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Henry County supervisors vote to return sales tax money to school board

HENRY COUNTY, VA – The Henry County Board of Supervisors voted during its Tuesday regular meeting to allocate 100 percent of revenue from a 1 percent sales tax increase to the Henry County School Board.

The vote came after the supervisors received a letter from the School Board formally requesting the return of $2.6 million from the sales tax revenue, which was designated to fund school construction and improvement projects.

On Tuesday evening, Henry County Public Relations and Community Liaison Brandon Martin wrote in a press release that the Board of Supervisors voted to dedicate “extra funds towards school facilities improvements.”

After BTW21 News shared the press release, the school board and school administration said this was not the case.

“That money belongs to us,” school board member Ben Gravely told BTW21's media partner the Henry County Enterprise when the school board voted to send the letter. “That money is owed. They should give us our money.”

The supervisors made the choice to set aside some of the sales tax revenue to pay down debt from previous school construction and improvement projects although Virginia law states that “revenues from this tax shall be used solely for capital projects for new construction or major renovation of schools.”

The Enterprise reports that in December, then-Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion stating that the revenues from the additional tax should be used to fund capital projects for new construction or major renovation of schools and not for debt mitigation.

At the time, the attorney general’s website noted that the opinions issued by that office “are not legally binding” but “are frequently relied on by courts and members of the General Assembly, in addition to the officials to whom they are addressed.”

“I am glad the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to return the 1 percent sales tax to the school board for new construction and renovations in accordance with the Attorney General's opinion, the law, and the will of the voters in the referendum,” School Board Vice Chairman Teddy Martin said.

Since the proposal constitutes a change of more than one percent of the current budget, the Board of Supervisors set a public hearing for April 26 at 6 p.m. to receive citizen input on the adjustment.

In other matters, the Board:

  • Approved a proclamation celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Martinsville Speedway. In conjunction with the proclamation, staff also unveiled a new, temporary logo incorporating the anniversary. The logo will be used in marketing efforts for Henry County and Martinsville Speedway.

  • Conducted a public hearing and approved changes to the magisterial districts proposed by the Redistricting Committee during the Board’s February regular meeting

  • Approved an additional appropriation of $300,000 received from the Virginia Department of Health’s Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance Program to be used for school-related expenses surrounding testing and communication about public health surrounding the coronavirus

  • Approved an additional appropriation of $1,036,250 from the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program for site work on Lot #2 of Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre. The funds will be used to clear timber from the site and prepare grading design plans.

  • Approved an additional appropriation of $357,741 received from the Virginia Tobacco Commission for site work on Lot #5 of Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre. The funds will be used for grading and development.

  • Approved an additional appropriation totaling $414,993 from the contingency and carryover funds to replace the roof on the Henry County Recreation Center. The Board also awarded a contract of $567,000 to JT Morgan Roofing, Inc. The remainder of the funds for the contract will come from a previous allocation in the fiscal year 2022 budget for the same project.

  • Awarded a contract to EMS Management and Consultants, Inc., for emergency medical services billing services. Pricing is based on a percentage of collections and is estimated to be approximately $42,000 annually.

  • Set a public hearing for April 26 at 6 p.m. to receive input on a proposed ordinance that would create a Tourism Incentive Zone. The tourism zone will function like an enterprise zone, allowing businesses to take advantage of state and local tax incentives to stimulate business attraction, growth and increased employment opportunities within the County.

  • Conducted a public hearing and approved a rezoning request of approximately 3.4-acres from Suburban Residential (S-R) District to Agricultural District (A-1) at 902 Eggleston Falls Road in the Ridgeway District. The applicant wishes to build additional accessory buildings on the property.

  • Conducted a public hearing and approved a resolution in support of a Community Development Block Grant proposal for the Fieldale Heritage Revitalization Project. If funded, the grant would provide up to $1 million towards the project.

  • Approved a proclamation declaring April 3-9, 2022 as National Library Week

  • Approved a proclamation establishing March 2022 as Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month in Henry County

  • Approved a resolution supporting the addition of Buckingham Terrace to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s secondary road system

  • Recognized the winning teams of the Parks and Recreation winter sports programs

  • Heard from Andrew Barker, of the Iriswood District, about County tax revenue

NOTE: This article was updated to reflect both side of the story not just information shared in a press release.

This is the press release from Henry County

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