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Halifax Town Council approves new Italian restaurant / June 11, 2020
Halifax Town Council gave a thumbs-up Tuesday for local restaurateur Viny Sarnataro to renovate the interior of the Halifax Farmers Market for his new Italian restaurant in town.

Council agreed to the lease of 3,148 square feet to Sarnataro, who said he expects to open the restaurant in a portion of the farmers market building by late summer or early fall. Sarnataro said he is still deciding on a name for the new business.

The founder of Italian Delight in Centerville, Sarnataro said he plans to offer traditional Italian fare at the new eatery, with socially-distanced indoor and outdoor dining. He also said “we will be bringing the Strawberry Festival and other events” to the Town of Halifax. Sarnataro began the Strawberry Festival in 2017 as a fund raiser for local non-profit causes.

Town officials expressed excitement at the potential for the new restaurant, which will be a separate operation from Italian Delight. “It’s going to be more than great food — there’s possibility it will bring more businesses and definitely more people to Halifax,” said Council member Bill Covington.

In other business at Council’s Tuesday night meeting, members went into closed session to discuss plans for “Halifax Tavern”, also known as Bell’s Tavern, a circa-1815 structure on 710 North Main Street near the 501-360 intersection at the northern edge of town. After Council returned into open session, members asked that a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) be drafted with Christopher Todd Hunley, accepting his proposal to dismantle the old tavern building in order to preserve it and rehabilitate it at another site.

The property became the town’s through tax delinquency proceedings. The Halifax County Historical Society, noting its significance, has made attempts over the years to find a buyer to preserve the structure. Hunley will coordinate with the Halifax County Historical Society and Preservation Virginia to document the tavern’s significance — its materials, dimensions, and provenance — and carry out its rehabilitation and relocation.

“The town will also accomplish removing a blighted property, without having to bulldoze an important historic structure which will instead find a new home within the region,” said Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy.

A final item discussed by Council was the upcoming town budget for fiscal year 2020-21, which begins July 1. The budget was approved on a first reading and Council set June 24 as the date to formally adopt the package.

With no increase in taxes, “it is a tight budget,” said Covington, who chairs the finance committee. Covington said the budget keeps expenditures to a bare minimum.

“It’s a balanced budget,” added Espy, who explained there is a 10 percent decrease across all line spending items with the exception of police, which will receive a 2.45 percent bump to replace two SUVs, and street improvements, which will see an 84.14 percent increase in spending.

VDOT grant funds will pay for the Halifax Streetscape Extension-War Memorial Enhancement Project, along with funding for the Town Cemetery, sidewalk repair program and VDOT stormwater improvements. Additional budget spending is set aside for street material and supplies with downtown streetscape improvements, landscaping of the town’s clock plaza, Banister River gateways, mowing at the town’s southern gateway/highway commercial corridor and invasive weed control.

The projected general fund total is $1,410,700, roughly a 10 percent increase over the current FY 2019-20 budget. The general fund is divided into these spending categories: Administration $370,715.00, Business Development $17,400.00, Municipal Building $32,600.00, Police $385,885.00, Fire Department $54,900.00, Streets $417,000.00, and Sanitation $132,200.00. Town employees may receive a 1.5 to 2 percent raise, depending on their evaluations.

Halifax Town Council will hold a special meeting for final budget approval on Wednesday, June 24 at 7 p.m.

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