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City Council held public hearings Tuesday evening on the proposed school budget for the next fiscal year and higher tax rates advertised for real estate, personal property, meals, lodging and aircraft.
The proposed school budget drew the most comments. Nine citizens, including school teachers, asked City Council to consider more local funding than proposed for Danville Public Schools. As proposed, the school system would receive an increase of $1.4 million for operations for the next school year, bringing the total to nearly $20.4 million or 8.42 percent over the current level. The School Board had requested an increase of $2.1 million.
No vote was taken following the public hearing last night because the matter was scheduled for a first reading only. A first reading is an introductory step required by City code before certain matters can be voted upon. City Council will vote on the school budget at its next meeting on May 16.
The public hearings on the tax rates garnered fewer comments, with aircraft taxes drawing opposition. The City has advertised a 60-cent increase in the airplane property tax, from 30 cents to 90 cents per $100 in value.
The City also has advertised increases as follows:
The City is required to advertise maximum tax rate increases weeks ahead of making a final decision on the budget for the next fiscal year. City Council has the option of choosing a lower rate, but cannot exceed these advertised rates.
An increase in the real estate tax rate would be the first since fiscal year 2003. The current tax rate of 73 cents is second only to Williamsburg for cities and 33 cents lower than the state average. Under the new 80-cent rate, a homeowner with a house valued at $75,000 would pay an additional $52.50 per year or $4.38 per month
The revenue generated by these increases would pay for the increase in school funding and initiatives to reduce violent crime and to grow Danville. The increase in revenue also would maintain municipal services at current levels and set aside funds for employee raises and increases in employee health insurance, employee retirement contributions and medical supplies for inmates at the City Jail.
City Council must adopt a budget no later than June 30. The final budget will serve as a framework for city operations from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.
In other matters Tuesday night, City Council voted to:
In addition to these votes, City Council held a first reading on a budget amendment for transfer of $186,199 in support of capital projects and blight removal projects. The earliest vote that can take place on this matter will be the May 16 Council meeting.
Also in the business session, Mayor John Gilstrap presented two proclamations. The first proclamation declared the month of May as “Make Danville Shine Month.” The second proclamation declared next week as “National Travel and Tourism Week.”
Council's meeting included a business session followed by a work session. In work sessions, Council reviews non-routine matters that will be voted upon in future business meetings.
During the work session, City Council scheduled votes on the following items for its next business session, which will be held on May 16.
River City TV airs live all Council business sessions. The first rebroadcast will be at 8 p.m. Thursday. Watch it on cable (Comcast channel 10 and Gamewood channel 122). The taped broadcast is available now on River City TV’s Facebook page. the City’s YouTube channel -- DanvilleVAGov.
River City TV does not air work sessions, but they are open to the public.