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Vehicle, animal fees will increase

Rates and fees for vehicles, businesses and animals will increase July 1 after Halifax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Monday night to approve the fee schedule as recommended by county staff.

By adopting a set of fee increases on items ranging from motorcycle and vehicle registrations to dog tags to business licenses, supervisors expect to generate $637,000 in fresh revenue which is included in the $88.7 million county budget proposed for 2013-14.

Adopting the fee increases was the “alternative to going up on tax rates, according to Finance Committee Chairman Doug Bowman who spoke before a vote was taken on hiking the rates and fees.

“Many of these fees have not been looked at for adjustment in 20 years,” Bowman said.

He praised the staff for “doing a thorough job” of reviewing the fees and recommending the proposed increases.

“The finance committee, while not happy with it, we are OK with the fee schedule as presented,” he said making the motion to adopt the fee increases.

On Monday night, supervisors took no action on the proposed $88.7 million county budget that must be adopted before July 1. 

The balanced budget draft includes $510,886 less than the current year’s budget.

Health insurance costs are anticipated to increase by $170,000 and are included in the staff recommended budget, but no across the board pay hikes are included for county employees in the coming year.

In other business Monday night, board members took the following actions:

Unanimously agreed to authorize the county administrator to enter into an agreement for the county to use the middle school as an emergency shelter instead of the Mary Bethune gym since the middle school has an ample food preparation area, sufficient space and is centrally located;

 Unanimously agreed to withhold the issuance of building, zoning and land use permits for individuals who owe delinquent real estate taxes until the taxes are paid in full and set a public hearing for May 6 on an amendment to county code requiring full payment of delinquent real estate taxes prior to issuance of a building license;

 Unanimously agreed to authorize the county administrator to submit necessary applications and documents to permit the county to participate in the Rural Development Community Facilities Loan Program to finance debt service for renovation of the Halifax County Courthouse;

Bowman said courthouse architectural and engineering requests for proposals went out this week.

 Unanimously approved setting a public hearing for May 6 to consider a request from the L. E. Coleman African-American Museum for tax exemption;

 Unanimously agreed to set public hearings to be held by the county planning commission April 23 and the board of supervisors on May 6 on a request from George A. Anderson to withdraw one parcel consisting of 30.42 acres from the Rodgers Chapel Road agricultural forestal district in order to subdivide;

 Heard from Fay Satterfield about the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum “Wall that Heals” coming to Halifax County High School Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium on April 9;

The wall will be assembled on April 10 and will be open to the public April 11-14.

 Listened to comments from Ida Terry concerning cuts being made to school employees but not to central office staff;

“As a citizen, I am proud that you decided not to do the tax increase, but I didn’t have a problem with the 2-cents, but I did have a problem with you giving it to the school board,” Terry told supervisors.

“When you look at it from the top down, there were no cuts,” she said, adding, “Everybody needs to give a little bit. You’ve got to tighten your belt.”

Terry said her problem is with no one in administration getting cut.

“When you’re talking about someone making $150,000 compared to someone with a master’s degree making $20,000, look at the disparity,” she said.

Everytime a cut is made, Terry said the first ones impacted are those who work in the cafeterias or those who clean the floors.

“They don’t make but $7,000 or $8,000 a year, and that’s gross, not net. That’s less than poverty. So sometimes we may need to look at the top and work our way down,” she continued. “The last people you should upset is the cleaning people. Sometime the people at the top gotta pay…not just the people at the bottom.”

See the breakdown of new fees in the print edition.