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Beginning with committee meetings in the afternoon, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors held a busy day of meetings on Tuesday. Some of the highlights included:
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution that supports a 1% local sales tax referendum for county school renovation and construction. Now that the Board of Supervisors, at the request of the Pittsylvania County School Board, passed this resolution, Pittsylvania County voters will decide in November whether to enact the sales tax increase, with the projected $3.3 million in annual revenue going exclusively toward capital projects for the construction or renovation of county schools.
With backing from the Virginia General Assembly, Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill in 2019 that gave Pittsylvania County the authority to levy a general retail sales tax not to exceed 1% to provide revenue solely for capital projects in the school system. Like most Virginia Public School divisions, Pittsylvania County has many older school facilities with significant capital needs. Over the next decade, the Division has HVAC and window replacement needs and building renovations at seven elementary schools and the Pittsylvania Career and Technical Center totalling $20 million.
"A 1% sales tax for school capital projects will allow the County to pay for school renovation needs like roof and HVAC unit replacements that cost millions of dollars without requiring a real estate tax increase," said Mark Jones, Superintendent of Pittsylvania County Schools.
Added Sam Burton, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County School Board: “I have been associated with Pittsylvania County Schools over 25 years, and this is the first opportunity that we have had to complete capital improvement projects without a tax burden on the landowner. We appreciate the collaboration between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors.”
The question on the ballot in November will read substantially as follows: “Should Pittsylvania County be authorized to levy a general retail sales tax at a rate not to exceed one percent (1%), provided the revenue from the sales tax shall be used solely for capital projects for the construction or renovation of schools in Pittsylvania County and that the sales tax shall expire by September 30, 2051?"
Increasing Pittsylvania County's sales tax by 1% would bring the total sales tax to 6.3%, which is less than the 6.75 -7.5% charged in North Carolina
State Code allows Pittsylvania County to finance the construction or renovation projects by bonds or loans, all of which must be repaid by 2051. In other words, the expected revenue from the additional 1% sales tax will cover the debt payments needed for the renovation and construction. Pittsylvania County is still paying off debt for the construction of four high schools and four middle schools, which were constructed in the early and mid 2000s.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of a summer youth work program that will allow 25 Pittsylvania County students to gain meaningful employment experiences over the summer. The application process is currently being developed with help from partner organizations such as the West Piedmont Workforce Development Board (WPWDB) and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
After the City of Danville recently announced a program for area youth, Banister District Supervisor Charles Miller requested that Pittsylvania County staff work with area agencies to develop a similar opportunity for Pittsylvania County youth.
"I wanted to make sure that Pittsylvania County youth have opportunities to get meaningful work experience over the summer, and I am thrilled with the role that Pittsylvania County gets to play in making that happen," said Charles Miller, Banister District Representative on the Board of Supervisors. "I believe that this program will be mutually beneficial for the agencies involved and the driven youth who are selected."
Approximately 25 youth will be selected for the eight-week program and will be placed in different work environments with Pittsylvania County, Pittsylvania County Schools, Pittsylvania County Community Action, the Institute, and other area agencies depending on factors like career interest, transportation, skills, and availability. In addition to career coaching and a work readiness bootcamp, each participant will earn a $2,800 stipend. Youth and young adults ages 16 to 24 will be eligible to participate in the program, which is scheduled to run from June through the end of July.
The Board of Supervisors approved Pittsylvania County contributing approximately as much as $75,000 to make this program happen. For 25 students, this internship program will cost close to $100,000.
This summer youth program is the result of collaboration between Pittsylvania County Schools, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, Pittsylvania County Community Action, the WPWDB, and Pittsylvania County. Dr. Julie Brown, Director of Advanced Learning and Research at the Institute, developed the program structure.
“Work-based learning experiences such as job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships, are critical to helping youth explore career opportunities and gain experience,” said Dr. Julie Brown from the Institute. “These opportunities also provide employers with access to the emerging talent pool and are an effective low-risk recruitment strategy.”
The West Piedmont Workforce Development Board will serve as the lead agency and fiscal agent and provide intern support services while the Institute will provide project facilitation and evaluation services.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution in support of renaming the 29 Business North bridge in Blairs the "William H. Pritchett Memorial Bridge" after the late Mr. Pritchett, who was the first black supervisor in Pittsylvania County and the first elected official for the Banister District.
"As the representative for the Banister District where Mr. Pritchett served so faithfully for 20 years, I am pleased to see our Board continuing to honor the contributions of black residents who have made a positive impact on our entire county," said Charles Miller, Supervisor for the Banister District.
Pritchett was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1992, becoming both the first African-American on the board and the first elected official of the newly formed Banister District, which was the county's first majority minority district. During his 20 years on the Board of Supervisors, Pritchett was involved in many different subcommittees, served on various community boards, and was a leader in the development of the West Piedmont Work Force Investment Board. Pritchett died in 2016.
This is the third bridge that the Board of Supervisors has recommended renaming in the past 16 months. A resolution was passed in early 2020 supporting that the Chatham North Bridge be named after the late Roy P. Byrd Jr., another former member of the Board of Supervisors who also served on the county Industrial Development Authority and the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The bridge was officially renamed in his honor in October.
Earlier this year a resolution was unanimously passed in support of renaming the Chatham South Bridge on Route 29 after the late Clyde Banks, Sr. This resolution will be passed onto the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board, which has the authority to name state highways, bridges, interchanges, and other transportation facilities. The Transportation Board is slated to approve the renaming of the Clyde Banks, Sr. bridge on April 21.
The Board of Supervisors approved Pittsylvania County providing a moral obligation for an $8.5 million loan for the construction of a nearly 150,000 square foot facility in the Southern Virginia Multimodal Park in Hurt that will be occupied and leased by Staunton River Plastics, LLC. The loan is from American National Bank and Trust to the IDA, and the monthly payments will be more than covered by payments from Staunton River Plastics.
"This Board of Supervisors is thrilled about the progress and development happening in the northern end of our county," said Tim Dudley, Supervisor for the Staunton River District. "We view this moral obligation as a simple way for us to facilitate improved economic opportunity for our residents and enhance prosperity for our county."
The Pittsylvania County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) approved a construction contract with ARCO Design-Build for the construction of the 150,000 square foot facility for approximately $9.73 million during a meeting on April 15. Staunton River Plastics, the manufacturer that is locating into the facility, will make an upfront equity payment of approximately $1.5 million to the IDA and make monthly payments that exceed the mortgage. At the end of seven years, the company will purchase the building from the IDA for the remaining debt plus $100,000.
By approving the moral obligation, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors are saying that it will pay the loan in the event that the IDA cannot. Should the Company be in default of the Facility Lease, the County/County IDA will own a marketable building asset that has been subsidized in cost via the upfront payment from Rage Corporation and the monthly lease payments.
Pittsylvania County has a $10 million annual capacity for moral obligation financing where it serves as the backer for other non-profit and quasi-government agencies, such as the IDA or volunteer fire and rescue agencies. For instance, Pittsylvania County frequently provides moral obligation for large capital purchases like fire trucks, which typically cost several hundred thousand dollars.
Governor Ralph Northam and Staunton River Plastics, which is a subsidiary of Ohio-based Rage corporation, announced in May of 2020 that the company would develop a new facility in the Southern Virginia Multimodal Complex in Hurt that, over four years, would result in 200 new jobs and $34 million in capital investments. The company already has all necessary permits in place and is slated to break ground on the project in May.