Council to vote on tax exemption for disabled veterans

Published 10:32 am Monday, March 27, 2017

During its Monday meeting, Franklin’s City Council plans to vote on an ordinance that would exempt some disabled veterans from personal property taxes on a single motor vehicle. The ordinance, if passed, would allow veterans who are 100 percent disabled from a service-connected disability as certified by the Department of Veterans Services to qualify for the exemption.

The council had first discussed the issue during its March 13 meeting after a resident brought to their attention the fact that Isle of Wight and Southampton counties both had property tax exemptions for disabled veterans, but City of Franklin did not. According to the city’s commissioner of revenue, Brenda Rickman, who presented to the council during that meeting, the city’s current laws only permit disabled veterans to receive one free decal for a single vehicle and no exemptions for property taxes.

In 2011, the General Assembly amended the Code of Virginia to allow municipalities to exempt disabled veterans from personal property taxes using one of two criteria: either the 100 percent disabled standard or that standard plus four additional categories — loss of one or two legs, loss of a hand or blindness. The city’s proposed tax exemption ordinance restricts eligibility to the 100 percent disabled standard. The city also already grants an exemption from real estate taxes to veterans who are 100 percent disabled.

Also on the agenda for the evening is an amendment to the city’s agreement with the Department of Military Affairs concerning the National Guard armory on Armory Drive, in which the department requests that the city cede all responsibility for the facility’s maintenance to the department. The facility would also no longer be available for rent to the public. If approved, the amendment would take effect on July 1 this year.

The original deed and agreement between the department and the then-Town of Franklin, dated Dec. 24, 1952, conveyed five acres of land to the department for the construction of an armory with the provision that the town would have reasonable use of the armory for special events when not in use for military training, and specified that the town would be responsible for the facility’s maintenance.

In June of 1985 the agreement was modified when the department agreed to reimburse the city for 25 percent of its costs for routine maintenance and all costs for major repairs such as a boiler or roof. This first amendment also allowed the city to keep any rental receipts collected up to actual expenses for routine maintenance and operation.

The regular council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of city hall with a one-hour work session beginning at 6 p.m. to discuss fiscal year 2017-2018 budget requests.