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Halifax County supervisors go forward with new budget

SoVaNow.com / May 08, 2014
The Halifax County Board Supervisors on Monday night approved an $88,315,299 budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Passage came on a 7-1 vote, with ED-5 Supervisor Barry Bank opposing the budget.

Board members also appropriated funds to cover anticipated expenses. Included in the approval were tax rates for the coming year. Only one rate has been increased — the real estate tax rate, which will be raised to 46 cents per $100 value, up from the current 45 cents. Even with the increase, the county will take in about the same amount of real estate tax revenue, due to a small average decline in tax assessments.

Other tax rates remain the same: a personal property tax rate of $3.60 per $100 value and a $1.26 per $100 value on machinery and tools.

Also approved were several changes in fees, including a $500 fee for a land use permit and an additional $5 fee for any lots to be added to an already completed plat. Two other changes were approved — a kennel fee for each block of 20 dogs; currently a kennel fee covers an unlimited number of dogs and an increase in fees for the Board of Zoning Appeals from $300 to $500.

Increased fees for the rental of the Fairgrounds and shelter rentals at Edmunds Park were also approved.

Supervisors also approved several minor spending changes totaling $35,000. That amount will be used to hire another agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension service. The nature of the new agent’s duties will be decided through a needs assessment jointly conducted by the county and Extension Service.

County matching funds of $35,000 will come from increased revenues of $2,200 for street lighting in Clover, $500 in added recreation fees, $1,000 more from the rental of the County Fairgrounds allocation and $500 more for planning fees. IDA expenses were trimmed by $5,000, Longwood Small Business Center was reduced by $500; tourism contributions to other entities were cut by $717; part-time tourism salaries trimmed by $3,779 and accompanying FICA costs of $304. Contributions to the Southside Community Services Board were lowered by $5,000 and those to the YMCA by $1,000.

Savings of $14,300 were achieved through cuts in a janitorial service contract of $12,000 and $2,300 less in janitorial supplies. With the added $4,200 in revenues and the cuts of $30,800 Supervisors indicated they could cover the County’s match for the new Ag agent.

In other financial considerations, supervisors approved options for health care insurance for the coming year for county employees.
Consultant Patsy Akridge reported to board members that Halifax County had a 111 percent loss ratio this year as compared with a 86.9 percent loss ratio last year. That increase drove the county’s insurance premiums up by 20.1 percent for the coming year which was estimated to cost the county $230,000. However after completing negotiations with Anthem, Akridge said the County’s increase in premiums would only be 17 percent over that of the current year.

She explained that during renewal of the County’s insurance beginning July 1, employees whose spouses have coverage available from their employees would be ineligible to be carried on the County plan.

The new plan, she pointed out, allows employees to better manage their health care costs by offering higher deduction plans, which will also save the County money. Supervisors approved passing those savings back to County employees through pay raises of an as yet unspecified amount.
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