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Hillsville land use taxation can begin in 2014

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Special use land assessments can apply to Hillsville properties in January 2014, after the town council held a public hearing and approved an ordinance earlier this month.
The ordinance set out the requirements for the long-sought special assessments for land owners to match those offered in Carroll County.
Localities in Virginia are allowed to assess real estate based on the “use value” instead of fair market value.
Use value is the productive potential of the land, according to the state's definition. For example, a field that grows $200 worth of corn has a “use value” of $200.
The proposed ordinance detailed a minimum of five acres in agriculture and horticulture and a minimum of 20 acres in forest in order to enroll in the new program.
Property owners must apply by Nov. 1, the ordinance said. If the land is ever removed from the land use assessments, then the owner must pay roll-back taxes.
Town officials shared the proposal with Carroll’s commissioner of the revenue and assessor to make sure it agreed with the county’s ordinance, explained Judy Bolt, the interim town manager. The county officials sent back a suggestion or two.
“Carroll County will be the ones responsible for the applications and the taking of the fees,” she said.
After the ordinance is approved, if properties fall within the Hillsville limits, those properties could get land use assessments in town, too, under the program, Bolt said.
Though no citizen spoke at the Jan. 14 public hearing, Bolt reported that she received a letter of support from Mary McGrady and a phone call of support from Robbie Gardner.
(McGrady has requested the town provide land use assessments several times.)
Later in the meeting, Vice Mayor Ed Terry made a motion to approve the land use ordinance, seconded by Council Member Greg Yonce.
The town council unanimously supported the land use idea.
In other actions from the Jan. 14 meeting, town council:
• held a public hearing on limiting the commercial garbage pickup to two Dumpsters each time.
This arose because one unspecified business puts out four or Dive dumpsters at each of the three weekly commercial pickups, Bolt said. “Those extra Dumpsters are costing the town about $14,000 a year.”
Businesses will have the option of paying for extra pickups, if they want them, she added.
There were no speakers at this hearing.
Council later approved the proposal unanimously after a motion by Council Member David Young.
• held a public hearing on the sale of the former Hillsville Rescue Squad station on Main Street by auction.
After no one spoke, Council Member Billy Walls made a motion to have the auction, which was approved unanimously.
• held a public hearing on a proposal to curb noisy animals and fowl, and then tabled any further action.
Town Attorney Andrea Tolbert advised the council members to delay any action on this the town gets the devices to be used by police to measure decibel levels and trains officers to use them.
• approved Police Chief Greg Bolen’s recommendation to hire Michael Henley as the police department’s office manager for a start date of Feb. 1.
• praised the police department for conducting 969 business checks.
Bolen gave the credit to the department’s police officers.
“Everybody out here I’ve talked to, they sure do appreciate the way you’re conducting business and checking their businesses, over on the interstate, especially,” Walls said.