Meals tax slated for April 1

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A Food and Beverage Tax approved at a referendum in November is set to take effect April 1.

After conducting a public hearing, the Patrick County Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance at their meeting Monday.

The referendum was approved by voters in the November election.

The ordinance adopted Monday authorizes the county to adopt a 4-percent tax on prepared food and beverages sold in the county.

Specifically, the tax will be added to any and all edible refreshments or nourishment, liquid or otherwise, including alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages served as part of a meal and purchased in or from a restaurant, convenience store or from a caterer, whether or not consumed on the property.

Among the exemptions to the tax are items sold for off-premises consumption; unopened prepackaged snacks; food sold in bulk; beverages sold in factory sealed containers; food or beverages sold through vending machines; furnished by cafeterias operated by industrial plants for employees only or furnished by restaurants to employees; food or beverages sold by volunteer fire departments/rescue squads, nonprofit churches, other religious bodies and others on the first $100,000 of gross receipts per calendar year.

After discussion, the board also eliminated a proposed 3-percent rebate for paying the tax early.

In other matters, the board:

*Heard an update on the school division and budget calendar from Superintendent Dean Gilbert. He also noted the division has missed a total of seven school days due to inclement weather events. Two of those days have been made up; five have not, Gilbert said. The last day of school at this point is set for

May 22, but that is subject to change, Gilbert said.

*Heard a report from Lisa Price Hughes, resident engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The board approved two resolutions — adding both Squirrel Creek Road and Belcher Mountain Road to the Rural Rustic Road program. Hughes said the designation will allow the roads to be paved as they are. Hughes also said that VDOT has been working to get a joint permit to submit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on U.S. 58 for the last 90-days or so.

*Heard from Steve Terry, chairman of the Patrick County Broadband Committee and the Blue Ridge District. Terry presented an update on efforts to upgrade existing service. Asked the board to support a request for a $55,000 Appalachian Regional Grant that would require a local match of $15,000. The application period is open for a Reconnect Fund Grant, and the committee will discuss whether to apply.

*Roger Hayden, of Dan River, thanked the board, committee and others for efforts to obtain high speed internet.

*Heard from Charles Vivier, who lives in the Blue Ridge District, discussed assessments and revenue. The total taxable assessed value of land and improvements in 2018 was more than $1.5 billion, with the then tax rate of 57-cents per hundred generating approximately $9 million in revenue. An increase of 1-cent in the tax rate would generate an estimated $157,297.42. Currently, the required reassessment is underway. Vivier said that could cost about $500,000. He added that he proposed a sinking fund of $100,000 annually to help pay the bill when it was due.

“If we are currently experiencing about $9 million revenue from our current total values, then if the total values after reassessment should increase 10 percent, then how much additional revenue could the county expect,” he asked.

The answer is zero, Vivier said, adding that is because an equalization rate first must be set. To generate the same $9 million in revenue, the new values would be multiplied by 51-cents per $100, down from 57-cents per hundred.

“Then point is that total assessed values do not drive revenue. Revenue is determined by the levy you set. Because increase in value will vary for individual properties, the equalization rate of 51-cents will not leave individual taxes unchanged – some will go up, some will go down. Only the total revenue of $9 million will remain,” he said.

He added that for the most part, new construction/improvements lead to increases in the tax base.

Noting that the tax rate in 2019 increased 19 percent, with no change in assessed values, and the increase generated an additional $1.7 million in increased revenue, Vivier asked “where did it go?”

*Jack Brown, Blue Ridge District, discussed issues with the Transfer Station and asked for changes there in the hours/days of operation to better accommodate schedules of residents.

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