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Halifax County supervisors set 46¢ property tax, keep revenues flat
SoVaNow.com / April 10, 2014
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors, by a 6-2 vote Monday night, approved a 46 cent real estate tax rate to go with the new county budget that begins in July. The new rate is one cent higher than the current year’s real estate tax rate, but it is “revenue neutral” since it is expected to bring in the same amount of tax dollars with a decline in property values under the county’s recent tax reassessment.
Finance Chairman and ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman moved for approval of the 46 cent rate, noting that one half of the increase would cover the revenue loss of the newly assessed real estate . The other half is earmarked to cover the cost of renovations to the Sheriff’s Office and the interim courts facility, both necessitated by the Courthouse Renovation Project.
His motion was seconded by ED#6 Supervisor Larry Giardano, who noted that while he was opposed to raising taxes, he felt “our backs are against the wall. We have no other choice.” In addition to Bowman and Giardano’s support others voting for the 46 cent real estate tax rate included ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis, ED-2 Tom West, ED-3 Ray Owen and ED-8 Bryant Claiborne.
Opposing the rate were ED-5 Barry Bank and ED-7 Supervisor Lottie T. Nunn, who said she had received a number of calls from women in her area asking her to vote against the increase in real estate taxes. “Many of them have lost their husbands and are living on a fixed income. They are worried about the rising cost of medicines and keeping their houses warm.”
Bank said he could not support the increase because the “budget funds costly expenditures that continue to yield negligible results.” Terming the proposed budget as likely the tightest budget in recent years, Bank said the county is faced with either cutting expenditures or increasing taxes. “Every effort should be made to accomplish the former before considering the latter,” he said.
Bank cited the Halifax County IDA, saying that over the past 12 years it has received over $100 million from the Tobacco Commission for economic development while Halifax County has lost nearly 2,000 jobs in that same period. He called for greater accountability for all those agencies that are being supported by the County Board of Supervisors. Several other board members, Davis and Owen, chimed in agreeing that the board needs greater accountability from those it supports.
In discussing accountability Giardano pointed to a memo from Tourism Director Linda Shepperd who advised that her board had authorized the purchase of a $33,000 sign for the local Visitor Center located at the intersection of US 360 and 58.
Noting that Supervisors had to cut $30,000 from their budget for the coming year, Giardano said he felt the expense of a $33,000 sign was “out of line.”
Bank agreed saying “this is not a good time to be doing that.” He added that if tourism has that kind of money to spend, then perhaps the county needs to look at its placing its budgeted funds elsewhere.
Owen termed the purchase as a “reckless move,” commenting that the neon sign would only be visible at night and the tourism center is not opened at night. “So all people will see is a pretty sign,” he said.
Davis also questioned the purchase, asking if it was simply “a want or a must. We simply do not have enough money for all our wants, “ he explained.
Shepperd responded that her board was not seeking additional money for the sign. She said the board had authorized the purchase of the sign on a 10-1 vote in early March, capping the price at $20,000. Then at a special called meeting on March 24, the board approved the purchase of the $33,000 sign because it had a larger viewing area and greater visibility with a life expectancy of 11.4 years. Also the higher quality of the sign maintains the clarity and vivid colors for the life of the sign.
The new sign, Shepperd said, will be used to increase notice of civic events as well as announcing weather alerts.
Supervisors also approved their local $13,377,529 contribution for county schools for the coming year while realizing that some changes may have to be made to the overall budget once the state budget is finalized. Bowman explained that the schools are still in the dark on parts of the budget and won’t know the full extent until they know what state funds they may expect to receive.
CommentsGood for Bank and NUnn. They get it. WTH does the visitor center need with a 33000 sign. There budget needs to be cut? How many people have even been in that waste of money project?
- By allpolitical2 on 04 / 10 / 14
CommentsMr. Banks is the only BOS member with gonads. I think the rest were castrated at birth. He is the only member with any integrity at all. Larry G. swore he would not raise taxes when he ran. He is a super looser!!!!!!!!!!
- By Good on 04 / 11 / 14
CommentsMe Too Friend. Our district is already searching for a replacement for Mr.G.
- By Me Too on 04 / 11 / 14
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