Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tax Relief/Legislative Package – Nov. 17th Council

Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea and Councilman Court Rosen introduced a resolution to increase the limits to qualify for real estate tax relief both for the disabled and seniors 65 and over.
The income maximum was raised from $34,000 to $42,000. The maximum net worth was raised from $125,000 to $160,000. Net worth does not include home ownership. The maximum allowed by the State of Virginia is $50,000 and $200,000 respectively.
Ann Shawver, Director of Finance, explained to Council that the impact on revenue was unclear since the city does not capture data on citizens’ income or net worth. However, Shawver stated that currently the city’s revenue was impacted at $600,000 annually or about $400 per person. She would guess the inclusion of addition real estate tax freezes would result in about $200,000 in lost revenue.
Council member, Gwen Mason, commented should the economy improve, “once relief is given you can’t take it back.” Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea said, “it was the right thing to do… this is time sensitive.” Councilman Court Rosen added that should the economy improve as dramatically as Mason suggested than they would be leaving the program anyway. The resolution passed unanimously.
Valley View Bus Stop

On the agenda Monday was a request by Mayor Bowers and Vice-Mayor Lea for an update on the Valley View Bus stop. The bus stop was removed by Valley View management creating a hazard for citizens navigating the busy roadways to get to a bus stop. The City Manager, Darlene Burcham, said that Valley Metro had made progress and that a bus stop and shelter would be located within the mall area prior to the holiday shopping season.

Legislative Package Proposed – Cigarettes Targeted
A seven page legislative package was complete according to the Chairman of the Legislative Committee, Councilman David Trinkle. Members of the legislature will be at the next Council meeting. Included among the items is a request to empower the City to regulate or prohibit smoking in certain defined areas outdoors and indoors. Council member Gwen Mason took it a step further adding a “Cigarette Butt Deposits“ request that would authorize localities to impose a refundable fee on each cigarette sold; the refund would be made up on the return of the cigarette “butt.”

Other requests included extension of rail service from Bristol through Roanoke to Lynchburg, support for a Hotel Roanoke expansion, restoration of State budget cuts, and Advisory Referenda that Senator Edwards introduced in 2004 but was left in committee.
Legislative Package and RCPS Funding
Roanoke City Public Schools opposes the-continued use of the Literary Fund for purposes other than school construction and the state should balance the general fund without using the proceeds of the Literary Fund to balance the budget.
When contacted School Board Chairman, David Carson said, “In fiscal year 2008, revenues for the Literary Fund are estimated to be $187.0 million. These revenues will be added to $81.1 million of anticipated unspent revenues from FY2007. The funds are programmed to be used in the following manner pursuant to provisions of the appropriation act: $115.9 million transferred for teacher retirement, $63.8 million to pay debt service on technology equipment notes, $20.0 million for an interest rate subsidy program and It is not anticipated that any funds will be available to issue direct loans in FY2008.”
Carson added that he sees as a priority legislatively that, “we are probably looking at the state to grant usgreat flexibility in meeting the SOQs (Standards of Quality). In particular, if we are going to get our state funding slashed, then it seems to us that rather than having to continue meeting all of the rigid state SOQs (with limited money), the state should grant us flexibility with respect to the some of them so that we can use our limited money wisely.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Roanoke City Politics

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