Taxpayers will see no change in tax rates this year after Halifax County Board of Supervisors set the county’s tax rates when they met Monday evening in Halifax.
Supervisors also approved the $119,318,870 county budget to include a 5% raise for full-time county employees and $14,243,414 for local schools.
Also when approving the budget for Halifax County Public Schools, supervisors also signed a resolution approving the school system’s budget by category.
The county’s real estate tax rate will remain at 50 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Supervisors had previously advertised a 2-cents increase, but after realizing an additional $250,000 in sales tax revenue and school system savings, the finance committee recommended they not raise taxes.
“We made it work. We’re proud we got through this with no tax increase,” said finance committee chair Jeff Francisco.
In other tax rates, personal property tax is $3.85 per $100 of assessed value and machinery and tools tax stands at $1.26 per $100.
Prior to approving the county budget, supervisors unanimously agreed to sign a resolution approving the Halifax County School Board budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2022 totaling $68,328,941.
The resolution also states, “given the magnitude of the county local funds contributed to the school’s budget and to provide increased accountability for the expenditures of such funds, it is appropriate to approve the overall spending plan for the Halifax County School Board on a categorical basis.”
The school board presented the budget to supervisors in seven categories with the totals being as followed, $47,785,445 for instruction, $4,380,685 for administration, attendance and health, $4,710,860 for pupil transportation, $4,308,296 for operations/maintenance, $2,850,000 for school food service, $2,530,961 for facilities and $1,762,694 for technology.
The finance committee chair called approving the school board’s budget by category a “tool to capture savings” and as a way to “reduce unplanned spending.”
He said it would cause no additional burden to the school board, as they already plan their budget by category, and no additional burden to the county.
Before voting on the matter, ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon said he had some concerns about approving the school’s budget by category saying they have a school board to decide on their budget.
“I would not like to micromanage. I think they’ve done a decent job,” he added.
ED-8 supervisor William Bryant Claiborne also said, “We shouldn’t start doing line items.”
The board then unanimously approved the motion that was made by ED-5 supervisor Dean Throckmorton and seconded by Francisco.
Supervisors also unanimously agreed to sign a resolution approving the county’s budget that included several recommendations recently made by the finance committee.
Included in the county budget is funding to cover a 5% raise for full-time employees. Supervisors had previously discussed a 4% raise, but county finance director Stephanie Jackson informed the finance committee that they were now set to receive $100,000 for compensation board employees to receive a 5% raise.
The board had previously agreed to set aside $272,406 for full-time county employees to receive a 4% raise.
The county has 130 full-time employees, with roughly 73 funded by the compensation board, according to county administrator Scott Simpson.
Jackson told the finance committee that its going to cost $68,201 to give the remaining employees not funded by the compensation board the 5% pay increase.
Also included in the budget is an additional $1,684 for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and an additional $7,741 in order to fund tourism at $120,000 for the year. Supervisors also agreed to see if they could give $15,000 of COVID relief funds to Tri-County Community Action Agency.
Prior to approving the county budget, ED-8 supervisor William Bryant Claiborne asked about an error that was made when the town of South Boston received an additional $265,302.15 in local sales taxes from the county over the past six months. He asked the county administrator were those funds, that are to be paid back to the county from the town, included in the budget.
Simpson said they are included in the current budget. But, he did note that the county had not received the funds yet.
The county administrator also clarified that the additional $250,000 in sales tax revenue in the county budget was something “totally separate” from the funds that were given to the town of South Boston. He said the state had sent an updated projection of sales tax revenue.
Also during citizen comments, William E. Coleman, who served 12 years on the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, after being elected as its first African American supervisor, served 40-plus years with Tri-County Community Action Agency and served many years with the Halifax County Community Federal Credit Union spoke on the funding for Tri-County.
Tri-County’s CEO Petrina Carter had previously spoken to the board about needing additional funding and their desire to take over a food bank.
Coleman said, “I don’t think it’s needed, and I don’t think it’s necessary,” after saying there’s other avenues for families to receive food including Halifax County Social Services, churches and other food banks.
“I for one say this board can do a better job in taking care of its core responsibilities,” he added.
Francisco took a moment to address Coleman’s concerns saying Tri-County had been funded at $64,000 in 2019. But, this year the county considered giving them $50,766.
The finance committee recommended the board look to see if they can give them $15,000 of COVID-19 relief funds, which was approved by the board.
“This kind of puts them back where they were two years ago,” said Francisco.
In other action Monday evening, the board also unanimously agreed to raise the county’s food and beverage tax from 4% to 6%, making it in line with the town of South Boston. This change increases revenue by $140,000 annually.
“If you’re dining in South Boston, you’re already paying it,” said Throckmorton, who noted this just puts the county in line with the town. While he isn’t one to support tax increases, he said he was in favor of this one because, “if you don’t want to eat out, you don’t have to pay it.”
ED-4 supervisor Ronnie Duffey made the motion to increase the tax, which was seconded by Claiborne, and supervisors unanimously approved the motion.