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Halifax County supes hold off final vote on land use taxation

SoVaNow.com / June 06, 2019
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors held off making a decision on land use taxation during a mostly uneventful monthly meeting Monday night in Halifax.

Supervisors hosted a brief public hearing on the proposed tax ordinance that drew favorable comments from two speakers, Jimmy Anderson and Gregory Wade of the northern Halifax County area. The land use taxation program has been offered by supervisors as a way to help farmers following the expiration of Ag-Forestal Districts (AFDs), which were discontinued by the board due to the tax impact of the program.

Supervisors have touted land use taxation as an incentive that will be limited solely to “bona fide” agricultural and horticultural producers. The program grants a lowered tax assessment on farmland, based on the use value of the acreage, not its fair market value, which results in reduced real estate taxes for participants.

Excluded from the program are open-space landowners and others not involved in active farming operations. The ordinance allows participants to claim 19.9 acres of timberland for the reduced assessment, but it excludes timber producers.

ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon, renewing his past complaints about the ordinance, said timber owners should benefit from land use taxation, too. “I feel like it’s incomplete ... when we look at what timber brings to the county,” he said.

Supervisors opted to delay a vote after ED-7 supervisor Garland Ricketts said he wanted more time to read over recent modifications in the ordinance that were not listed in the board packet that members receive before the regular monthly meetings.

The Board of Supervisors is slated to meet again on June 25, at which time members will vote on the ordinance. It must be enacted by June 30 to go into effect in the 2020 calendar year.

In other action:

» After a brief discussion on how to fairly spread around limited funds in the county’s Six-Year Road Improvement Plan, supervisors agreed to prioritize the paving of a 0.7 mile stretch of White Oak Lane in ED-2, represented by Hubert Pannell.

Initially, two roads in Brandon’s district — White’s Lane and Talley Loop — were set to be added into the Six-Year Plan, but after it was pointed out that Brandon’s district had the highest share of road improvement funding, he offered a motion to switch the funding to Pannell’s district instead.

“That was a noble thing to do,” said Board Chair Dennis Witt.

» Supervisors also reviewed work change orders to the courthouse, with a recently discovered need to move a storm drainage pipe running under the courthouse square. Supervisors continue to await a final design for a new building behind the historic courthouse, which is undergoing foundation and stabilization work.

The new building will replace the 1960s annex, previously the home of General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney office building. Both structures were torn down after it was determined that they could not be successfully renovated.

» Supervisors also ratified two agreements to pave the way for the county to receive $231,108 in state grant funding for rural broadband internet service.

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