Gloucester County improperly using extra sales tax, Virginia attorney general says

Gloucester

GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia’s attorney general has concluded that Gloucester County is not using an extra percent of sales tax the way they are supposed to.

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In an opinion released Tuesday, Mark Herring wrote that the extra cent of sales tax approved last fall is to be used to fund new construction or major renovations of Gloucester’s public schools.

It is not to be used for “debt mitigation.”

Earlier this year, that is what the board of supervisors voted to do.

“The AG’s opinion reflects the intent of the legislation as drafted by Delegate Hodges and myself,” said State Sen. Tommy Norment, (R-James City County).

The 5-2 vote in April only further solidified the divide that had formed between some board members, the school board, state leaders and some of the community over the issue of how an estimated annual $5 million in new sales tax revenues should be spent.

The budget recommended by County Administrator Brent Fedors and approved by the board increased the county sales tax by 1% on July 1 and uses the majority of the new revenue to pay down the debt of school projects already completed.

Gloucester’s school superintendent, school board chair, and local education advocates contend it is not what 62% of voters in the county approved the tax hike for. They say the money is meant to help complete projects in the planning stages.

The school board chair says she’s pleased by the opinion. 

“We are pleased with the Attorney General’s opinion and look forward to future productive conversations with the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors,” Robin Rice, Chair, Gloucester County School Board.

The board is expected to go into a closed session to discuss the opinion early next month.

“The Gloucester County Board of Supervisors was made aware of the letter and will be discussing it during a closed session at its January 4th meeting,” said Quinton B. Sheppard, public information and marketing Coordinator.

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