Dillwyn Approves Budget & Tax Rates

Published 12:04 pm Thursday, August 28, 2014

DILLWYN — Town homeowners and landowners will pay over a half-cent more per $100 of assessed value in real estate taxes in Dillwyn.

The new, increased real estate tax rate is $0.0465, $0.0065 more than the former rate.

Not pennies on the dollar, but fractions on the penny.

Email newsletter signup

The rate and the increased public service corporation tax, would bring in the same amount of revenue as the current rate, say Town leaders, because of a decrease in land values in Dillwyn.

“(The) total assessed value of real property, excluding additional assessment due to new construction or improvements to property, decreased from last year’s total assessed value of real property by 14 percent,” explained the Town’s notice of the proposed real property tax rate adjustment.

“The tax rate, which would levy the same amount of real estate tax as last year…would be $0.0465 per $100 of assessed value,” the notice cites.

All other taxes, besides the real estate and public service corporation tax rates, remain unchanged, according to unanimous action taken in July by the Town Council. The adoption of the budget, which occurred in August, like the tax rates, came with little discussion from the council.

No one spoke during any of the Town’s three public hearings held in July and August regarding the budget and tax rates.

The total amount for expenses and revenues for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which begins September 1, is advertised as $1,755,790.

The expense side of the budget includes $215,000 for continued revitalization projects, and over $1.4 million for three phases of the ongoing VDOT Transportation Enhancement projects.

As for revenues, the Town is budgeting $11,756 for real estate taxes, $25,000 in fees collected from business licenses and $12,000 for bank franchise taxes, applicable to the Town’s only bank, Bank of America.

The three taxes are the Town’s largest cash cows of local revenue.

“We’re budgeting $12,000,” Johnson noted regarding the bank tax, which is based upon deposits, “…but we got $17,000 this year…And the last year before that (it) was $13,000…”

VHDA Housing

Planning Project

Town Council members voted unanimously to accept an offer from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) to be considered for a Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Student Professional Planning Project.

Under the proposal, presented by J. Michael Hawkins, VHDA’s Managing Director of Community Outreach, a VCU graduate student would identify vacant properties in the town suitable for new home construction, including large parcels suitable for subdividing into smaller lots for new homes, analyze the capacity of the existing infrastructure to accommodate the build out of new homes, providing a pattern book for house designs that reflect the architecture of the homes in Dillwyn, and determine the market area for new homes in Dillwyn.

“As I was touring the town, I noticed that there were other vacant lots here in Dillwyn that presented potential opportunities for new home ownership development, new home ownership construction,” Dr. Hawkins explained. “And it seemed that, based on the experience the Town Council had (in) working with the Habitat (for Humanity) affiliate, in terms of deciding to subdivide the larger lot and (creating) three buildable lots, that perhaps it was an opportunity to do a further analysis of other vacant parcels throughout the…town to determine other development opportunities.”

He cited that a VCU graduate student from the college’s urban and regional planning department would conduct the research and gather information.

“One of the ideas was for the graduate planning student to come in and identify the various vacancies and parcels here in the town, also determine to what extent those parcels, if they’re large enough, could be subdivided. How many housing units that might open…and also give the Town an idea from a planning perspective in terms of potential build out…” Hawkins explained, adding that VCU thought it would be a great opportunity for graduate students.

“I think it gives you all a great opportunity to build upon this partnership you’ve established with Habitat for Humanity…” he explained.

“It’s a great idea,” noted council member Karen Moss.

The program would be administered free to the Town, noted Hawkins.

State And National Historic District Nomination

Council members agreed to move forward with receiving assistance from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) in being placed on the national and state historic district registers.

“I think it would be (great), with all the things you’re doing, all these improvements…This might be one extra added incentive to bring in folks interested in, maybe, the Ranson Brothers property, or some of the other properties that need attention,” VDHR Architectural Historian Marc Wagner told the council.

“I see a possibility, if folks are interested…it could expand all the way down to that end of Town, and maybe further up this way as well,” he said while displaying a map of the proposed designation, created and based on information that eight University of Virginia graduate students compiled during the first part of 2014.

Wagner explained that the designation doesn’t restrict, in any way, a private property owner using private funds on their buildings, and provides financial benefits, mainly in the form of tax incentives.

Wagner also reiterated that the possible designation wouldn’t have any property restrictions or design guidelines for property owners.The designation of being a historic district “…does not restrict an owner’s use of…property in any way as long as private, non-government funds are used,” explains a document distributed by Wagner to the council. “It does not, for example, prohibit any owner from altering or demolishing buildings, nor does it restrict subdivision or sale. National Register listing does not require a property to be open to the public.”

The designation confers financial benefits on historic district property owners, the document offers, explaining that it allows the owner of a contributing building within the registered district to claim investment tax credits for certified rehabilitations. “The rehabilitation tax credits are dollar-for-dollar reductions in income tax liability for taxpayers who rehabilitate historic buildings,” the document notes.

According to Wagner’s map, about 25 buildings are currently in the proposed historic district, including the former Ranson Brother’s property.

“I offer this free to the Town. It’s a value historic district nomination…” he noted.

Hawkins, with the VHDA, added that his organization “…has found the historic tax credit program to be very beneficial in terms of restoring historic downtowns throughout the Commonwealth,” noting that it is a powerful resource and tool for potential developers.

Town Awarded Housing Needs Project Grant

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has awarded $25,000 to the Town of Dillwyn for a Community Development Block Grant Housing Needs Assessment Project, according to Mayor Linda Venable Paige and a letter to the Town from the agency.

“We are pleased that your project has proceeded to this point, and feel that your submissions satisfy the request we made in our initial letter to you…” a letter from DHCD explains, noting the agency will “make a total of up to $25,000 available to the Town for developing solutions to the identified needs.”

“We have talked about this several times, properties in the Town that needed rehabilitation or something of that type. And Peggy (Johnson, the Town’s clerk and treasurer) wrote the Department of Housing, and to make a long story short, we are here because of that,” Mayor Paige explained during a called March Town Council meeting.

During their August meeting, council members discussed the availability of SERCAP (Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project) volunteers assisting the Town in rehabilitating some of the identified homes.

Zoning Requests

Council members agreed to hold two zoning public hearings during their September 9 meeting: one for a variance request for “the Newton Property,” splitting it into two parcels, and another for a property on Main Street being rezoned as business.

“We have a zoning request for the Newton Property back here (to) split (it) into two parcels. This requires a variance.” Paige noted. “It’s two houses on there. They were trying to sell it together, but now, they’re going to split it into two.”

Council member Sandra F. Moss requested the zoning change for the Main Street property.

Donation In Memory

Of Pam Wright

On a unanimous vote, council members agreed to donate $200 to Dillwyn First Baptist Church’s Helping Hands Ministry in memory of Pam Wright, a local educator who passed away recently.

“As most of you know, Pam Wright, a local educator, passed last week. It was requested…that a memorial contribution be made to Helping Hands…” Paige noted before the action was taken.

Speeding Concern

Towards the end of the council meeting, town resident, Mrs. E.H. Washington, expressed concern about speeding motorists who travel along Hancock Street.

“They are speeding on Hancock Street…We have a few children on the street, and a few little animals…They’re still coming up too fast,” she explained.

Mayor Paige indicated that she would contact the Buckingham Sheriff’s Office regarding the matter.

“They have been very supportive,” Paige noted, referencing the Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police response to speeding concerns in town.

During the meeting, Paige explained that an additional speed limit sign had been installed on Main Street.