Farmville Fights To Keep BPOL

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Town of Farmville has wisely joined forces with localities across the state to preserve the BPOL tax as it is.

As it is, the BPOL tax will generate approximately $1.3 million in revenue this year.

As it is, that will be $1.3 million the Town of Farmville won't have to generate with local tax increases to compensate for the loss of funds.

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As it is, the Town believes, is how it should remain.

Town Council member David E. Whitus shaped his words with blunt effect when assessing the damage to Farmville's budget and municipal ability were the state to mess with the BPOL tax. Even to make it a tax on gross profits rather than gross receipts. “That would be a huge difference,” Mr. Whitus said during last week's special called meeting of Town Council. “Which would kill us.”

Farmville is hardly alone in harboring visions of dread. Towns across the state hold the same view. It was the Town of Mineral, in fact, that began raising what it hopes will become a strong collective voice against any state meddling with the BPOL, or Business, Professional and Occupational License Tax on annual gross receipts.

Members of the General Assembly, and more than one governor, have periodically made moves toward rescinding or reshaping the BPOL tax but stopped short of doing anything. Towns like Farmville and Mineral want it to stay that way. There are indications, however, and murmurs of legislative machinations toward disarranging the BPOL tax.

Towns like Farmville and Mineral are resolved to make it clear to the legislature that they rely heavily on the BPOL tax for day to day operational costs and services to residents-the nuts and bolts of municipal governance.

How heavily? The Town of Farmville will tell state officials the BPOL tax is expected to comprise 19.14 percent of the entire revenue of the Town in 2010-11. Just about 20 percent.

The state government, accustomed to dealing with vast sums of money-VDOT was found sitting on one billion dollars (see editorial above)-doesn't really understand the delicate balancing act required of smaller municipal budgets and daily operation, the Minerals and Farmvilles of Virginia assert. And they want politicians in Richmond to consider all aspects of the BPOL tax before making any decisions.

Just as they want any decision to conclude that the Commonwealth should leave the BPOL tax alone.

A reasonable request. That decision would allow towns like Farmville to stay away from the necessity of raising other local taxes to make up the loss.