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Halifax County Supes face choice over use of funds

SoVaNow.com / May 06, 2013
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors will decide tonight whether to accept the recommendation of its finance committee and divvy up $593,000 in available funds among the schools, the sheriff's department and other agencies.

The supervisors are slated to meet at 6:30 in the second floor meeting room of the Mary Bethune Complex in Halifax. The agenda kicks off with three public hearings.

However, the major item of business is the upcoming budget, which begins July 1, and what to do with $593,000 that has been freed up as a result of lower-than-expected costs in several areas.

Meeting on April 24, members of the Board’s finance committee, on a split 2-1 vote, recommended that the funds be chiefly divided between the sheriff’s office and the schools. The panel urged that $150,000 be spent on the relocation of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department, which must be carried out in order to begin the renovation of the Halifax County Courthouse. Members also recommended giving the Halifax County school division another $150,000, bringing the county’s contribution to the local schools to $13,417,529.

The finance committee also recommended earmarking another $50,000 as a down payment on a new front end loader for the Public Works Department.

The remaining funds would go to various other agencies and departments, including an additional $50,000 for the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, which earlier was recommended to receive a $100,000 cut from the current year’s budget.

Finance committee members also urged that another $50,000 be set aside to pay for architectural and engineering designs to run water and sewer lines to the fairgrounds property.

Other funds would be used to assist agencies which earlier were set to receive no help from the county, including $5,000 for the YMCA, $7,000 for the South Boston-Halifax County Museum, $10,000 for the Longwood Small Business Center, $3,200 for Chamber of Commerce dues, $3,950 for the Roanoke River Basin Association and $1,950 for the Roanoke River Rails to Trails.

Another $26,000 should be used to pay for a second set of personal protective gear for volunteer fire and rescue personnel, the finance panel recommended.

Also included in the committee’s proposal is a 50 percent reduction in business and professional taxes, which would reduce budgeted funds by $83,500.

Aside from the budget, the supervisors will host a number of public hearings tonight.

The first deals with an amendment to the County Code to require that no business license be issued until the applicant has produced satisfactory evidence that all delinquent real estate taxes owed by the business have been paid.

The second hearing focuses on a request to remove some 30 acres of land from the Rodgers Chapel Road Agricultural and Forestal District.

The final hearing deals with a request from the L.E. Coleman African American Museum, asking Halifax County to consider granting the museum a tax exemption on its $144 real estate tax bill.

County Administrator Jim Halasz is expected to report to the board on the nine responses received for bids on the architectural and engineering services for the courthouse design and construction project. The Buildings and Grounds committee is expected to meet some time this week and narrow the list down to four firms that will need to be interviewed.

Halasz is recommending that a special meeting of the board be called later in the month to award a contract to a bidder so work can begin in June.

The county administrator is also asking supervisors to approve the county’s health care insurance for FY14 from three plans. Those plans represent no significant changes to benefits to county employees except that the $200 low deductible plan has been eliminated. The three plans offer a $500, $1,000 and $2,000 deductible and individual employee shares of the monthly premium have been held at or below the current employee financial participation rate.

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