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Halifax County Tax Rates See No Increase

County real estate taxpayers will pay 43 cents per $100 assessed value on their land holdings in the coming year after the Halifax County Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to set tax rates as previously advertised.

In addition to the real estate tax rate, supervisors set the machinery and tools tax rate at $1.26 and personal property tax rate at $3.60 per $100 valuation.

Setting the tax rates had topped the order of business Monday night along with adopting the FY 2011 county budget.

However, supervisors took no action on adopting the proposed $89,971,290 budget citing lack of state budget information.

“We don’t have the final numbers from the state on what they’re doing for the constitutional offices. And as long as we approve the budget by June, we’ll be alright,” said ED#4 Supervisor Doug Bowman. “We’re still looking at making changes.”

Finance Director Stephanie Jackson said, “The county hasn’t had enough information yet to really have a good budget for the board to adopt. With this being a long General Assembly session, it went that much further, and it’s just been slow coming out.

“Right now we are waiting for the analysis to come out as to what the reductions mean to us as localities,” Jackson said, referring to state budget cuts that she said can be calculated several different ways.

The finance director further said she has quantified what the reductions are for the constitutional offices including cuts of 4 percent for the sheriff, 3.9 percent for the commonwealth’s attorney, 18.7 percent for the treasurer, 14.8 percent for the commissioner of revenue and 15 percent for libraries.
“What we need to find out is what base they are looking at for the reduction and what is excluded,” she said, further explaining that historically the state has excluded the constitutional officers’ salaries from the base budget reductions.

In addition, Jackson said the county is waiting to find clarification concerning the locality reduction payments that the county has remitted to the state for the last two years.

“We need to know if we are expected to do this on top of these state budget reductions, and so far that clarification has not come through,” she told supervisors. “We are hoping to hear something within the week at the latest.”

Once the county receives the final figures from the state, Bowman said the budget could change from what staff has recommended.

He anticipated further budget discussions taking place at the board’s April 5 meeting and at the joint meeting between the towns of Halifax and South Boston and the county board on April 19.

Bowman explained supervisors needed to adopt the tax rates on Monday so the finance director could begin working on preparing the biennial real estate tax bills.

“I have a feeling it will be the first meeting in May before we adopt the final budget,” Bowman said.

The draft budget is based on a real estate tax of 43 cents per $100 in property value, down one cent from this year’s rate of 44 cents per $100.

The reduction comes in response to the county’s recent reassessment of real property, which showed a slight increase in property values throughout the county.

The new rate will generate approximately the same amount of revenue as the current rate, according to county officials.

Personal property and machinery and tools tax rates will remain unchanged from the current budget year, which ends June 30.

Bowman made the motion to set the tax rates which was seconded by ED-6 Supervisor Wayne Conner and unanimously approved.

In other action Monday evening, supervisors heard a progress report from County Finance Director Jackson on the recent upgrade of the county’s MUNIS system performed while that office was closed last Thursday and Friday.

She explained the actual upgrade went “very smoothly.” However, Sunday night’s storm resulted in “several issues with IP addresses and things that storms create.”

As of end of business on Monday, Jackson said all but one issue had been resolved.

Also Monday evening Chairman Fitzgerald told fellow supervisors he has received numerous phone calls regarding allowing Dixie Youth Baseball to continue to use the field at the former Halifax Elementary School.

Halifax Town Council had asked the board of supervisors to consider finding alternate sites for the Dixie Youth Baseball League to play ball after this season.

The county administrator suggested earlier this month the league could possibly use the ball field at Sydnor Jennings Elementary School in the northern part of the county.

“I’d like to ask this board not to be so fast in doing that and honor their request,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s going to inconvenience some people, and may even cause some parents to pull their kids out of the program if we were to move that to Sydnor Jennings.”

Fitzgerald suggested supervisors take more time and consider an alternate site in the Halifax area that is closer in proximity to where it is now.

Supervisor Bowman clarified the county was responding to an inquiry or request from Halifax Town Council about finding an alternate site.

“We did not initiate this topic, and I think in the interest of cooperation, we were just offering to explore since the town wanted Halifax Dixie Youth to move. If Halifax Dixie Youth was amenable, we just offered our assistance, but we did not initiate this discussion,” Bowman added.

Fitzgerald said Dixie Youth leaders and coaches have contacted him speaking out against such a move.

ED#2 Supervisor Tom West said he also has received telephone calls from people opposed to moving the league and questioned whether the Dixie Youth League could be moved outside the Halifax area without violating the franchise.

West concluded discussion reminding his fellow supervisors the land belongs to the county, and the county has not told the league to move.

The supervisors’ next meeting is set for Monday, April 5.