Halifax County Board of Supervisors authorized a level tax rate for the fiscal year 2020-2021, but opted out of approving the budget.

County administrator Scott Simpson explained it was necessary to begin the tax process so they could be sent on time, but said, “We are not discussing the budget.”

With that, in one quick motion, the board unanimously agreed to set the taxes at the current rates of 50 cents per $100 value for real estate; $3.85 per $100 value for personal property and $1.26 per $100 value for machinery and tools.

The board has to approve the budget on or before July 1.

In other action, they unanimously agreed to approve an amendment to the Alton Post Office Conditional Use Permit after Alton Post Office Solar sought to amend their approved solar application to include five additional parcels to their project.

The change increases their acreage from 803 to 1,109.34, and would not change the 80 megawatts that was previously approved.

In making his request last month, Roger Bowers with Alton Post Office Solar said, “We were unable to build the facility on the acreage that’s already approved to the existing permitted capacity. The additional area will allow us to have room for panels to generate enough electricity to efficiently use that approved infrastructure and be able to achieve the full investment on this project as originally contemplated.”

After ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon offered concerns, the board unanimously agreed to table the matter last month.

But Monday, Brandon said after reviewing the changes and having an opportunity to ask questions, he felt “much more better about the project.

“I feel like we need to move forward,” he added.

ED-4 supervisor Ronnie Duffey asked would the additional acreage generate more tax revenue.

“In a sense, yes,” said Simpson, but he noted if they did not approve the change then the solar facility may not be able to move forward eliminating all possibilities for tax revenue from the solar facility.

With that Brandon made a motion to approve the amendment with the 27 conditions set by the planning commission, which was seconded by ED-1 supervisor Ricky Short, and the board unanimously approved the motion.

The board also unanimously accepted a voluntary waiver and payment agreement with Alton Post Office Solar, LLC that Simpson said allows them to waive a portion of their tax exemption and enter into a payment agreement with the county.

With this agreement, the company is expected to pay the county $1,122,971.04 over 35 years, and the total expected tax revenue is $2,048,381.61.

During citizen comments, Brenda Waller, MD offered concerns about what she perceives as a push back from the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority to accept a request to put a life science center in the Daystrom building and the county not offering equal opportunity to minority-owned businesses.

While she had been in previous contact with IDA executive director Brain Brown, she said they were requesting tax documents and other documents that she felt were “invading intellectual property.”

Instead of being accepting of the possible tenant to the Daystrom building, she felt that Brown and the IDA had only been “providing opposition.”

Supervisors also completed the following action:

• Reviewed a monthly report submitted by Jay Craddock with Virginia Department of Transportation and authorized Simpson to schedule a public hearing for the six-year roadway plan when necessary;

• Unanimously agreed to move forward with the process for the county to abandon a portion of Willie Moore Trail at a request from the two landowners with the stipulation that the landowners pay for all advertising; and

• Unanimously agreed to sign a resolution proclaiming April 18 as community clean up day with Simpson saying if every citizen just cleaned up in front of their home, it would make a difference.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com