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Lower spending, flat rates in South Boston budget

SoVaNow.com / April 03, 2014
South Boston Town Council got its first look Monday at the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year — a $9,171,495 package that is three percent less than the $9,559,927 current budget.

In presenting the recommendation, Town Manager Ted Daniel noted that it calls for no increases in tax rates, licenses or fees.

Daniel said South Boston can expect to dip into its reserve balance for $187,102 to fully cover the town’s support of the Halifax Education Foundation (for which South Boston and Halifax County approved a three-year payment to match a Tobacco Commission grant) and the lease program for a Public Works vehicle.

The current year budget, which ends June 30, set aside the use of $500,000 from the town’s reserve fund balance.

The new budget proposes $30,000 for contingency spending by Town Council, but defers several other projects including any increases in the employee Pay for Performance Program. Also deferred are purchases of new police vehicles; contracted maintenance services are to be reduced, while public works buildings and grounds maintenance will be deferred.

One police position will remain unfilled, and the town will hold off on replacing a leaf collection machine.

On the revenue side, the receipt of miscellaneous revenue in the coming year is expected to more than double, going from $16,000 this year to $33,000 next year. Collections from general property taxes are expected to grow by 1.9 percent while permits and other licenses are expected to grow by 35.4 percent, from this year’s 650 to 880 next year.

Finance Director Earle Scott told Council members that he feels the current budgeted totals from the occupancy tax, meals tax and business license tax can be increased in the coming year since these categories are generating more income than expected in this year’s budget.

Projected expenses are expected to drop by a third in the coming year, with the Town Manager’s compensation going from $218,563 in the current budget to $145,971 with Daniel’s pending retirement. Also, the town will not have to spend $4,300 for elections next year, and street cleaning expenses are expected to drop by 45.7 percent from $174,925 to $94,988 since the town will not be purchasing a new vehicle.

More money will be needed for landfill closure maintenance — up from this year’s $25,900 to $31,900 next year. More funding is also anticipated for parks and recreation – going from $252,365 this year to $286,033 next year.

In other business Monday, members of Council’s Finance Committee heard both Police Chief Jim Binner and Scott discuss the pros and cons of the implementation of a $100 tax on motor vehicles that do not display current license plates as required by Virginia law.

The discussion centered on residents who do not register their vehicles with DMV within the 30-day period required by the state, but who for some reason do continue to use their same license. It was suggested that some individuals may only be staying in the community for a short time, perhaps to help a sick or elderly relative while expecting to return to their homes more quickly.

Binner said he did not see the problem as a significant one, but members of the committee pointed out that such individuals expect to get police or fire protection if they need it; consequently they should pay the tax. Committee members asked that the proposed ordinance be turned over to the town’s legal counsel for approval before bringing it to a vote.

Also, the Current Issues Committee asked that $600,000 (state funds) be included in the budget for the Washington-Coleman Housing Rehab Project.

They also set a timeline for approval of the Housing Rehab Program Design at the April 14 regular meeting of council. Committee members also asked that the bylaws for the rehab board be adopted and a member of Council and a representative of the community be appointed to work on the project.

Council member Margaret Coleman has volunteered to be its representative and Ellen Kent has agreed to be the community member on the rehab board.

South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips and Deputy Chief Dwight Spangler brought the Fire Department’s annual report to Council. Their report showed that the department made a total of 2,129 calls during 2013, with 73 of those being fire calls.

Structure fire calls increased from 16 in 2012 to 28 in 2013. Vehicle fires accounted for 13 of the fire calls. With a total of 3,384.31 man hours devoted to the work of the department, the good news was there were no fire related injuries or deaths.

Both men expressed some concerns about the number of EMS calls, many of which could have been handled with less expense by the individuals who made the calls. Bringing out the ambulances and personnel for a sore toe, they noted, can be very expensive.

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Comments

Why are we giving tax money to a non profit like the HEF? Also town has way to many cops, and other people employed. THey should cut more.

Comments

As is often the case, intent (getting rid of junkers) may be good but practice often turns out differently.

These people need to be very careful with that unlicensed vehicle "tax". Code of Virginia § 46.2-752 Section A plainly states "The amount of the license fee or tax imposed by any county, city, or town on any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer shall not be greater than the annual or one-year fee imposed by the Commonwealth on the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer."

Now, if the owner is paying no license fee to the state, wouldn't one think a locality would be hard pressed to enact or defend such a fee/tax?

Other paper reports they're modeling it on Fairfax County which has such a tax, but past experience with antique-licensed cars has proven such an ordinance runs afoul of the CoV.

I'm sure these PTB think none of us know how to research the Code.

Comments

Powerhouse,

I seems your logic is a bit faulty in that just because a resident is are not paying the car tax does not mean they are not subject to it. The way I read the proposal is that town will only access their tax if the owner of the car is subject to state car tax.

Comments

Town should not charge a tax at all if I own a car and it is not licensed. If I own a car and it is in front of my house or on my property it is none of their business. Just another way for the government to steal money! I don't see how anyone can defend this.

Comments

Noneya- not my logic. It's state law.

That's why localities that collect county vehicle license fee generally set it the same as whatever the state charges for that vehicle- they are limited by the state statute above. If that wasn't in the code you can bet money-hungry local governments would really rape you on car license fees.

Granted, my experience has been with antique-licensed cars, but that statute still prevents local government from charging more for a license (a tax by any other name) than the state charges. DMV rulings have been consistent on that time and again. They need to be very careful.


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