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Supes: Please back a Halifax County sales tax

SoVaNow.com / May 09, 2019


The Halifax County Board of Supervisors, meeting Monday night in Halifax, approved the county’s new $95.5 million budget and set a June date for a public hearing on a proposed land use taxation ordinance to lower real estate tax bills for county farmers.

Aside from handling mostly routine business, supervisors had one subject in mind that prompted members to make direct appeals to the public:

Vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum to add a 1-cent sales tax in Halifax County, with the money dedicated to pay for school capital improvements.

Supervisors pressed the argument for the sales tax despite uncertainty around the project the new levy will fund: modernization of the high school.

“We should focus not so much on new or renovated, but on our essential need for the penny increase,” said ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon. He was referring to the debate over whether Halifax County High School should be rebuilt from scratch or receive a less costly makeover.

Supervisors took action on that front, too, making official the choice of an architect to review the study for the School Board conducted by Moseley Architects. Trustees, citing Moseley’s work, have voted to build an all-new high school that is expected to cost roughly $99 million.

Supervisors hired a Blacksburg firm, OWPR Inc., to scrutinize the Moseley plans and examine how parts of the high school might be renovated for future use. In approving the $96,000 contract, supervisors chose OWPR to provide a “second opinion” on the high school project.

Monday, however, members suggested that decisions on how to proceed with the high school could take a backseat to the question of how to pay for it.

Supervisors noted that the sales tax is projected to raise nearly $70 million over the 20-year authorization period, greatly alleviating the need to pay for school capital projects relying primarily on county real estate taxes.

The local sales tax would also be paid by outsiders who shop in Halifax County, Brandon added.

“A penny sales tax is shared by all, not only by our citizens, but by people who shop here,” he said.

J.T. Davis agreed, calling the sales tax “a user fee” that Halifax County can ill-afford to let pass.

William Bryant Claiborne, in ED-8, suggested the Board of Supervisors and School Board should set aside any disagreements about the high school project and focus on the need to secure new sales tax revenue with the fall referendum.

“We need to stop talking about new construction or renovation. We can decide on that later,” he said. “We need to get that penny adopted for the future of our county.”

Davis offered a mild objection to comments by School Board Chairman Joe Gasperini that the School Board is moving forward with plans for a new high school, and supervisors are “playing catch-up” with the hiring of their own architect.

“We’re definitely on different pages there,” said Davis. He added, “I don’t think we’re playing catch-up. We were brought in at a late stage.”

Board members expect to receive the findings of OWPR on the alternatives to modernize HCHS by the end of June. In the meantime, a school facilities committee appointed by the School Board will receive presentations from three architectural firms on a design for a new high school.

Supervisors have until August to place a referendum on the November ballot to enact the proposed 1-cent sales tax increase.

In other action at Monday’s board meeting:

» Supervisors heard from County Administrator Scott Simpson on recent construction delays at the courthouse square. The county is waiting for its architectural firm, CMJW, to produce new designs for an addition behind the historic courthouse to replace two buildings that had to be torn done rather than renovated. The new building, once it is constructed, will house the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and general district and juvenile and domestic relations court.

The unanticipated task of redoing that portion of the courthouse project has delayed work and will lead to future costs, Simpson said, that he will explain to members once he has the information for architects and the project general contractor.

» Supervisors approved the 2019-2020 budget without comment, after months of crafting the package and hearing public comment.

» Members also set a public hearing on the land use taxation ordinance — another much-discussed item — to take place at their June 3 meeting.



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Comments

If it passes it will be because of south boston. I have talked to many people in my district and they are against it. I talked to HCHS employee and they don't want a new school. This person said I can't believe that the citizens and the school admin is this stupid. We don't have the money to pay for it. Bad thing is the idiots on the school board are going to try an force the BOS into tax increases if this fails in the fall. I know I am voting against it and we need to get everyone to demand there supervisor to take a no new tax pledge.

Comments

OK, so now the BOS are asking the public to support and pass the sales tax referendum without knowing EXACTLY how these monies will be spent. I urge everyone to read the Bill Passed by the General Assembly. It provides for a 20 year sales tax in order to fund school upkeep and renovations, however it is NOT tied to the High School. The BOS are in control of monies passed down to the School Board, yet the School Board is in control of how that allocation gets spent. The School Board wants a new $100 million High School, which I don't support, but the point here is this sales tax will surely remain in effect for 20 years, due to the fact that the County will ALWAYS need to maintain & renovate the various schools and there will never be enough money according to the BOS. Don't believe J.T. Davis, this is not a user fee, its a new source of local revenue, plain and simple, that the good ole boys want to pass off on the poor County taxpayers. VOTE NO in November!!!

Comments

Quoting a previous post from allpolitical2, " Love when people disagree with people the name calling comes out." And yet, here I read a new post from allpolitical2 calling those that do not share the same view, "idiots." Sounds like name calling to me and from a person that has publicly posted that they hope to be in a local government position in the future.

Comments

I don’t know anybody that will vote for the tax increase. I don’t believe HC will maintain a new or renovated bldg any better that it ever has. VOTE AGAINST THE TAX INCREASE!!!

Comments

VOTE NO for TAX INCREASE!! They are going to keep raising you county taxes even with this sales tax. Do not believe anything this Board Of Supervisors or School board tell you. Someone is going to fill their pockets if this school is built, and we have to foot the bill!


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