The Patrick County Board of Supervisors voted to allow Treasurer Sandra Stone to issue corporate refunds at its Oct. 26 meeting.
“There are quite a few refunds to be issued. One of them is quite large, because corporations are quite large, and one of them is over $14,000,” Stone said.
Because there are nine refunds due, Stone asked the board’s permission to issue them now.
When the bills were sent out earlier this year, Stone said several corporations already paid for the year because by law, information for the bills is gathered in April.
“Information from the SCC (State Corporation Commission)” isn’t received until September, Stone said, and explained the April assessment is an estimate.
“You, as the board, can adopt an ordinance allowing me to go ahead and issue the refunds once the Commissioner gives me what we call the abatements, when she exonerates them, and if they’ve been paid. This is only if they’ve been paid,” Stone said.
Noting that this situation will occur annually because the county has twice a year billing, Stone said an ordinance would allow her to issue the refunds without asking for permission each year.
County Attorney Mark Popovich said he would draft the ordinance. He previously created a similar ordinance for another county.
Clyde DeLoach, chairman and of the Blue Ridge District, said he would like for Stone to notify the board each time she issued refunds to ensure all supervisors will know and can answer questions from the public properly.
In other matters, the board:
*Approved a Solar Facilities Ordinance. DeLoach said as solar energy is moving quickly throughout Virginia “it behooves” the county “to have an ordinance to cover it.”
*Heard from Kurt Bozenmayer, of the Smith River District, regarding public perception on several matters in the county. He said coverage of the last supervisors meeting specifically stated the board wanted the $10,000 library bonus to be one-time, and not to be expected every year.
“In contrast, back in July or August, our County Emergency Management Director appeared before the board requesting addition of a second paid ambulance crew to relieve the burden on the regular crew,” he said.
When a supervisor asked how much that would cost, he noted Finance Office Lori Jones promptly responded “$500,000 per year.” While he doesn’t disagree with the need for extra Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, he believes how the county funds them bears some closer scrutiny.
“Now, half-a-million dollars probably doesn’t seem like much to a county that raised its overall budget from $56 million to $66 million in one year, which is an 18 percent increase, but it does sound like a lot to the individual taxpayer,” he said.
When he took a closer look at the $500,000, Bozenmayer said he broke it down to being $250 per hour for a 40-hour work week. He added he didn’t recall hearing how many personnel would be involved in the new crew.
“Either way, with the FY-2023 Emergency Response budget proposed at $578,000 earlier this year, that half-a-million increase represents an increase of over 86 percent. Or, for every man, woman, and child in Patrick County, an additional cost of $29 per person, per year,” he said.
Bozenmayer said the $10 million budget increase for FY2023 was explained as being partially funded by American Rescue Plan Act (APRA) funds.
“But I’m forced to wonder: if the ARPA money runs out in 2023, will the county budget go back to $56 million, or stay closer to $66 million? I guess we’d better be ready for another exciting property tax discussion next year,” he said.
He noted public perception and understanding of the factors behind these financial decisions is going to be more important as the economy declines, and asked the board to help the taxpayers understand where the money goes and why.
DeLoach asked Jones to explain the breakdown of the $500,000. She said the amount was calculated by doubling the amount and cost of the current crew, including salary, federal taxes, and benefits.
“It was a means for us to estimate how much it would cost. A second truck would require a second crew, so we doubled what we have now,” she said.
*Approved closing the Transfer Station on holidays, starting with Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 10. Denise Stirewalt, of the Peter’s Creek District, said holiday closings of the Transfer Station will be sent to the media and will be available on the county’s website.
*Paid the bills, claims, and appropriations.
*Approved the Patrick County Public Schools (PCPS) budget amendment.
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