Christiansburg Town Council members have approved the Personal Property Tax Relief Act (PPTRA) percentage for the 2023 tax year at 25.16%.
The measure was approved on a five-to-zero vote with one member absent. Last year’s rate was 25.52%.
According to the Council’s agenda meeting, “each year the town receives $228,552.85 in funds from the state to provide relief on personal property tax bills for its citizens with qualifying vehicles pursuant to the Personal Property Tax Relief Act. The change is due primarily to an increase in the number of qualifying vehicles and the increased values for those vehicles. Vehicles increased by almost 250 and the values increased by $5 million this spreads the fixed $228,552 in relief we [citizens] receive over a larger base resulting in a slightly lower percentage of relief.”
“Vehicles under $20,000 get tax relief, vehicles over $20,000 do not get tax relief. All vehicles that are $1,000 or less in value are 100% relief,” Valerie Tweedie, Finance Director, Treasurer said. “That is primarily because there is an increase in the number of qualifying vehicles and the values have increased a bit from last year. Not a huge amount, its more than just the vehicles themselves are a higher number than before.”
Two public hearings were also held during the Council’s regular meeting on Sept. 26, 2023. The first public hearing was held to hear comment about vacating the “paper street” of Alma Street in its entirety from Simmons Road, S.E. to the VDOT Park and Ride, 370 feet in length. A paper street is typically a road that exists only on paper, and for whatever reason was not built out into completion.
“As a result of Carter’s enthusiastic desire to acquire this property, redevelop it, and use it as a rental facility, due to its location and proximity to route 11, to 460, and to I-81, we would hope that Council would be inclined to agree with our assessment of the circumstances here and to approve the application to vacate on the street and allow Carter to develop the entire property,” Max Wiegard, attorney with Gentry Locke representing Carter Machinery said.
The request was later approved with a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Samuel Bishop voting no.
Also, as part of the public hearing session of the meeting, an ordinance amending Chapter 26 “Public Safety” to add Section 26-136, Cost Reimbursement for Fire Services, to the Christiansburg Town Code along with an effective date was presented and approved. This addition to the code came as a recommendation for the Emergency Services Committee.
The amendment to the town code would allow the council to pass reasonable fees to be charged for fire services provided by all fire services personnel, whether provided by town employees or volunteers. The schedule of rates for services is proposed to be established by resolution of the town council. The funds received from the payment of these fees will be used to aid in defraying the cost of providing fire services.
“We wouldn’t pursue it with collections or anything like that,” Randy Wingfield, Town Manager said. “We bill insurance and if possible, you know, Medicaid and Medicare…that’s the bulk of the collections with rescue revenue recovery and we look along the same lines with this.”
Considering town council will not be conducting a regular meeting on their next scheduled time of Oct. 10, which would delay a vote on the two agenda items until October 24, member Tim Wilson made a motion to move both public hearings to discussion and action by Mayor and Council. Councilman Casey Jenkins seconded the motion.
Councilwoman Tanya Hockett made a recommendation to schedule a special meeting the following week, postponing a vote on the two agenda items until citizens had more time to come forward with any considerations.
Mayor Mike Barber said, “In the past when we’ve had controversy in some of these public hearings, when there’s people for and against, we’ve been waiting for a few weeks but apparently there was no one tonight expressed any interest in opposing either one of them, so, I think it’s a legitimate request and particularly in the case of Carter Machinery. I mean they’re in the process of doing due diligence, and to delay that action, for a month could actually affect their final decision on what they want to do.”
Hockett went on to say that having a special meeting next week would both allow a quicker decision to be returned to Carter Machinery while giving people in the neighborhood potentially impacted by Carter’s request to vacate that street and respond at a special meeting.
Bishop agreed with Hockett that he preferred not to act on an item that was presented at a public hearing in the same night.
Council took a vote on moving the two public hearing items to the Discussions and Actions portion of the meeting, with a result of 3-2, Hockett and Bishop voting nay, and the Mayor making the final determination to vote on the public hearing items that night.
Under consent items in the council’s agenda for Sept. 26, 2023, three public hearings have been established for Oct. 24, 2023.
The public hearings are an acquisition for public property for the College Street Stormwater project, Amendment #1 of the FY 2023-24 Budget, and the 2022 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER).
Citizens came forward to address town concerns with council members as well during the meeting on Tuesday night. Concerns included an increase in signage, specifically campaign and business advertisements.
“As a citizen, I’ve experienced the pitfalls of overregulation in stopping and hindering my ability to reach out to my fellow citizens while using my signs,” Jeff Akers said. “And as a candidate for office, the sign ordinance is hamstringing as it is for businesses also, to get their message to their customers and grow their businesses. So, those listening to the sound of my voice, I ask for your vote to help us make Christiansburg business friendly.”
Dan Mederick also commented on the signage issue in Christiansburg.
“There are just so many out there, it’s unsightly,” Mederick said.
Donald Wright, of Christiansburg, also spoke about the new park and how much he and his wife have enjoyed the new park that neighbors their property. Wright was addressing the council in particular; however, about the pavilion at the park and some concerns with parking issues.
“To some of the neighbors it’s been a concern now because, for the most part, the traffic right now. We’re not seeing traffic but we’re seeing parking issues. I am concerned about the unlawful parking at that entrance and the lack of a no parking sign as opposed as to what went up today, I think,” Wright said. “They’re no trees there yet, from what I understand they are to be planted, but the trees have been planted on the north side.”
The mayor followed up with Wright’s comments to say that six seven-foot Cypress trees have been purchased and should be planted by the end of the year. Hicks added that additional fencing and security cameras will help to mitigate issues of security and aesthetics.