Supervisors update Bedford County Code

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By John Barnhart

Fortune tellers will no longer be taxed by Bedford County, but those of you writing the county a bad check will face higher fees.
    Those and other changes were part of an effort Monday to update the Bedford County Code.
    A number of items needed updating, according to County Attorney Carl Boggess and the board of supervisors unanimously adopted those changes at their Monday night regular meeting.
    Public hearings were held on each change, but nobody spoke. In fact, there were only a handful of people, other than county staff, present.
    One measure decreases the number of copies of the county code kept in the county administrator’s office. Another increases the law library fee from $2 to $4. The fee for bad checks was boosted from $25 to $50.
    Another grants the Economic Development Authority the right to grant incentives when the exact criteria for investment and job creation are not met. Boggess said Babcock & Wilcox’s test facility in New London brought the need for this to light. B&W’s investment was more than 10 times the minimum required to qualify for a business incentive, but job creation fell short. It created 18, rather than 25 jobs.
    Another repealed the cable TV franchise section of the code, which has become obsolete.
    A revision to the taxation section of the code increases the Commissioner of the Revenue’s authority to grant refunds from $500 to $2,000. It also removes the county’s tax on fortune tellers, which is a $500 fee.
    “This section is extremely old,” said Boggess. He said he believes it was originally enacted as a way to deal with a nuisance at a time when the county had no zoning. There currently is only one fortune teller in the county and she does very little business. The supervisors noted that she doesn’t foresee her business picking up.
    In other action, Susan Crawford, the county’s director of fiscal management, brought the supervisors a plan for refinancing county debt that will save the county $550,000 over the life of the loans. The supervisors unanimously approved this.
    District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek suggested Christmas bonuses for county employees, noting that they haven’t had raises in the last few years.
    “I think it’s time we show them a little appreciation,” he said.
    Cheek suggested $500 for full time employees and $250 for part-time employees.
    District 7 Supervisor Annie Pollard replied that she was told, the last time the county did employee bonuses, that these were one-time bonuses. She also said that she got a “tongue lashing” from some of her constituents at that time. Pollard said that she would rather wait to see what could be done when the county budget is developed.
    “It’s going to be expected every year,” she said. “I feel like people are paid fairly.”
    The supervisors ruled out Christmas bonuses, but not a bonus all together.
    “I think we need some more information before we make a judgement call,” District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson commented.
    Pollard reminded her fellow supervisors of the impact county taxes have on elderly home owners. She said when these people bought their homes, it didn’t cost as much as it would now and taxes were lower. Now these people are on a fixed income and property values have gone up.
    “People are so fortunate to have a job right now,” she concluded.