The Henrico County Board of Supervisors approved a series of emergency ordinances at its March 24 meeting aimed at ensuring the continuity of county government and supporting residents and businesses as the county confronts the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The ordinances were adopted without a public hearing, as permitted by state law. A public hearing is expected by May 23 to keep the ordinances in effect.
- An ordinance providing for the continuity of county government calls for the postponement of county board and commission meetings for up to six months. The ordinance does not prohibit a body from meeting but rather is intended to provide flexibility; a board or commission may decide to continue meeting. Henrico has more than a dozen such bodies — the Board of Supervisors, Economic Development Authority, Planning Commission, Library Board and others — that typically meet on a biweekly, monthly or quarterly schedule.
In addition, this ordinance would enable county boards and commissions to meet by electronic means. It also would allow for remote, electronic participation by residents and others in meetings through the submission of public comments by various technical means, such as email and web conferencing.
- An ordinance designed to support Henrico businesses offers temporary relief from penalties and interest on several taxes. Businesses will not be charged penalties or interest on late meals and hotel tax payments due between March 17 and Aug. 20, if the taxes are paid by Aug. 20 (monthly reporting is still required).
- A similar ordinance, intended to support county residents in addition to businesses, offers temporary relief from penalties and interest on late payments of 2020 personal property taxes, machinery and tools taxes and real estate taxes. Late payments of taxes due between June 5 and Aug. 5 will not be charged penalties or interest, if the taxes are paid by Aug. 5.
The ordinance also benefits county vehicle owners by extending the due date for the license tax from June 5 to Aug. 5.
In addition to approving the emergency ordinances, the Board of Supervisors advanced a separate ordinance that would increase the county’s threshold for business license taxes, also known as BPOL taxes, from $400,000 to $500,000. With the proposed threshold, businesses earning $500,000 or less annually would not pay the BPOL tax. Businesses making more than the threshold would deduct $500,000 from their earnings before paying the tax.
The proposed change is part of a multiyear effort by the county to raise the threshold for the BPOL tax. If the measure is adopted, approximately 500 additional county businesses would fall below the BPOL threshold. Finance Director Ned Smither noted that collections of the BPOL tax have increased over the period that the tax’s threshold has been raised.
The board set a public hearing on the BPOL ordinance for April 28.
Noting the board’s consideration and approval of the different measures, Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton said, “I hope it shows to the public that this stout county has heart, that it cares about its people…Henrico is a locality with a heart.”