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The Board of Supervisors held an afternoon work session and an evening business meeting on May 18. Below are some of the highlights.
Negotiations between Pittsylvania County and Franklin County regarding funding for the Cool Branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad are being put on hold as Franklin County leaders further consider their options. In the interim, Franklin County leaders agreed to increase their annual contributions to each agency from $10,000 to $12,000. Pittsylvania County leaders decided during Tuesday's meeting that they plan to match this same level of funding.
"This Board of Supervisors remains committed to investing taxpayer dollars into the Cool Branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad," said Bob Warren, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “Both Franklin and Pittsylvania County leaders want to ensure that the entire Penhook community, regardless of locality, has access to quality emergency services.”
The County intends to execute a memorandum of understanding that outlines this arrangement.
This comes after more than a year of good-faith negotiations where Pittsylvania County leaders requested that Franklin County increase its annual contribution to the two Cool Branch volunteer departments. The Cool Branch agencies reside just inside Pittsylvania County, but respond to the majority of their calls in Franklin County. A range of possible solutions have been proposed and considered for how to more equitably fund the Cool Branch stations, which has received 84% of its government funding from Pittsylvania County, where only 40% of its first-due calls originate.
Franklin County requested that Pittsylvania County leaders continue funding the department at the same level while it considers its options. The Board of Supervisors is committing to match the $12,000 annual contributions from Franklin County, as well as providing insurance coverage for the agencies.
"We are thankful for Franklin County electing to increase their annual funding for the two Cool Branch agencies, and we are still committed to finding an equitable solution that works for Cool Branch, that works for the Penhook community, and that works for both counties" said Ben Farmer, Supervisor for the Callands-Gretna District where the departments are located.
The Board of Supervisors elected to table approval of wholesale revisions to the Pittsylvania County Music Festival Ordinance over concerns about issues such as general liability insurance coverage, bonds, time limitations, and safety requirements, among other things The decision to table the revisions until June came after weeks of county staff working to thoroughly revise Pittsylvania County's Music Festival Ordinance, a process that hadn't happened in 30 years, along with a public information meeting last week.
"I think it's really important that we do the absolute best we can and that we get it right," said Bob Warren, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors.
Several large music festivals planned in Pittsylvania County led leaders to realize that the ordinance needed to be updated to allow festivals to proceed safely and efficiently. Updates range from public safety and ems requirements to traffic control to security to facilities. While staff originally proposed a minimum of $1 million general liability coverage, the Board of Supervisors requested that the insurance requirements be scaled with the size of the event - ensuring that small events are not overburdened and that large festivals have adequate coverage.
Several citizens attended a public information meeting about the proposed changes on May 12. Originally scheduled for May 18, a public hearing will be held during the Board of Supervisors' June Business meeting.
Several agencies, including Pittsylvania County Community Development, Public Safety, and the Sheriff's Department, along with external agencies such as the Department of Transportation and the Health Department, would be involved in approving different elements of the plans for any music festival. Some of the biggest proposed changes relate to areas like sound and light, fire and EMS, traffic control, insurance and bonding, and security and crowd control.
You can check out our website to learn more about updates to the music festival ordinance.
William Cole, Managing Partner for Brightminds, which is Pittsylvania County's reassessment contractor, provided an update on the reassessment process. Approximately 100% of the aerial photographs, which were taken with unmanned aerial vehicles to gather more accurate, comprehensive, and equal information, have been collected, while 71% of appraisals are completed.
The Reassessment process is legally required by the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure that county citizens and landowners pay appropriate taxes based upon up-to-date market values. Localities with populations above 50,000 are required to conduct the reassessment process every four years. Brightminds is using technology like aerial photography and more equalized valuation tables to ensure equity and fairness.
As is happening across the country, property values in Pittsylvania County are steadily increasing. Sales studies conducted so far indicate that the assessed values from the 2018 reassessment are just 88% of the current sales value.
"There's not nearly as many properties for sale. The demand has not slacked off at all, and the interest rates are low," Cole said.
Property owners can expect to receive their updated property valuation in the mail sometime in the fall of 2021, and owners will have the opportunity to dispute them before they come into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Disputes will be heard first by the Board of Assessors. Any disputes that can't be resolved there will move to the Board of Equalization, the members of which are appointed by the local Circuit Court.
You can learn more about the reassessment process on our website.