- Last Updated on 10:43 AM 01/06/10
- BY Sonny Riddle
“In today’s market real estate values are going down; how can assessments go up?”
Jack Dunavant posed that question to Harold Throckmorton of the Halifax County Assessor’s Office during Wednesday’s meeting of Halifax’s Current Affairs Committee that Dunavant chairs.
“The market is not down as far as you think it is,” Throckmorton replied. “We’ve got 451 sales that were qualified sales that I used, and the majority of them were above what they were assessed at the last assessment. If they’re up, then we have to go up to get close to 100 percent of market value.”
Throckmorton said at the beginning of January 2009 they were at 95 percent. “And when we finished this one, we were at 98.9 percent, and that’s where the state says we’re supposed to be, as close to 100 percent as possible,” he explained. “There’s not a lot of them selling below what they were assessed at the last assessment.”
In answer to a question from Councilman Dick Moore, Throckmorton explained that in 2008, assessments in Treybrook were down 10 percent. In the current assessment, the assessed value went up about 3 to 4 percent. “They’re still not at what would normally be 100 percent of market value,” Throckmorton said. “They’re still roughly 6 to 7 percent below what market value would have been three years ago.”
Moore said it’s hard to explain to landowners that the assessed values of properties went down 10 percent then came back about 4 percent, but they’re still down about 6 percent. “Really if we had just forgotten about what happened in 2008 and said the increase was 4 percent, we’d been better off,” Moore said.
Mayor Leon Plaster said the town is required by law to net out zero, in spite of what the assessment is. “It’s our responsibility here if it goes up 10 percent, we have to reduce taxes 10 percent,” Plaster said. “We have to get it as close to zero as possible.”
“The average person with a house and a lot, if the tax rate is adjusted like it should be, will see very little, if any, increase,” Throckmorton said. “I’m talking about from $5 or $10 down to $4 or $5 up.”
“The problem is the system needs reworking,” said Dunavant. “The system says you have to base the value on sales for the past two years, so this deflation we have doesn’t kick in for another two years. It’s simple, it’s built into the system, and the system is not exactly fair.”
In other business, the Current Affairs Committee reviewed an application from Richard Whitlow for a special use permit to operate a home occupation business in his home on Brook Run. A public hearing on the request will be on the agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting.
Espy told committee members there have been two quarterly readings of water in the Banister River as part of the Banister River Monitoring Project. Espy also reported to the committee on a meeting between himself, Dunavant and Halifax Police Chief D.E. Martin regarding placement of the stop bar and the analysis of the intersection at North Main Street and Mountain Road.
The town manager also discussed deer management issues within the town limits. He said some wildlife biologists would attend the town planning commission meeting on Dec. 16 to go over other effective deer management practices.
Mayor Plaster said the issue of using bow and arrow should be revisited to help eliminate the deer problem in the town limits. Espy also said it may be possible to allow the use of shotguns, with certain restrictions, on certain properties to help control the deer problem in the town. Dunavant also suggested allowing the use of crossbows. Espy said he would have more detailed information at the planning commission meeting on Dec. 16.
The committee also addressed the possible use of golf carts on streets in the town. Espy said the planning commission has been reviewing the matter, and the commissioners want to make it a priority at the January meeting.
Immediately following the Current Affairs Committee, Chairman Bill Confroy convened the meeting of the Business Development Committee. He reported on the Halifax Village Business Association’s open house on Sunday, Nov. 29. Those who attended the event said it went well and seemed to be very successful.
They also discussed the “Christmas in the Village” event scheduled for tonight (Friday) beginning at 6:30 p.m. Espy said there would be live and taped music, refreshments would be available, and the children’s parade would begin at 6:30. Santa Claus will light the town Christmas tree following the parade, and he then will visit with the children in attendance.
In other town matters, Espy said they are preparing to move the town’s website to its new location soon, and it currently is “a work in progress.”
The Business Development Committee went into a brief closed session to discuss real estate development prospects. The committee took no action when it reconvened in open session.
Chairman Dick Moore convened the Finance Committee following adjournment of the Business Development Committee.
Members of the Finance Committee had not had time to review the November finance report, so Espy said he would put it on the agenda for Tuesday’s town council meeting.
Espy said there has been an interest in locking in the rate with SunTrust for financing of the former grocery property. The town has had only interim financing and was paying interest only and would begin paying both principle and interest.
Espy said the second application has been filed for the 2010 VDOT Enhancement Grant for the Banister Gateway Project. He also reported on attending the 2009 project workshop and said he is finishing up the paperwork. Once that is in, Espy said they can get together the management team and put together a request for proposal for an engineering firm.
The town manager also updated committee members on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant application. He said the application has been submitted and if approved, the HVAC and electrical systems in Halifax Town Hall would be upgraded.
No further business appearing, Moore adjourned the Finance Committee.
Halifax Town Council meets Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Halifax Town Hall.