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South Boston dips into budget reserve – but not by as much as expected

SoVaNow.com / August 01, 2013
South Boston Finance Director Erle Scott on Monday evening reported to Council on the Town’s general fund revenues — $10,482,561 in June, the close of the town’s fiscal year.

Expenditures over the fiscal year added up to $11,144,953, leaving a shortfall of $662,392 that had to be drawn from the Town’s fund balance to pay the bills. However, that was an improvement over an earlier projection that suggested $1,094,000 would be needed from the fund balance.

South Boston collected more revenue from the meals tax — $1,147,409 — than it received from its real estate tax ($849,553).

Personal property taxes brought in another $498,048 and the business license tax generated $560,671 in income. The occupancy tax added yet another $161,012.

A separate revenue category, listed by Scott simply as local taxes, brought in another $409,577.

Scott said his office was successful in collecting $171,653 in delinquent taxes and penalties, with $52,832.08 of that amount representing real estate tax payments.

Penalties on the past due bills totaled more than $21,500, with interest amounting to over $22,500.

In other business Monday, members of the Current Issues Committee heard Police Chief Jim Binner discuss the Town’s problems with dangerous dogs and reviewed portions of the state code dealing with the issue.

Binner recommended that South Boston’s town code be amended to reflect the state code, which defines a dangerous dog as “a canine or canine crossbreed that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person or companion animal or killed a companion animal.”

The state code calls for the owner of any such animal to obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate from the local animal control officer or treasurer for a $150 fee. The certificate can be renewed annually for a fee of $85.

Committee members moved to have the issue placed on Council’s August agenda.

In other business, Public Works Director Alan Auld reported to the committees the problems his department is having with fast-growing grass and weeds after the community received record rainfall this summer.

Auld said his department has spent $52,379 on mowing operations this year, compared to $42,700 at this time last year. With June’s rainfall of 6.7 inches, he said he has had to schedule two week mowing cycles in all three town cemeteries — Oak Ridge, Memorial Gardens and Rose Hill — rather than the usual 3 week cycles.

Also, he has had to spend $22,000 spraying sidewalks where grass grows through cracks or where property owners have cut grass nearby, sending the cuttings onto the sidewalks.

Responding to criticism of the town’s mowing practices that was aired at an earlier meeting of Council, Auld said he has hired Reaves Lawn & Garden to help, but at this time he has only two fulltime employees cutting grass since several are out with injuries.

Also, committee members recommended that George Burton, who worked for a number of years with Bethlehem Steel Corporation before he retired to South Boston, be appointed to fill the seat vacated by the death of Jim Burton. The matter will be put on Council’s August agenda.

Members also delayed taking action on re-appointing members to the Lake Country Development Corporation until their October meeting.

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