B-POL tax implementation put on hold in Charles City; board clarifies information on landfill expansion
The implementation of a Business-Professional Operation License (B-POL) tax in Charles City has been given a hiatus for an unknown period of time.
Charles City’s Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to the measure as part of group’s regularly scheduled meeting held Tuesday night.
During the October meeting, District 2 and Board Chairman Bill Coada requested information about the possible institution of the B-POL tax. The representative cited a desire to garner additional revenue for the county.
County Administrator Michelle Johnson and staff began research on the issue. With information in hand, a proposal was presented by Assistant County Administrator Rhonda Russell at the Tuesday night meeting. Russell commented that approximately 249 business permits were issued this year for the county. Using a comparison chart, she projected that revenue from an imposed business license could generation approximately $207,890 if implemented at the beginning of the FY2022-23 fiscal year.
But what those numbers didn’t tell were the underlining costs that would take chunks out of that revenue. The implementation of a B-POL tax would require the hiring of one full-time position for the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office. That additional employment would cost roughly $40-45,000 from a salary base, with approximately another $15,000-$20,000 in benefits. Factor in the law that requires the removal of the Merchant’s Capital Revenue tax if a B-POL is in place, that would result in another $34,000 in revenue depleted. More unknown costs including that the projected number is based on the average growth from neighboring Surry County, New Kent County, and Prince George County, county leaders had difficulty in committing to the change.
While Russell recommended the delayed start date, supervisors commented about the switch, including Coada who had been adamant in implementing a B-POL tax.
“I really thought a B-POL tax would generate more in taxes if we didn’t have exclusions,” he commented. “If the power plants come into the county, they would not be exempted. However, I was surprised to see Waste Management would be exempt.
“The amount of trouble to implement a B-POL tax would not be favorable,” Coada continued. “I’m surprised that after nine year I would have changed my mind on this. I’m going to have to change my position on a B-POL tax for this year.”
Johnson echoed Coada’s additional comment that the county needs to grow before engaging into adding the revenue garnering tax.
“Until we have growth, this won’t be feasible,” the county administrator said. “It will be essentially hiring a full-time employee. It’s not going to be feasible until we have large industry in our county to capitalize on.”
District 1 representative Gilbert Smith factored in the unknowns of having a tax without solid financial figures.
“If you create this and it doesn’t create enough money to cover the [full-time employee] position, then you go into a deficit,” Smith said.
Supervisors agreed to put the notion of adding the tax on hold for future consideration. No timetable has been set for the subject to be revisited.
In another matter addressed by county leaders, information about the expansion of the county’s landfill has been deciphered.
After many residents living near the Waste Management property received information about the issue, grumblings began amongst community members. Coada reached out and received an email from Waste Management Brian McClung on the issue.
“All of our phases for expansion were approved in the late 1980s by state and local agencies,” said McClung in an email read by Coada. “We identified wetlands back then and they were avoided.
“Some wetlands have formed since then and because of this, we have began mitigating and providing credits,” the email added.
McClung’s letter went on to clarify that the landfill was not actually expanding beyond the original footprint. The cells acknowledged from the agreement were the same ones approved in the 1980s. The company started on the east portion of the landfill and transitioning to the western side. In order to do that, Waste Management is purchasing wetland credits to offset areas.
“It’s a progression, not an expansion,” Coada said. “The landfill still has 28 years left at its current rate.”
Smith chimed in, saying that misinformation provided by some organizations has led to confusion within the county.
“I ask that these organizations explain the whole situation and not put just pieces together,” the District 1 leader commented. “They don’t tell the whole story. They get the citizens upset and they leave.
“Waste Management contributes $3 million a year to the county,” Smith continued. “If they weren’t here, that would put 33 cents more on each tax bill.
“Something I want the citizens to think about is where would our trash go if they weren’t here?” he added, pointing to the service that is free to the county. “Can you imagine what would happen if we didn’t have the landfill? We’d have to take our trash elsewhere and pay for it.”
District 3 representative Lewis Black III said that while he understands the current state of the county, he hopes that more businesses will be able to come in.
“We have it (the landfill) ow and we have to think more of what could be better for the county,” Black said. “I want to bring in more businesses that help the county and also the environment.”
“The times have changed, but we have to think what we can get in here to replace the $3 million in revenue when it shuts down,” chimed in Smith. “I understand we have to focus on the environment, but I can imagine what our bills may look like if that wasn’t here.”
Coada concluded by referencing the financial impact of the landfill when it came into Charles City.
“In the late 1970s, Charles City County was the second highest when it came to taxes among counties in Virginia,” he said. “When the landfill came, the taxes were reduced into the 60-cent range.
“The new landfill allowed us to build new schools and provided free trash services to all our citizens,” Coada added. “It was real advantageous for our county. I’m hoping that is the same thing if the power plants come in.”
In other matters addressed by the board of supervisors:
–Purchased the Parrish Hill School at a cost of $25,000.
–Agreed to lease land from Charles Tench Jr. at a price of $4,800 annually. The land will serve as the new home of a tower that will be relocated from District 1 to District 3 to help provide Internet access via wireless transmission.
–Agreed to honor the Confederate Monument referendum as voted on the citizens. During the vote on the advisory referendum as part of the November general election, the question posed read “Should the Board of Supervisors of Charles City County remove both the Civil War monument in from the Old Courthouse and the Civil War monument inside the Old Courthouse?” In response, 2,360 votes (55.11 percent) responded with an answer of “no”, while 1,922 (44.89 percent) responded “yes.”
Each supervisor added a brief comment on the results of the choice made by constituents.
“I am going to honor what the people voted,” Coada said. “That’s why we sent it to referendum.”
“The citizens have spoken,” chimed in Smith. “They voted for it. I’m honoring that.”
“The community wanted to decide and they wanted to be heard,” Black added. “There were alternatives, but we wanted to hear from them and that’s why we did this.”
–Unanimously approved the restructuring of Charles City’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) effective immediately. Citing it as a personnel matter, Coada commented in open session that it was time for new leadership. Smith added that he hopes the board looks at each of the committees the same way they did with the EDA.