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Developers make pitch for tax relief

South Boston News
A packed house turned out for Monday night’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which included two public hearings. (SOMcL photo)
SoVaNow.com / February 08, 2018


Local developers are urging Halifax County to provide incentives for new subdivision construction as part of an overall local economic development plan.

Christian Roberts, John Cannon and A.B. Jones approached the Halifax County Board of Supervisors on Monday night to argue for the rebate of all real estate taxes from any new subdivisions for the first 10 years after construction.

Board chairman Dennis Witt promised to bring the request up for study.

Roberts, the designated spokesperson for the trio of builders, said new subdivisions are essential if Halifax County is to compete successfully for businesses and industries. More subdivision housing is needed to appeal to young, single professionals who want homes with high speed internet, modern appliances, less acreage and low maintenance, said Roberts. New housing also should offer access to amenities such as The Prizery, the YMCA, walking trails, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, he added.

Property tax rebates would be “budget neutral,” said Roberts, because tax revenues would not come from the current year budget, but rather would be paid out after subdivisions are completed.

Other localities are providing development incentives, according to information in a two-page memo distributed to supervisors. Neighboring Danville/Pittsylvania provides developers with a $18,000 check for each new home built, the developers contended. The South Carolina city of Westminster, population 2,500, reimburses builders for 100 percent of their infrastructure costs over a period of 10 years.

Roberts said he was told by IDA Director Matt Leonard that Halifax had lost eight different business prospects over the past several years to the Danville/Pittsylvania area because of that community’s willingness to address the residential needs of its new businesses.

Board chairman Dennis Witt assured the developers that the board would weigh in on their request, but asked that the Finance Committee study the issue and report back with a recommendation to the full board.

In other action at the Monday night Board meeting:

Supervisors approved a partial tax exemption for Mid Atlantic Broadband of some $18,200. J.T. Davis noted that MBC has been key to expanding broadband coverage in rural parts of the county and has assisted county schools in obtaining internet service. Witt chimed in that MBC has been “at the top of helping with economic development and has been a very good neighbor to the county.”

However, County Administrator Jim Halasz had recommended taking no action on MBC’s request, calling it “a slippery slope” to offer tax exemptions to specific businesses or individuals.

The only person to address the subject during a public hearing was Cheryl Watts, who works with the local Humane Society. Watts asked supervisors to approve a similar personal property tax exemption for her group, which recently had to get a “new to us” van. A personal property tax exemption of some $40 to $50 for the Humane Society “would be enough to pay one-half of our monthly vet bills,” said Watts.

Davis moved to approve the tax exemption for MBC, and the motion passed on an 8-0 vote. The property tax exemption will apply to computer equipment and fiber cable that MBC owns and uses for charitable purposes.

Supervisors also approved a resolution asking VDOT to change Edmunds Boulevard in the Town of Halifax from a two-way to a one-way street. The traffic flow on the street, which runs behind the courthouse, would be rerouted so that motorists enter from Main Street and exit onto Mountain Road (State Route 360).

A presentation by VDOT on the future of Clarkton Bridge was postponed until the March meeting.

Supervisors approved a salary scale increase for newly hired county employees. The pay increase will carry a cost of $125,000 in the proposed 2018-19 fiscal year budget.

Supervisors also approved a request by Virgilina Mayor Ralph Murray for a moral obligation pledge of less than $300,000, which the Town will use to improve water and sewer service there. No direct outlay is involved; the moral obligation pledge is needed for Virgilina to qualify for borrowing for the water and sewer upgrades.

Supervisors also heard from Detra Carr, president of the local NAACP chapter. Carr expressed concerns about granting tax relief for small groups of individuals and businesses. Tax breaks for wealthy payers may ultimately penalize people who own singlewide trailers, he warned. “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Let us all pay our fair share,” said Carr.

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Comments

This is crazy. Farmers can't get into the ag districts but the developers want a tax break? John Cannon an crowd are rich enough.

Comments

Amen. In most localities developers pay proffers, up to $15,000 but usually less, to help the county cover infrastructure costs like schools, water & sewer, etc.

Why not rename the article "Rich Man Begs for Everyone Else's Money"?


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