Campbell Co., VA - It is a hot item on Tuesday's ballot in Campbell County: A meals tax referendum of up to 4%.
The school system has seen a $12.5 million reduction in state and federal funding over the past four years. During the budget process, the board of supervisors decided they wanted to offset $5 million of those state reductions in local funding. They implemented $3.5 million in real-estate and personal property taxes. Now they are asking the public to consider another $1.5 million in the form of a meals tax.
"Just ask folks to go out and vote their conscience and do what they think is the best thing to do," County Administrator David Laurrell said.
Laurrell and I went through the materials piece by piece.
"It just says this is what happens if and these are the circumstances and this is the situation," Laurrell said.
Laurrell says overall, they are hearing positive feedback.
"Roughly 75 or 80 % of them were in support of additional local funding to offset some of those reductions," Laurrell said.
But there are still some, like Rustburg resident Jesse Pratt who are not so pleased.
"Not a big fan," said Pratt.
He says his kids are in private schools and he is already shelling out enough money.
"So to be paying more towards that when were not necessarily taking advantage of it is a little concerning," Pratt said.
"I certainly understand and sympathize with those people who have those feelings," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Johnson said.
Johnson says the students of Campbell County are everyone's responsibility.
"I understand completely that the economy has been very tough over the last several years but also recognize the importance of education," Johnson said.
Right now, Campbell County is one of only two localities in the region that do not have a meals tax. The towns of Altavista and Brookneal do have them in place. Laurrell says if the referendum passes, it will be pretty transparent to most folks.
"For a $10 meal, you're looking at 40 cents," Laurrell said.
If the referendum does not pass, the schools would be faced next year with either having to reduce expenditures an additional $1.5 million or coming back and asking the Board of Supervisors to consider raising local revenue from other sources.