Saturday, March 11, 2017

March miscellany

When you turn your clocks ahead one hour this weekend be sure to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and make sure they work.

Also, the annual burn ban, which prohibits outside fires before 4 p.m. until
April 30, is in place. If it is dry and windy, do not burn at all. Remember, the best fire is one that never starts!!

It’s budget season for Goochland County, so the supervisors are holding extra meetings to hear departmental and other presentations. On March 7, they heard some budget presentations and usual business at their regular monthly session.

Robin Lind, secretary of the Goochland Electoral Board reported that, disturbed by a lack of uniformity in reporting vote totals, double checked results of the November 8 general election around the Commonwealth. Lind found that, in fact, Goochland’s 84.80 percent voter turnout put it behind other jurisdictions in voter turnout. We needed 19 more voters per precinct to gain the top spot. Powhatan, said Lind, actually had the highest turnout.

Board Chair Ned Creasey, District 3, announced the upcoming town hall meetings. The meeting for District 2&3 will be held at the Central High School complex on March 21; Districts 4&5 at Hermitage Country Club on March 23; and District 1 at the new Hadensville Company 6 fire-rescue station on March 30. All meeting being at 7 p.m. These meetings will focus on the county budget, but entertain citizen comment on all matters of local interest.

County administrator John Budesky invited all to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Company 6 on Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m.
The budget cycle, said Budesky, will include a public hearing on the county’s proposed spending plan for Fiscal 2018 on April 4 at 7 p.m. The supervisors will vote on adoption of the budget and tax rates for calendar year 2017 at 3 p.m. on April 18. Citizens are encouraged to share their thoughts and concerns on the proposed budget via phone call, email, or in person. Budesky said that all input and engagement on the budget is welcome and appreciated.

County Human Resources Director Kelly Parrish introduced new county employees, including three advanced life support paramedics.

The supervisors authorized two rabies’ clinics. One on April 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. on the corner of Fairground and Sandy Hook Roads in Courthouse Village. The fee is $10 per dog or cat. The second will be on April 29 from nine a.m. until noon at the Fife Company 4 Fire-Rescue station. The fee is $10 per dog or cat.

The supervisors adopted a resolution amending their Rules of Procedure. This change is in response to confusion when more than two supervisors attend meetings other than their own including community meetings for land use changes. The new language in Article 2.2 says that when two or more board members attend community, planning commission, or other meetings concerning public business, they will not consider motions, vote, or take any official action. In compliance with the Virginia Freedom of Information ACT (FOIA), notice of a special meeting will be provided and minutes of the meetings will be maintained.

Our supervisors and planning commissioners are to be commended for their interest in citizen input on local matters, especially land use changes. Some confusion at a recent community meeting prompted the change to ensure that proper disclosure of attendance at these sessions is observed. Visit for details.

Goochland County Treasurer Pamel Cooke Johnson, MGT, presented background on tax collection in the county.

Johnson, who is a Constitutional Officer elected by the citizens said that people who live in Virginia and own property, real or personal, owe taxes each year. In jurisdictions, including Goochland, the governing board sets tax rates, which are applied to valuations to compute tax bills.

Goochland citizens do a pretty good job of paying their taxes. Johnson reported that, for the most recently reported billing cycle, taxes were collected as follows: 99.06 percent for real-estate; 98.91 percent for personal property tax; and 99.01 per cent overall. Assessments are by the calendar year (January to December) collections are by the fiscal year (July 1 to June 30).

Taxes on machinery, tools and business equipment, are billed one time per year, all other taxes are billed twice per year and these bills are due on June and December 5.

Johnson reminded people to contact the Treasurer’s Office if they have not received their tax bills by either Mother’s Day or Thanksgiving to ensure timely payment. If taxpayers move and do not report their change of address to DMV on their license and auto registration, tax bills will be sent to their old address. Failure to receive a bill does not relieve property owners from additional charged that accrue for payment after the due date.

Since taking office in 2011, Johnson has aggressively pursued collection of delinquent taxes. In some cases, where land owners could not be located, Johnson used available legal remedies to sell land, recover tax liability, and get the land back on the tax rolls with new owners. Some of these were twenty years past due.

She has also worked with land owners behind on their tax obligations to set up payment plans with installment arrangements to help them catch up. State law requires that oldest taxes be paid first and new taxes be paid on time and in full. About half of these plans have been successful.

Penalties for delinquent taxes are stiff. The daily 10 percent penalty begins the day after the due date. Interest at the rate of 10 percent begins to accrue the first day of the following month. Bills contain detailed information about payment options. The first half personal property tax bill includes the vehicle license fee. Filing a high mileage form can reduce personal property taxes.

Johnson said that the Treasurer has a variety of state sanctioned methods for collecting delinquent taxes, which are applied as appropriate. Delinquent bills are mailed twice a year. She said that a number of people prepay their taxes.

Johnson encouraged everyone to read all parts of their tax bills and pay their taxes on time. Visit the Treasurer’s website for complete information.

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