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PE Tackles Legislative Priorities

PRINCE EDWARD – It may seem a bit of an odd time of the year to start thinking of the next session of the General Assembly, but off-seasons often are the time to lay the building blocks for success.
<br />A committee of county supervisors and staff has been meeting to update a list of priorities as the board headed to a meeting with legislators this week. Supervisors approved the committee's recommendation at their September 14 meeting.

Among the issues highlighted by the board:

*State tax reform – urged the General Assembly “to consider a thorough and comprehensive restructuring” of the state's tax structure to rescue pressure on local property taxes.

*County food and beverage tax – “The board of supervisors…continues to voice its objections to the cuts in state funding for state mandated programs administered by local governments, especially funding for education. The County believes that the commonwealth and the General Assembly cannot continue to cut state funding and yet also continue to block all opportunities for localities to generate new, equitable revenue streams, by means other than increasing local property taxes.”

The board called for the General Assembly to amend state code to allow counties to impose a food and beverage tax by ordinance and to remove the four percent cap. In lieu of that change, the County asked to be added to a specific section of state code that would allow Prince Edward to levy the food and beverage tax.

*Devolution of state secondary road system – the County expressed opposition to the devolution for the maintenance, operational and construction responsibilities on secondary roads in the State and urges the legislature “to provide enhanced and/or new funding strategies for our deteriorating primary and secondary road systems.”

*Judicial appointments and funding – urged the General Assembly to fill a judgeship vacancy in the Tenth Judicial Circuit and create a new judgeship that was recommended by the Judicial Council of Virginia due to caseload.

*Funding for law enforcement – requested that the General Assembly “fully fund the Sate Compensation Board to a level as set out” in State Code, or one deputy for every 1,500 in population.

*And insurance exemptions – strongly encouraged the legislature “to provide the same insurance exemptions for the hauling agricultural products” allowed for forestry products.

The priority list is expected to be forwarded to legislators, the Virginia Association of Counties and the Commonwealth Regional Council and to be considered in regional and statewide legislative priorities.

A luncheon was held Wednesday at Hampden-Sydney College where the full board discussed issues with legislators and prospective legislators. Those attending included Delegate Jim Edmunds, Senatorial candidates Tom Garrett and Bert Dodson, a representative from Congressman Robert Hurt, the County School Board, Town Council and a representative from Longwood University.