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The real estate tax for the new town is lower, but residents will have to pay the county tax as well.
Courtesy of Bedford Bulletin
The new town of Bedford will still be responsible for providing fire protection and other public safety services to its residents.
Monday, July 1, 2013
From expanded borders to changes in tax and utility bills, Bedford city’s reversion to a town, effective today, will affect residents in lots of ways.
With the shift in government structure, the county now provides services that include public education, social services, tourism, building code enforcement, an electoral board, constitutional officers, libraries and emergency dispatching.
The town is responsible for urban services such as police and fire protection, zoning and planning, refuse collection and disposal, street maintenance and storm drainage and recreational facilities.
Here’s a quick look at some changes brought on by the reversion.
City residents were paying a real estate tax rate of 86 cents per $100 of assessed value. Now, they pay a town tax rate of 30 cents and the county rate of 50 cents; the added town real estate tax rate also applies to county residents in annexed territory.
The town’s meals tax is 5 percent of the sale and applies to about a dozen businesses in the annexed areas that were under the county’s 4 percent meals tax. A 30-cent cigarette tax applies in the town, which is aligning its tax year with the county. That means residents would pay tax bills twice a year, June 5 and Dec. 5, rather than quarterly.
The town is larger than the city by about 1.5 square miles. Eight pocket areas bordering city limits now are part of the town and consist of stretches east and west of the city limits on U.S. 460, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bypass area, the Harmony and Oakwood Villas residential developments and the vicinities of Liberty Lake Park, the Elks National Home and the city’s former landfill.
The Bedford Regional Water Authority now provides water and sewer to town residents. The entity is a merger between the Bedford County Public Service Authority, headquartered on Falling Creek Road, and the city’s water and sewer department. Residents will pay their water and sewer bills every two months rather than monthly. The town provides electricity to residents and businesses.
The Bedford Police Department will have two dozen sworn officers patrolling the town, the same as when it was a city, with nearly two additional square miles to cover. That will mean an anticipated 30 percent increase in call volume and likely will lead to longer response times, Chief Jim Day has said. The department no longer will provide a school resource officer at Bedford Middle School; the county will handle that. The officer who served that role is reassigned, Day said.
With the reversion, the city’s school district that contracted with Bedford County Schools for educational services ceases to exist; so does the city school board. Bedford Elementary School, which had been owned by the city, now is under county ownership. The county is leasing Bedford Middle School from the town while a new middle school is built; it is targeted for completion in the summer of 2016.
A city-county reversion agreement calls for the county to pay the town $11.5 million during a 15-year period in exchange of full ownership of the Bedford Central Library, Bedford Elementary and the Bedford Area Welcome Center.
The town will be served by an athletic association with oversight by county parks and recreation.
The town council will oversee the town’s governance. The public body has six members who served on city council and one newcomer, Robert Carson, who was elected in May.
The town is divided into two county election districts, District 6 and District 7. Supervisor Annie Pollard serves District 6 and Supervisor Tammy Parker serves District 7. School board member Kelly Harmony serves District 6 and Kevin Willis represents District 7.
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