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Public hearings, allocating funds top full agenda

Budget issues and three public hearings promise to dominate tonight’s Halifax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting that will get underway at 6:30 p.m. in the second floor meeting room of the Mary Bethune office complex.

Supervisors are expected to amend the Business Professional and Occupational License fees — lowering the rate by half — before adopting the $87 million county budget for 2013-14.

However, before they vote to adopt the budget, supervisors must decide how they plan to allocate $593,000 in additional revenues that had not been available when the original draft budget was recommended.

The half million dollar plus surplus resulted from the county having $343,000 more than expected from reductions in regional jail costs, $70,000 from a reduction in health insurance costs and $180,000 from an increase in anticipated sales tax revenue.

Finance committee members Doug Bowman, William Fitzgerald and J. T. Davis met on April 24 to recommend how the extra money should be spent, but the vote was split 2-1 with Fitzgerald opposing the recommendation proposed by the committee because of a suggested allocation to the school system.

Bowman and Davis are recommending the full board give the school system an extra $150,000 out of the $593,000 recently restored to the proposed budget, but Fitzgerald says the county has already decided on how much the school system should receive in the coming year.

If supervisors act on the finance committee’s recommendation tonight, the county will contribute $13,417,529 in the upcoming budget year that goes into effect July 1.

The finance committee also is recommending another huge chunk - $152,420 – be set aside for the relocation of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office which will have to be moved before the old jail can be demolished as part of the county courthouse renovation project.

In addition, the finance committee suggests using $50,000 to make a down payment on a front load refuse truck for the county public works department, adding $50,000 to the county Industrial Development Authority budget that was originally cut $100,000 and recommends setting aside another $50,000 for architectural and engineering designs to run water and sewer lines to the fairground property preparing for future development.

Other finance committee suggestions on how to spend the $593,000 include the following:

$26,000 to the county’s volunteer fire departments to buy a second set of personal protective equipment;

 $5,000 for the YMCA;

 $1,950 for Roanoke River Rails to Trails;

 $3,200 for Chamber of Commerce dues;

 $3,930 for Roanoke River Basin Association dues;

 $7,000 for the South Boston/Halifax County Museum; and

 $10,000 for the Longwood Small Business Development Center.

“The remaining challenge before the board is that there are not enough funds available to necessarily accommodate all of the good uses that have been presented,” said County Administrator Jim Halasz. “Nonetheless you will be able to at least satisfy some of the additional need and opportunities present to restore funding or provide additional funding; and at the end of the budget process that is better than facing another round of cuts.”

In addition to adopting a budget tonight, supervisors are scheduled to hold three public hearings.

The first hearing is to amend county code so that no business license can be issued until evidence has been provided the person requesting the license has paid all delinquent real estate taxes.

“Each additional tool at our disposal will incrementally permit us to collect more taxes owed and create greater justice and equity for the vast majority of county taxpayers who pay their taxes on time,” Halasz said referring to the county code amendment to be addressed during the first public hearing.

The second hearing is on a request from George A. Anderson to withdraw a parcel consisting of 30.42 acres from the Rodgers Chapel Road agricultural forestal district in order to subdivide the property.

The third hearing is on a request from the L. E. Coleman African-American Museum for exemption from payment of county real estate taxes.

In other county business tonight, supervisors are expected to take the following actions:

 Receive a monthly status report from Kenneth Martin of the Virginia Department of Transportation;

 Discuss and consider setting interviews for firms responding to the courthouse architect and engineering request for proposals and set a special meeting to approve contract negotiations;

 Consider a resolution establishing county health care plan options and premium rates for the county and employees in the upcoming fiscal year;

 Consider a request from VIR to adjust its 2013 public event schedule to include two additional spectator events including testing for the Camping World Truck Series on Aug. 6-7 and the  K & N Pro Series East inaugural race on Aug. 23-24;

 Make appointments to fill vacancies on the Southside Regional Group Home Commission, Transportation Safety Commission, Improvement Council, Lake Country Area Agency on Aging, Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, Community Colleges Advisory Board, Halifax/South Boston Library Board, Department of Social Services and Workforce Investment Board.

At the conclusion of tonight’s meeting, supervisors are expected to go behind closed doors in an executive session to discuss specific personnel matters, the acquisition or disposition of property; the protection of the privacy of individuals in personal matters not related to public business; a prospective business or industry or expansion of an existing business; and to consult with legal council and discuss award of a public contract involving public funds.