Grayson talks twice-a-year taxing plan

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Citizens could have an opportunity to express their concerns about twice-a-year tax collection during the Grayson Board of Supervisors regular meeting June 11.

Supervisors tentatively set that date to hold a public hearing regarding the ordinance change that would switch tax collections from once a year — due Dec. 5 — to twice a year — with due dates of Oct. 5 and April 5.

If approved, citizens would pay the same amount of taxes they do now, but that amount would be split into two equal payments.

The twice-a-year collection would only apply to real estate taxes. Personal property taxes would be collected once a year, but on April 5 instead of Dec. 5.

Supervisors were presented a draft ordinance at their regular meeting May 14, which stated that it is “in the best interest of the public welfare to amend the due dates for payment of real property taxes to establish semi-annual tax collection dates and to amend the due date for collection of personal property tax to coordinate with the date for collection of real property tax.”

If approved, the ordinance would be effective July 1 and would impose a penalty if a citizen did not pay the first half of their tax bill in October.

In other words, citizens could not wait until the April 5, 2010 deadline to pay the entire amount. They could, however, pay the entire amount in October if they wished.

The penalty for late payment would be the same as it is now — five percent of the tax past due on the property, nor exceeding the total amount of taxes due.

Supervisors asked acting County Administrator Mitch Smith to have the county attorney look the ordinance over before the board advertised for a public hearing.

The board said if the attorney recommended changes, those were to be brought back to the June meeting. The public hearing will be held June 11.

Supervisors' Chairman Mike Maynard expressed again that the change would not result in an increase in the amount of taxes collected, as many citizens have erroneously believed, but instead would split the amount into two payments.

County Decals

Supervisors also received a draft ordinance regarding the elimination of county decals.

The changes throughout the ordinance are quite substantial, but they essentially remove language that talks about county decals.

The fee would still be assessed on all vehicles in the county, and supervisors have proposed to increase it from $20 a year to $25 for cars and trucks.

Motorcycle fees would increase from $10 to $15 and those exempt — such as volunteer firefighters and rescue squad members — would be granted a refund, as always.

Supervisors were asked to look over the ordinance before the June meeting, and be ready to decide whether to move forward.

Project Updates

Supervisors also provided updates on various projects they are working on throughout the year.

Vice Chairman Larry Bartlett updated the board on his two projects — fairgrounds and wastewater in Fairview.

Bartlett said numerous meetings have been held with the Fairgrounds Committee as members continue the process of finding a location and sponsors.

Local businesses and individuals are being solicited to sponsor the construction of various buildings and activities.

Bartlett added that the committee is also determining the structure of the board overseeing the fairgrounds.

On his other project, Bartlett said Phase I of the wastewater project has been completed and reviewed by the community. This phase included identifying how the wastewater lines would lay and be constructed.

Supervisor Doug Carrico updated the board on his two projects — moving public works to its own location and the proposed Day Report Center.

Carrico said he needed the board to approve $800 to $1,200 for a survey on a prospective spot in the county's industrial park to relocate public works.

Once the survey is done, an appraisal could be completed and the county could move forward with negotiations to purchase the land.

Hopes are that savings from no longer paying the county's monthly rental fee for public works will cover the cost of constructing a new building down the road.

Carrico's other project — the Day Report Center — also appears to be making progress.

He is currently working on setting up a meeting with the commonwealth's attorney, sheriff, judges and select board members to get everyone on the same page regarding the program that would allow non-violent felons to perform work in the county.

The goals are to bring in revenue for Grayson through fees prisoners must pay to participate, cut costs of sending prisoners to the regional jail and save money by having some work around the county done for free.

There were some initial worries about the legality of the program, as Grayson is currently in a contract to send prisoners to the New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin.

Giles County, the first to institute a Day Report Center, notified Carrico that attorneys have determined there is nothing preventing Grayson from moving forward.

Giles is saving around $12,000 a month in jail costs with the program.

Carrico pointed out that Grayson's payment to the regional jail for the month of May was nearly $99,000.

Next year, the county will pay more than $750,000 to the regional jail.

“It's a pretty good service to the people,” Carrico said of the program.

Maynard also updated his projects, one of which is the comprehensive plan update.

He said not much work had gone into it yet, but once budget meetings concluded in June, he and Supervisor Brenda Sutherland would begin working more on the updates.

Maynard added that an application is being put together to seek $12 million for the regional broadband project.