Halifax Town Council approved its FY2019-20 budget when they met Wednesday evening, a budget that includes raises for town employees based on their evaluations and no tax increases.

Council met in a joint special meeting with the Halifax Planning Commission.

Earlier this month, council held a public hearing on the budget in which no one spoke, and Wednesday it moved forward unanimously approving the budget acting on a motion by council member Janice Powell and a second by council member Gail Bosiger.

The real estate tax rate remains at .175 per $100, personal property tax rate will stay at $1.68 per $100, the machinery and tools tax will continue to be 50 cents per $100, the lodging tax rate remains at 3.5%, and the meals sales tax will stay at 4%.

The budget also is growing for each department, mostly due to grants, with the largest increase in the budgeted monies for street projects. That line item is increasing by $151,790 or 206.67 percent.

This reflects the $150,237 VDOT Map 21 grant funds for the Halifax downtown streetscape extension project. It also includes funds for the town cemetery, street capital outlay-sidewalk repair program and VDOT storm water improvements as well as Clock Plaza landscaping and Banister Gateways and upkeep.

The administrative department is increasing by $36,325 or 9.66 percent, which also includes grant monies for the streetscape project as well as funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts, public notices, telecommunications infrastructure, HART Bus, accounting and billing system, local enterprise zone and more.

Business development accounts for 2% of the general fund budget, with an increase of $7,000 due to a Commercial District Affiliate Grant.

The events coordinator position has been eliminated, and several activities have been funded thanks to Halifax Village Association requests.

This also includes funding for the Halifax Farmers Market, the VTC and DHCD for Economic Development and Tourism Strategic Plan and the Virginia Main Street four-point approach over the next two years.

Funding for the sanitation department is increasing by $2,670 or 1.85% for Sanitation Technician I and II for maintenance of streetscape, gateway and landscaping and for waster/recycling duties as well as replacement of a trash truck.

Municipal building expenses have increased by 31.23% including funding for exterior and interior repair and improvements, energy conservation and ADA compliance, restrooms and front entry additional roof repairs needed at the Halifax Farmers Market as well as utility expenses.

The police funds have increased by 3.54% reflecting five full-time positions, including the police chief and an anticipated new hire, vehicle expenses and their additional expenses.

Funding for the Halifax Volunteer Fire Department has increased by $350 or 0.64%, which town manager Carl Espy said is due to insurance premium increases.

In other action Wednesday, council members agreed to cancel their July meeting with their next meeting being held on Aug. 13.

Mayor Dexter Gilliam also took a moment to speak about a meeting that was held Wednesday during the day with various local stakeholders and Sandra Tanner, partnership marketing development specialist with Virginia Tourism Corporation.

This meeting followed an open house held in Halifax where over 70 individuals visited Halifax Town Hall to respond to questions about what direction they’d like to see Halifax take on the “idea wall” and to chat about ideas for improving the economic vitality of the town.

A paper survey and online survey also were taken.

Wednesday’s daylong meeting with Tanner was a change for sparkplugs to discuss the town’s current and potential assets and gaps that need to be filled.

Tanner will now consolidate that information and bring it back to the group who met Wednesday before presenting the information to council members.

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

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com