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.
The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 07/18/2016
Good Vibrations choral group is looking for all voices with some musical experience to sing with the volunteer choir. The season runs from August to November. Genre includes patriotic and inspirational. > Read more.
It’s a great weekend to get outside! The Pocahontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society is offering two events this weekend. Accompany the group to find and document native plants present and blooming in Echo Lake Park on Saturday or take a “Sunday Stroll” at Dorey Park to observe the seasonal changes taking place. Other outdoor events this weekend include the final summer concert at West Broad Village and “Fridays on the Patio” at James River Cellars Winery in Glen Allen. If you’re going to be outside, don’t forget the insect repellent! To learn more about avoiding those pesky mosquitos, check out Henrico County’s “Fight-the-Bite TODAY” event tomorrow. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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