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Site prepped for arrival of modules for energy-efficient homes in SoBo

Foam can be cool, especially when used in construction of energy-efficient ECOmod housing planned for the Poplar Creek subdivision.

Site preparation and utilities construction are ongoing at the site where five energy-efficient homes are planned, the first two of them using ECOmod technology.

Modules are scheduled for delivery to the construction site in early March, with installation of the two ECOmod houses complete by March 15, according to South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel.

Concrete footings are due to be poured this week before the individual units are delivered and put together on-site, he explained to town council during Monday’s work session.

Daniel explained the technology involved in construction of the modules, created with the use of SIPS (structure insulated panels), to council in a PowerPoint presentation during Monday’s meeting.

Although not aesthetically pleasing in the traditional sense, the beauty of ECOmod housing comes in its efficient use of energy, he emphasized.

The project has been in the works since 2010, when the town accepted donation of the property from Jenny Wilkins.

The town has been working with the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, University of Virginia, Cardinal Homes of Wylliesburg, SIPS of Virginia in Blairs and Southside Outreach Group to design and build energy-efficient and affordable housing in the subdivision.

A public hearing is planned for the March 11 council meeting on the proposed conveyance of the two lots containing the ECOmod housing to Southside Outreach Group.


Delinquent real estate tax discussion continues

Council continued to mull methods of collecting delinquent real estate taxes at Monday’s meeting, ultimately agreeing with Daniel to mail a second notice to 350 first-time delinquent taxpayers.

Town Finance Officer Erle Scott told council he would research the issue following the Feb. 11 meeting, where council discussed a change in policy regarding delinquent real estate tax reports, specifically policy regarding second notices.

Several councilmen have suggested the town send out a second notice of overdue real estate taxes and asked Scott to calculate the number of first time delinquent taxpayers versus possible habitual delinquents.

At present, the first notice of overdue real estate taxes is after one year, according to Scott, whose research reflected a total of 350 delinquent bills in 2012 that were not delinquent in 2011, representing 38 percent of the 919 bills for tax year 2012.

The total amount of the 350 bills amounted to $38,469.57, with that dollar amount representing 48 percent of the total dollar amount of $80,291.38 in delinquent real estate taxes for tax year 2012.

Scott calculated postage to mail 350 second notices would be approximately $164.50, with additional costs in the time and materials to create the notices.

Scott admitted Monday he was “a little surprised” at the number of delinquent bills in 2012 (350) that weren’t delinquent the previous year.

Several councilmen voiced their support of mailing 350 second notices.

Divide 350 into $38,469.57 and you come up with slightly more than $100 per delinquent bill, Councilman Bob Hughes noted.

He added that just a few payments as a response to a second notice could cover the costs associated with mailing them.

“There are several large dollar delinquencies in this report, some over $1,000, and some of them may have already been paid,” Scott said in responding to Hughes.

Councilman Coleman Speece was looking at the big picture when comparing the total number of first time delinquents with the pool of possible habitual delinquents.

“It’s not about being fair, it’s about paying taxes,” said Speece.

“Personally, it’s an economic issue.”


Financial report

Year-to-date revenues (as of Jan. 31) stood at $5,752,486 while expenditures stood at $5,944,813 out of a budget of $11,497,323, according to Scott’s monthly finance report.

The general fund has a year-to-date balance of $2,703,271.

Scott explained expenditures were ahead of revenues due to several large items being paid the past month that wouldn’t be paid again the current fiscal year. 

Selected general fund revenues (year-to-date) included: categorical aid, a balance of $1,120,872, or 41 percent of a budget of $2,704,673; current real estate tax, $821,294 out of a budget of $870,000, 94 percent; current personal property tax, $475,910 out of a budget of $435,000, 109 percent; personal property tax relief, $295,432 out of a budget of $295,432, 100 percent.

Local tax collections stood at $244,929, or 64 percent of a budget of $385,000; occupancy tax at $91,899 or 74 percent of a budget of $125,000; meals tax at $668,594 out of a budget of $1,050,000 or 64 percent; and business license tax collections at $31,791 out of a budget of $490,000 or 6 percent.

Categorical aid funds are mainly VDOT lane mileage payments, with the town anticipating a quarterly payment of approximately $463,000 in March, Scott told council.

Occupancy tax collections are ahead of schedule because of the number of construction workers in town for the Maple Avenue treatment plant expansion and the South Boston Energy Project.

A delinquent tax report prepared by Scott reflected a total of $106,761.67 collected as of Feb. 19, out of a budget of $130,350, including $26,477.13 in personal property tax relief; $17,214.28 in delinquent personal property; and $38,599.98 in delinquent real estate tax collections.

Also included in the $106,761.67 amount are $11,077.57 in penalties and $13,392.71 in interest, according to Scott’s report.

Scott also updated council on the Spring Virginia Resources Authority bond issue for the Washington-Coleman Community Center Project.

The town has completed its application and is providing financial information and other information the Virginia Resources Authority needs to approve the town’s loan.

“There’s no reason to believe we won’t be approved,” said Scott.  “It’s a pool-bonding situation, where all localities go and pool their financial strengths to get a bond rating and a low interest rate.

“It should close sometime around May 22,” Scott told council.


Budget meeting schedule

Council set the date of May 13 for a public hearing on the proposed 2013-14 budget on its first reading, followed by a second reading on June 10.

Both May 13 and June 10 are regularly schedule council meetings for those months.

Adoption of the 2013-14 budget is scheduled for the June 24 meeting of town council.

A preliminary draft of the proposed 2013-14 budget should be unveiled for council’s consideration at its March 25 work session, according to Daniel.