BOS Returns Remainder of 1% Voter-Approved 2020 Levy to Schools | Latest titles
The use of the 1% tax hike that was authorized by Henry County voters in 2020 and enforced by a formal advisory opinion issued in December by Attorney General Mark Herring was made official Tuesday by the Board of Overseers of Henry County.
During the regular 3 p.m. meeting held at the Henry County Administration Building, Board Vice Chairman Joe Bryant introduced a motion regarding the school board’s budget to “allocate 100% of sales tax revenue 1% towards construction, renovations and future improvements to school facilities and replacing $2.6 million in the budget previously allocated for school debt from general fund reserve funds. He also set a public hearing for April 26 at 6 p.m., as is required when changing the budget by more than 1%, he said. The motion passed unanimously.
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During the 2020 session, the General Assembly granted the counties of Henry, Charlotte, Gloucester, Halifax, Northampton and Patrick the power to levy an additional sales and use tax of up to 1% if they is approved by voters.
The General Assembly stipulated that the money collected from the supplementary tax “shall be used only for capital projects for new construction or major renovations of schools in the eligible locality”, according to article 58.1-605.1 of the State Code.
Henry County passed the ordinance on November 24, 2020, after voters approved the measure with 55% of the vote.
At the Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting on April 13, 2021, when County Administrator Tim Hall presented his proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, Hall said that approximately 5.2 million dollars in additional revenue would be generated by this 1% sales tax, and recommended that half of this amount ($2.6 million) be used directly to pay off existing school construction debt.
Herring’s official advisory opinion of December 21 states that the money generated by the new tax should only be used for new construction and renovations.
The official advisory notice was launched following a request from Gloucester County, and the Henry County School Board joined in that request. This was part of the school board’s legislative program: to ask the General Assembly to clarify the conditions for the use of tax money.
In his notice, Herring said the new sales and use tax enacted by the General Assembly allows localities to use the money to “finance capital projects for building or improving schools. and that “revenue from this tax will be pursued only for capital projects for new construction or major school renovations.
Herring wrote, “plain language is clear that the law applies to ‘capital projects for new construction or major renovation of schools’.”
“Other paragraphs … support the fact that this law applies to new school capital projects,” Herring said in his opinion.
Herring wrote that the referendum further supports “that sales tax revenues would be used prospectively for new construction or major renovations…and not for debt relief.”
Also during the 3 p.m. session:
Andrew Barker, a farmer from Axton, spoke on questions from the audience. He came to talk about “new revenue opportunities for the county” through solar power.
The council issued a proclamation recognizing National Library Week, April 3-9, and National Library Workers Day, April 5. said Debra Buchanan, District Supervisor of Horsepasture.
The board skipped the report on outstanding tax collection efforts as listed on the agenda because the presenter was not present.
The board approved an additional $300,000 appropriation received from the Virginia Department of Health’s Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance Program to be used for school expenses related to testing and public health communication surrounding the coronavirus.
The board approved an additional credit of $1,036,250 from the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program for work on Commonwealth Crossing Business Center Lot #2. The funds will be used to clear timber from the site and prepare grading design plans.
The board approved an additional appropriation of $357,741 received from the Virginia Tobacco Commission for site work on Commonwealth Crossing Business Center Lot #5. Funds will be used for grading and development.
Hall reported a request from Henry County Public Safety Director Matt Tatum to award a contract to EMS Management and Consultants Inc. of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for medical services billing services for emergency (EMS). The award was estimated at $42,000 per year and the board unanimously approved.
Hall spoke about an additional appropriation to replace the roof at the Henry County Recreation Center. Due to the escalating cost of materials, previous funds were not sufficient and staff are requesting an additional $50,000 from their contingency funds and a carry forward of $364,993 to continue the project. . They are also asking for $567,000 for a contract with John T Morgan Roofing in Roanoke to replace the roof. The board approved the additional funds of $414,993 from the contingency and carry forward funds and the additional $567,000 for the contract.
Hall spoke about reviewing an ordinance creating a tourist area in Henry County to help recruit tourism-related businesses. This zone would allow businesses to use state and local tax incentives, which are in place to “stimulate business attraction and growth and increase employment opportunities in the county,” he said. Businesses would be required to make new capital investments of at least $500,000 and create five new full-time jobs in order to use the tax incentives. Council unanimously approved a motion to hold a public hearing on this matter at the April 26 meeting at 6 p.m.
Under comments from the Board of Directors, Buchanan announced a Horsepasture District Community Meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12 at the Horsepasture Ruritan Building.
Hall proposed a change to the budget calendar to move the schedule two weeks to “make it more based on fact than guesswork” and the motion to approve the schedule change was approved unanimously.
Jim Adams moved that the board give Henry County and Public Service Authority employees a day off on April 15, Good Friday. The motion passed unanimously.
Hall announced a list of dates to remember:
- March 29, American Electric Power Open Briefing 5-7:30 p.m. at the Old Bassett Train Depot
- The Virginia Association of County Supervisors Forum meeting that was scheduled for April 29 has been canceled
- April 23, spring day for Household Hazardous Waste Day from 9 a.m. to noon at the Henry County Service Center
- May 12, Employee Recognition Banquet at 6 p.m. at New College Institute
- June 11, Public Safety Day event at Jack Dalton Park, time TBD
The board then met behind closed doors to discuss appointments to the Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services, outstanding legal matters, real estate acquisition and disposal, and unadvertised industries.