Proposed bill would tax Hillsville

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — A proposal to repeal the Business, Professional and Occupational License tax for localities in House Bill 2205 was enough to make Hillsville officials nervous.

The bill submitted by Del. Jeffrey Frederick (R-Woodbridge) was tabled in the House Finance Committee, but that doesn't preclude it from being brought back up on the floor of the General Assembly, said Town Manager Larry South in a discussion at the Jan. 26 Hillsville Town Council meeting.

Towns across Virginia have come to rely on the business license tax, and Hillsville is no exception, he explained.

South brought a resolution opposing the bill to the town council members. Language cited in the resolution put the revenue generated from the business license taxes at approximately $154,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008.

Should the bill be approved by the General Assembly, Hillsville would have to raise real estate taxes by eight cents, South said, which would have a "huge effect" on the town.

He understands that the business license tax is not a well-liked initiative.

"As a business person that has to buy one of those, I know they're not one of the most popular items," South said.

It's an important source of revenue that towns wouldn't want to do without — or without some kind of revenue to replace what would be lost, he continued. "Without the state giving us some alternate source of income, taking it away would be a huge blow."

That's one way that Hillsville survives, agreed Mayor Bill Tate.

"I'm not a fan of putting the burden on the property tax," South said.

Council Member Orba Alderman made a motion to oppose to the bill.

It was approved unanimously after a second by Council Member Ed Terry.