County may seek permission to impose meals tax

Henrico County officials plan to petition the General Assembly in the coming months for the right to institute a meals tax in the county next year.

County Manager Virgil Hazelett suggested the idea to the five-member Board of Supervisors during a work session tonight, and it met with the board's unanimous support.

Hazelett, who is retiring in January, told supervisors that the county must find new sources of revenue to combat falling revenue from both real estate taxes and the state government.

"We lost $96 million in Fiscal Year 2011," he said. "I think it's time that we try to do this, for the future of Henrico County."

Implementation of a 4-percent meals tax would generate an estimated $18 million annually for the county, Hazelett told the board.

"As the economy improves, it will only increase," he said, while noting that about 40 percent of all meals purchased in the county are bought by non-Henrico residents.

State law permits the governing bodies of any Virginia city or town to enact a meals tax by a unanimous vote, but counties are required to put the issue to voters in a referendum. Henrico did so in 2005, but its proposed 4-percent meals tax was defeated by just 151 votes.

Hazelett's proposal to the General Assembly would require that implementation of such a tax be approved by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors, to mirror the existing requirement of cities and towns.

There are 204 localities – including 45 counties – in Virginia that have a meals tax, Henrico's director of management and budget Brandon Hinton told the board. Five of those counties were granted the right by the General Assembly to impose such a tax, while voters in the other 40 approved the measure.

Richmond collects a 6-percent meals tax on all prepared meals purchased in the city.

Hazelett conceded that such a plan would not come without some controversy but suggested that the timing was right to make the attempt. Henrico and Arlington counties are the only two in Virginia that maintain their own roads, and Arlington has a meals tax.

"We are the only locality that maintains its own road system and lacks the ability to impose this tax," Hazelett told the board. "You are going to have difficult with this budget. You need to consider this – the General Assembly needs to consider this."

The board is expected to present the request to Henrico's General Assembly delegation at a Nov. 7 dinner.

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Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
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State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
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Norfolk man arrested at RIC after TSA catches him with gun

A Norfolk man was arrested at Richmond International Airport May 18 after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag.

A TSA officer detected the .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag as it passed through the security checkpoint X-ray machine. The handgun was loaded with 13 bullets.
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Police release photo of hoax bomb

Henrico Police have released a photo of the clock that resembled a bomb that led to the arrest of a Richmond woman in Shot Pump earlier this week.

The device, which the woman told police she purchased at a yard sale, was visible in her car at the Whole Foods at West Broad Village May 19, and a passerby called police, fearing it was a real bomb. Police responded as they would have had the device been real, they said, because they weren't sure if it was real or not.
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Henrico school buses with compliance issue to be fixed this summer


The 176 Henrico school buses that have been purchased since March 2011 will be fixed during the summer, Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks told the Citizen. The bus manufacturers will retrofit the buses at no cost to the school division, he said.

The brake interlock device is required on all automatic transmission buses in Virginia that were purchased after March 2011, which is when the device was added to the state Board of Education's requirements for school buses. As many as 4,000 school buses in the state may be affected, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
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Richmond-area children will be able to receive dental treatments at no cost during Sharing Smiles Day, an annual day of free dental care hosted by children’s dental provider Kool Smiles. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at Kool Smiles Southside Plaza, 4722 N. Southside Plaza St. in Richmond. Available treatments will include dental exams, limited emergency care, extractions, and restorative care. A limited number of appointments are available. Parents are strongly encouraged to register their children on the Kool Smiles website in advance of the event. Treatment is on a first-come, first-served basis and pre-registration does not guarantee treatment. Treatment offerings will be determined by the dentist. For details, visit http://www.mykoolsmiles.com/sharingsmiles or call 319-5665. Full text

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