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Halifax County supervisors to enact budget, mull courthouse delay / May 06, 2019
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors will meet tonight to enact a new county budget for the coming fiscal year and decide what to do next with the courthouse renovation project as delays hold up work on a major portion of the project.

The board meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. at the Bethune Complex in Halifax, also includes a public hearing on the county’s six-year road improvement plan by VDOT and a public meeting on road closures from storm-related damages.

Supervisors will also be asked to review a draft ordinance implementing land-use taxation, under which qualifying agricultural and horticultural producers will receive a reduction on their real estate tax payments to the county.

Among the agenda highlights:

» Supervisors are expected to pass the county’s fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, a $95.5 million package that represents a 1.2 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year budget. The budget includes a 2-cent real estate tax increase and increases school spending by $575,077, for a total local contribution of $14.4 million to K-12 education.

The budget has been advertised and discussed at public hearings, and must go in effect by June 30 for the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. The new budget will run through June 30, 2020.

» County Administrator Scott Simpson is expected to provide an update on the courthouse project, which has partially stalled as the county awaits a final set of plans by CJMW Architects on a new wing. Work is ongoing to rebuild the foundation of the new structure, and crews also are relocating a storm drainage pipe that was found with the excavation of the old building footprint.

However, a significant item of business is on hold: the county has yet to receive CJMW’s design of a new building wing to replace the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and the old 1960s-era annex that housed General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Both of those buildings were torn down after supervisors abandoned plans to renovate the aging structures. CJMW is four months behind delivering a plan for a replacement building, which has kept Blair Construction, the general contractor, from providing a price for the work and the county from finalizing a project budget.

“Additional costs to the County related to these delays are likely and will be addressed at the appropriate time when they can be quantified,” Simpson advised board members in his written comments on tonight’s agenda.

The new county administrator is asking the courthouse committee of supervisors and county staff to develop recommendations on moving forward with the project.

» Supervisors will get an update on the much-discussed land use ordinance, which will replace the county’s now-defunct ag-forestal tax districts (AFDs). Under land use taxation, qualifying producers will pay real estate taxes based on a lowered assessment of the value of their land — one based on usage, not fair market value. Unlike AFDs, the land use taxation program will be open only to bona fide producers of agricultural or horticultural products. Timberland and open space tracts are excluded from the program.

Supervisors must enact the land use taxation ordinance by June 30 for the program to start in the 2020 calendar year.

» Citizens are invited to request improvements in local roads to include in the VDOT Six-Year Plan for Halifax County. While the list of roads already included in the 2019-2025 plan is a long one, VDOT will not have much money to spend this year on secondary road improvements: only enough to add about 0.7 miles of unpaved roads.

» Supervisors also will host a public hearing on a permit application by a new Nathalie business, Lab Powder Coating, which will offer services such as sand blasting, media blasting, parts cleaning and powder coating. The business is a two-person operation of Maurice and Bonnie Riddle, but their business plan projects five-year growth that will bring the operation up to 15-20 employees.

The finishing market encompasses products from custom cars to refurbished antiques, according to Maurice Riddle, who has 25 years’ experience as a machinist, toolmaker and manufacturing engineer. The business will operate out of the couple’s 1062 Thornton-Jim Trail Road residence.

The Planning Commission has recommended the conditional use permit, with stipulations that the Riddles have said are acceptable to them.

» Supervisors also will hear from South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips on setting up a separate license for fire department EMS services, and members will consider a change in the county’s parking ordinance for retail stores to lower the number of spaces that must be set aside for parking at small stores.

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