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.
For the third consecutive year, the Canterbury Recreation Association in Short Pump donated the most meals to the fourth-annual "Dunk Hunger" campaign, which raises money and food donations for FeedMore's Central Virginia Food Bank. Swim teams and community pools throughout the region combined to raise the equivalent of 77,404 meals this year, with the Canterbury group earning the Gold Medal, with 17,454 meals contributed.
CRA will earn a winners’ bash Aug. 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. at its pool on Pump Road.
“Our pool has adopted Dunk Hunger into its culture with fun ways to raise food and funds," said Canterbury’s Dunk Hunger chairman Jack McSorley, a Freeman High School junior. > Read more.
The last Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer outdoor concert at West Broad Village, scheduled Saturday, Aug. 22 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Short Pump, will feature a salute to the upcoming UCI Road World Cycling Championships, coming to the Richmond region next month. As an all-girl band entertains the public with an AC/DC and Foreigner tribute, representatives from West Broad Village will accept donations of children’s new and lightly used bicycles for redistribution to youngsters at the Virginia Homes for Boys and Girls. > Read more.
CAT Theatre is hosting the Red Eye 10s Coast-to-Coast Play Festival Sept. 18-19. Hosts of the festival across the country cast, rehearse and perform six, contest-winning ten-minute plays from MFA students at Hollins University in the same twenty-four hour period.
On Sept. 18, CAT will host a kick-off meeting at which the plays will be randomly cast and actors will meet with their directors and read the play for the first time. From 9 p.m. until 5 p.m. the following day, casts will rehearse in different venues in the region, convening at CAT in the late afternoon for technical rehearsals. > Read more.
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