South Boston residents can expect a 6-cent increase in their real estate taxes starting next month.
South Boston Town Council at its Monday evening meeting approved the increase in real estate taxes from 21 cents per $ 100 of assessed value to 27 cents. Along with the tax increase, council voted on a $ 15.31 million budget for the town’s 2022-23 fiscal year.
Town manager Tom Raab told council members in a previous meeting that providing a pay increase for the town’s employees was one of the main reasons for the proposed tax increase.
Council approved the budget in a 4-2 vote, with councilman Tommy Elliott and councilwoman Barbara Speece casting the dissenting votes. Vice Mayor Bob Hughes made the motion to approve the budget and councilman Winston Harrell seconded the motion.
Elliott and Hughes both reiterated the reasons for their stances on the tax increase, with Hughes in favor and Elliott opposed.
“I just think this is not the appropriate time to do this,” Elliott stated. “I think we need to tighten our belts just like the households are tightening their belts, and I see fluff in the budget that I think we could attend to.”
Hughes responded, saying, “I do not see a lot of fluff in the budget. What I see rather than a wish list is a needs list. ”
The deputy mayor reiterated his view that because of inflation, a 6-cent tax increase will only allow the town to “keep our heads above water.”
“Gas prices affect us all. The town certainly is not immune to this, ”Hughes said. “And training is not just attending a seminar for police and for fire people. It’s an ongoing process. And if you think that’s expensive, try not training them. Because the largest cost in business and industry is personnel. ”
Hughes added the town also has to be prepared for “unforeseen” circumstances, such a flood or other natural disaster.
Chandler voiced his agreement with Hughes’ stance.
“It’s vital that we pay our police, our fire, our public works people reasonable and competitive wages, not only to recruit but to retain personnel,” he said. “Yes, this is tough. Yes, I understand that people are unhappy about it, but I see it as a necessity. ”
Councilwoman Sharon Harris also expressed her agreement with the need for the tax increase, stating she has faith in Raab to best identify the town’s needs.
“If our town manager thinks now is the time to increase taxes to support our staff, then I think now is the time, and I support it,” Harris said.
Elliott made the comment that he is “all for supporting the fire and police” and would support a smaller, 2-cent tax increase this year, but not a 6-cent increase.
Speece also stated her opposition to the 6-cent tax increase, saying she would support a smaller increase.
“I just do not feel it is the time to make this astronomical increase in taxes,” Speece expressed. “I think the citizens are going to be taxed enough just meeting their monthly bills that are rising all the time.”
Along with approving the budget and fee and tax listing at Monday’s meeting, council honored former councilman Bill Snead with a resolution. Snead served four terms on council. He was first elected in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010, 2014, and 2018. Snead resigned his seat on council effective April 30 because of moving out of town.
The resolution in Snead’s honor states he was “an extraordinarily effective elected representative, a true conservative and guardian of tax dollars,” and was “a strong leader, having the courage to make the tough decisions, while earning the respect of fellow council members, staff and citizens. ”
Snead shook the hand of Mayor Ed Owens, and told him, “I want to thank you for your confidence in me, putting me as chair of the finance committee.”
Snead added serving on town council had been “not only an honor but a privilege.” He also thanked Raab, former town manager Ted Daniel and town clerk Jane Daniel for their leadership of the town.
In other action, council approved by unanimous vote an application for a certificate of convenience and necessity for a limousine service, Drew Limousine Service, LLC, run by former school bus and charter bus driver Andrew Barksdale.
Council also voted to reappoint Larry Clark to the Halifax County South Boston Regional Library board of trustees and to reappoint Frank Lee and George Burton to the South Boston Industrial Development Authority.