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Halifax budget rises with grant-funded projects

SoVaNow.com / June 13, 2019


The budget for the Town of Halifax is set to rise by 21 percent in the coming year mostly as a result of grant-funded enhancements to the Banister River Blueway and Halifax Streetscape Extension.

A first reading of the 2019-20 town budget was held Council's regular monthly meeting Tuesday night. At that same meeting, Council members also approved a revision to the town code that deals with landowners’ obligations to control invasive plant species such as bamboo.

The main focus of the meeting was the town’s fiscal year budget, which takes effect July 1. It calls for no tax or fee increases. “We’re better off in revenue than we are in expenses,” commented Councilman Bill Covington, chairman of the finance committee.

Town Manager Carl Espy presented details of the budget in both the work session and regular meeting. He explained that general fund revenues and expenditures will rise to $1,285,772, a 21 percent jump from the current budget, which runs out at the end of June.

The main causes behind the rising numbers are two projects, the blueway initiative and Halifax streetscape extension. In each instance, the town will be reimbursed by VDOT for its costs.

The remaining budget increase will go to cover the cost of services such as law enforcement, as well paying “some debt service,” said Espy.

During the work session, Covington said the Town is in a good spot for now financially, but it is “getting harder and harder to balance the budget with no increases.” He suggested an increase in real estate taxes may be needed in the future, though not until after the FY 2019-20 budget has been approved.

Town Council will vote on final adoption and appropriation of funds on June 26.

Council also took up the revision to the town code, setting out the definition of invasive weeds and other species of plants and how they must be handled in residential areas.

The code, having been revised for the past several months, defines which plant species must be contained on properties in the area. According to Councilman Michael Trent, the revised ordinance will help to form a “shield” for citizens who could not afford to take care of certain weeds, so that they would not be fined for areas that are out of their control.

On a motion by Trent, Council members approved the invasion plant code revision.

Other items discussed were the appointments of Mark Thackston and LaTonya Hamilton to serve on the Halifax County Service Authority board of directors. Current HCSA directors Joe Barkley and William Snead are stepping down on June 30.

After deeming both as “excellent candidates,” Trent moved to approve the appointments of Hamilton and Thackston, and the motion passed unanimously.

Council also set a special joint public hearing with town planners on June 26, to consider a special use permit request by Halifax resident Erin Shaughnessy to operate a home-based business on Mountain Road.

Both the permit hearing and the final reading of the 2019-20 budget are set to be held at Halifax Town Hall on June 26 at 7 p.m.



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