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Debate continues over taxing issue in SoBo

South Boston Town Council again debated at Monday’s work session a proposal to impose a $100 annual tax on vehicle owners who do not display current Virginia plates but are required by law to do so.

It also discussed imposing a $250 penalty on resident owners for failure to register their vehicles with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles as required by law.

Collection options include:

Levying funds of taxpayers held by an employer, bank or other third party, with failure or refusal to comply requiring court action;

 Taking possession of the taxpayer’s property and holding it until payment is made;

 Litigating for payment of unpaid taxes and penalties; and

 Placing DMV Stops – if the vehicle is registered with DMV but does not display current Virginia tags, the $100 annual tax can be collected through the DMV program.

State Code gives the town the right to establish local license fees, according to Town Finance Officer Erle Scott, adding the $100 tax is not prorated in any way.

Vehicle owners would have 30 days to pay the tax before being subject to a $250 fine.

Scott admitted to council “the ordinance is pretty simple, but collection is miserable,” while Town Manager Ted Daniel added, it “would be hard and complicated to enforce if it were on the books.” 

Council debated several aspects of the proposed tax while questioning methods of enforcement, including having the town attorney prosecute offenders in court.

Councilman W. R. “Bill” Snead asked if police officers would have any discretion in enforcing the ordinance in the case of citizens simply forgetting to register their vehicles.

“This may be a little over the top,” Snead said.

Councilwoman Margaret Coleman cited other cases with possible exemptions to the letter of the ordinance, while Councilman Coleman Speece asked if unregistered vehicles are a big enough problem to warrant the proposed action being taken.

Speece suggested town staff and the police department sit down and come up with “something more concrete.”


Financial report

Scott reported expenditures and revenues were running close to targeted levels as of March 31.

Revenues reflect totals of $7,780,571, including $7,565,722 in current year revenues and $214,849 in prior year revenues out of a budget of $10,219,335.

The 2013-14 budget includes $8,859,927 in current year revenues and $1,359,408 in prior year revenues.

Expenditures as of March 31 reflect totals of $7,995,420 out of a budget of $10,219,335.

The cash operating general fund had a balance of $84,678 with a year-to-date balance of $2,086,479.

Selected general fund revenues are all above the 75 percent benchmark set by Scott, including categorical aid, with a year-to-date balance of $1,707,357 out of a budget of $2,239,240, or 76 percent of budgeted totals.

Current real estate tax collections stand at $844,130, or 98 percent of a budget of $860,000, and current personal property tax collections stand at $511,409, or 110 percent of a budget of $465,000.

Personal property tax relief collections stand at $295,432, or 100 percent of a budget of $295,432, and local tax collections stand at $303,632, or 79 percent of a budget of $385,000.

Occupancy tax collections stand at $104,354, or 91 percent of a budget of $115,000; meals tax collections stand at $847,120 or 77 percent of budget of $1,100,000; and business license tax collections are at $527,897, 107 percent of a budget of $490,000.

Scott reported a total of $224,373.54 in delinquent taxes and fees collected as of Dec. 12, including $39,507.19 in delinquent personal property tax relief collections; $101,390.28 in delinquent real estate tax collections; $23,233.30 in delinquent personal property tax collections; $214.89 in delinquent mobile home tax collections; $23,379.30 in penalties; and $36,648.58 in interest.

Those totals were 181 percent of a budget of $124,300.


Non-judicial property sale

The town offered 11 parcels for sale as part of a non-judicial delinquent tax sale conducted in March by Scott and the law firm of Clement & Wheatley.

Twelve parcels were advertised for sale, and taxes were brought current on one parcel prior to the sale, according to Scott.

Four parcels were purchased, Scott told council, with the town buying the remaining seven parcels for the amount of taxes due and with the town receiving a net revenue of $73.92 from the sale of four parcels.

The total cost of property not sold was $2,788,60, with net taxes to be charged off totaling $1,388.60.


Rezoning requests

The current issues committee discussed planning rezoning requests recommended for approval by the planning commission following a public hearing earlier in April.

Planners recommended:

 Creating a B-4 Downtown Business Expansion District for the Seymour Drive area to include light industrial uses;

 Amending zoning for off street parking to include parking regulations for group homes

 Amending B-1 Neighborhood Business District language to delete “auto service center,” from permitted uses, since they are also listed under used permitted by Special Use Permit

 Approving an application from Morgan Miller to rezone two parcels fronting Railroad Avenue from Dan River District to M-1 General Industrial District;

 Approving an application from Lucien and Virginia Roberts to rezone a parcel off Edgehill Lane from B-1 to PD-EI Planned Development Educational and Institutional District; and

 Approving an application from South Boston Church of God to rezone all its property in the vicinity of 3000 Halifax Road from R-AG and R-1 to B-2 General Business District. 

A public hearing at council’s May 12 meeting will receive citizen comment on the planning commission’s recommendations.