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Hearing set on $1.4M budget in town of Halifax

Halifax Town Council will hold a public hearing on its proposed $1.4 million 2014-15 budget Tuesday night when the meeting gets underway in the town hall following the 6:30 p.m. committees meeting and work session.

No tax increases in real estate and personal property will be required to balance the budget, according to Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy, and town employees are scheduled to get 3 percent raises based on annual evaluations.

The budget general fund revenue sheet totals $1,460,523, down $133,254 from the current amended budget by 8.36 percent. 

The variability is due largely to the grant funded Banister River Gateway Project construction slated to be complete by late summer. 

A total of $11,000 included in the proposed budget to support the Halifax Library at the current level, and $12,000 has been designated for the new Halifax Volunteer Fire Department truck.

A total of $20,218.88 is proposed to pay for ongoing vehicle replacement costs for the police department, and another $9,899.94 has been earmarked for the sanitation department vehicle replacement costs. The upcoming year’s budget includes the first payment on these vehicles. 

Since the Halifax County Commissioner of Revenue’s Office has not provided the 2014 reassessed value of real estate within town’s corporate limits, Espy said the budget assumes a 1.51 percent decrease reflected from the 2012 assessment of $96,065,118. 

However, higher revenue adjustments from law enforcement funds, personal property taxes, meal tax, bank stock tax, farmers market income, business license fees and other sources will not require town council to raise the tax rate, Espy said.

The town’s real estate tax rate will remain at 17.5 cents per $100 assessed value, the same rate that has been in effect since 2010.

Council has proposed to raise the machinery and tool tax from 40 cents to 50 cents, only the second raise since 2000 when the original 30 cent rate was increased to the current rate of 40 cents.

 According to Espy, the town’s rate remains very competitive compared to the county’s rate of $1.26 per $100 value.

 The tax on personal property holds at $1.68 per $100 assessed compared to $2 per $100 in South Boston.

The amount of relief to owners of eligible personal property remains at the current 0.5189 PPTRA rate. 

This year, operational expenses in public safety includes $12,000 toward the purchase of a new fire department pumper truck, and $15,907 is included in the police department budget to bring its roster back to four full-time officers following the department’s reduction three years ago. 

Operational expenses in the sanitation department is increasing 13.31 percent and includes $16,474 for the new trash truck payment and to bring the part-time sanitation employee to full-time.

Due to savings through the town’s healthcare plan where major premium increases have been avoided over the past four years, employee raises have been included in the proposed budget, Espy said, along with 1 percent per employee added due to retirement contributions to the Virginia Retirement System.

The contributions are being deducted from paychecks at an incremental rate over the remaining two years. 

Also included in the budget is $5,500 for farmers market development and the façade improvement program with other events’ related expenses remaining level.

A break down of the $1.4 million proposed general fund expenses includes the following: 

Administrative - $407,709

 Business Development - $29,750

• Municipal Building - $45,300

• Police - $325,174

• Fire Department - $39,350

• Street - $473,000

• Sanitation - $140,240

In other business Tuesday evening, Halifax Town Council members are scheduled to take the following actions:

• Set approval and appropriation for the proposed budget for its June 10 meeting;

• Hear a monthly police report from Chief Kevin Lands; and

• Consider approval of a Virginia Retirement System resolution setting the employer contribution rate and member contributions by salary reduction. 

Prior to the council meeting, the business development, finance and current affairs committees will meet.