligible for tax relief under state law passed during the administration of former Gov. Jim Gilmore.

She added that personal property tax values are assessed by the Commissioner of Revenue, not the town. She merely applies the town’s tax rate to the property as valued and bills the amount accordingly.

Gray also noted that Chase City’s personal property tax rate of $1.65 is the same as Clarksville’s rate and only slightly higher than the rate set by South Hill, at $1.50.

Clary also called the town’s real estate tax rate — $0.40 per $100 in value — too high. It is the highest tax rate in the county. South Hill has the second highest rate at $0.34 per $100. Clarksville’s rate is $0.28 per $100.

His concerns were echoed by local business owner Kim Holz. She told council members that high taxes are a deterrent to businesses looking to locate in the area.

In other business, Robert Newell appeared again before Council to discuss issues related to his property on Walker Street. In October, the Town Council agreed to give Newell 45 days to make repairs to the former warehouse, or the town would move forward with plans to demolish the structure.

The warehouse was last used by Jonbil Manufacturing as a cutting room, but it has deteriorated since the factory closed to the point that there are now trees growing through the roof.

At Monday night’s meeting, Newell did not ask for an extension to complete work such as structural repairs and electrical upgrades. Instead he shared potential plans for the site. Newell said he’s been spoken with local distillery owner Robert Bondurant about putting a brewery in the building.

Town Manager Angela Lawrence confirmed with Bondurant that he had discussed potentially locating a brewery in a potion — about 25 percent — of the Walker Street warehouse, but talks are only in the beginning stages. First, Newell needs to bring the building up to code.

Lawrence said the town may be willing to work with Newell, extending the deadline for him to complete work on the building, if at the end of the 45-day period in early December he has made a good faith effort to address the code violations and other safety issues inside and outside the building.

In other business, the town has completed repairs to the water valves and water lines in town. Last weekend, as the public works department began repairs, they encountered unexpected problems which forced them to cut water supply to the town.

As a precautionary measure, Lawrence said the town issued a notice calling for residents to boil their tap water before drinking or using it for cooking.

Repairs were completed over the weekend, the lines were flushed and after testing the “boil alert” was lifted.

Holz, in her comments to Council, also took issue with the fact that the town failed to notify residents in advance that they might lose access to water during the repairs.

Council sent a letter of endorsement to the Virginia Tobacco Commission expressing their support for Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s request for funds to extend fiber broadband throughout its services area.

Council also approved a resolution authorizing the town to participate as an affiliate community in the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Virginia Main Street program.

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