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Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman presented the proposed budget for Pittsylvania County's fiscal year 2022 during a Tuesday finance committee meeting. The budget includes no tax increases and a general fund of $71,570,497, which is approximately $2 million more than fiscal year 2021.
"As directed by this Board of Supervisors, we are continuing to increase investments in critical services like public safety and education while faithfully paying off debt," said Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman.
In total, 71% of the general fund budget, which is the primary portion of the budget that is controlled by the county, is for three main categories: public safety/justice (29%), education (28%), and debt (14%).
"That leaves 29% for everything else we do: recreation, community development, information technology, finance, and all the other things we do," Smitherman said.
Under this budget, Pittsylvania County's Real Estate Tax rate of $.62 for every $100 of assessed value will remain the same. While Pittsylvania County's tax rate is comparable to many surrounding localities, the tax burden is actually lower due to a lower value of total taxable properties.
The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors is committed to continuing to invest in public safety and education. Since fiscal year 2018 the Board of Supervisors has increased annual funding to Pittsylvania County Schools by $2.5 million, bringing the total to more than $19 million annually. Public Safety investments have also increased substantially in the past several few years as the Board has increased funding to the volunteer fire and ems stations and implemented a pay study to bring law enforcement salaries up to par with the surrounding areas. Roughly 14% of all general fund expenditures are for the payment of debt, the majority of which comes from the 2007 $70 million high school and 2001 $39 million middle school construction bond referendums.
The total budget includes expenditures of $211,31,028, which is roughly $26 million more than the FY 2021 budget of roughly $201 million. Those increases are due in large part to increases in state and federal funding, including a school division budget that increases from $101 million in FY 2021 to $113 million in FY 2022.
During its evening business meeting the Board of Supervisors voted to approve the budget to be advertised to the public. Several public meetings and information sessions will take place over the next few weeks to allow citizens the opportunity to hear more about the budget, ask questions, and provide feedback. These presentations will take place at the following locations at 6 p.m.:
The Pittsylvania County Reassessment Team provided a thorough update on the 2022 reassessment and explained some of the methods for this reassessment during a Tuesday work session. Since a poorly edited letter about the 2022 reassessment was sent to all county property owners in early February, Pittsylvania County has been aggressive in keeping the public informed about the process.
"Our goal was to communicate clearly and openly with the citizens," Pittsylvania County Project Manager Nicholas Morris said regarding the letter that went out. Since then a second letter was sent to all property owners and information has been distributed in many other ways, including through the news media, social media and the county website, and PittCo Happenings.
Reassessment is the legally required process of reevaluating every property to ensure that it is assessed at a fair market value. As required by Virginia law, Pittsylvania County operates on a four year reassessment cycle.
William Cole, the Managing Partner of Pittsylvania County's assessment contractor, Brightminds, LLC, explained his team's valuation process and provided some demonstrations and example homes and how they would be valued. For instance, Cole explained the quality grading system - which ranges from A at best to E at worst - and showed where different homes would fit into that system. Cole also explained the difference between quality and condition: condition is the current state of the materials, whereas quality is the material's overall grade.
Brightminds is utilizing technology, including drone photography, to ensure the most accurate, fair, and equalized results possible for the 2022 reassessment. The drone photographs can be used to take measurements and get a more complete understanding of a given property.
"The property is not just the dwelling; it's the overall site, and that drone picture allows you to see the overall site," Cole said.
The team from Brightminds has completed 82% of its flyovers and will continue visiting properties in the coming weeks. You can fill out the information request and learn more about reassessment.
Through the Pittsylvania County Small Business Assistance Grant program, which is funded by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), 12 local business have been approved to receive assistance grants of up to $15,000.
“We are thankful to DHCD for allowing us to be able to assist our unique retail, food services and personal services businesses. This injection of funding will enable them to continue safe and sustainable operations in our community,” said Susan McCulloch, Economic Development Project Manager.
Pittsylvania County was awarded $330,000 from the DHCD in September to assist qualifying small businesses with grants up to $15,000 for rent/mortgage assistance for up to six months and/or technology/retooling to assist with reopening or safely remaining open due to the impact from COVID-19. Since January 2021, the County received 23 applications. With support from the Pittsylvania County Small Business Assistance Fund (SBAF) Management Team, the Pittsylvania County SBAF Review Team chose the following twelve applicants to move forward with funding once verified receipts/rent/mortgage information are received:
A second round of applications will be scored in the next few weeks. As many as 20 small businesses will receive up to $15,000 apiece. To be eligible, businesses had to be based in Pittsylvania County, opened before March 12, employ 20 or fewer people, and been impacted by COVID-19. In addition to these criteria, one of DHCD’s goal is to assist women and/or minority-owned businesses. The selected applications meet this criteria: 75% are women-owned businesses and 33% are minority-owned businesses.
The Pittsylvania County SBAF Management Team members are a vital group of stakeholders who have offered guidance, promoted the program, helped score the applications and offered feedback. They represent the professional, financial and towns of Hurt, Gretna and Chatham. They are Greg Anderson, Vice President at First Citizens Bank; Jessica Edwards, Principal Coordinator at the Dan River Entrepreneurial Ecosystem; Alexis Ehrhardt, President & CEO of the Chamber of Commerce; Kelly Hawker, Town Clerk for the Town of Chatham; Richard Hicks, Deputy County Administrator for Pittsylvania County; Shirley Barksdale-Hill, Vice-Mayor of the Town of Hurt; Dianne Jennings, Vice-Mayor of the Town of Gretna; Susan McCulloch, Project Manager for Pittsylvania County Economic Development; Rachel Reynolds, Research Specialist with the SVRA; and Kim Van der Hyde, Finance Director for Pittsylvania County.