By Brian Wheeler & Julia Glendening
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Bob Fenwick (I), candidate for Charlottesville City Council, held a press conference at his home on July 2, 2009 to share his three-part platform for promoting local job growth. Fenwick recommends encouraging people to buy homes, hiring people to operate and repair City infrastructure, and providing tax relief for new businesses.
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Fenwick is a general contractor and during his speech he empathized with workers in the construction business who cannot support themselves during the slow construction market. Fenwick encouraged first time home buyers to purchase a house during this favorable market.
“People will not find a better deal than now if they are looking to buy a house. Over the years many people have said ‘buy low, sell high.’ There is no better time to buy low than right now,” said Fenwick.
He also said people need to be made aware of an $8,000 federal tax credit for first time home buyers or for people who have not owned a home in the past three years. Fenwick said if he was on City Council he would publicize this opportunity as much as possible. He said if there is an increase in the number of homes bought, the job market would benefit due to the large number of trades that support a new homeowner and a real estate transaction. Fenwick itemized a list of over thirty such jobs on his website
Second, Fenwick said government needs to do its part to hire local unemployed people. “It’s time for City Hall to start working as hard as the citizens of Charlottesville,” said Fenwick. Fenwick highlighted one specific opportunity related to the Independence Day softball tournament.
“Each one of those parks has a concession stand and to this date, those concessions stands have been locked and shuttered. Now this is just an indication that nobody at City Hall is paying much attention, as a priority to what is happening to the people in Charlottesville. Those are 6 part time jobs that can go to somebody. That’s not a big step but it is a forward step, and that’s the kind of attitude we need from City Hall.”
Finally, Fenwick suggested a sales tax relief program in Charlottesville as an incentive for people to launch small businesses, and for customers to shop there, thus creating new jobs. Fenwick said the City should forgo the collection local sales taxes from any new business that opens before October 1st. Fenwick suggested the tax relief period would extend to December 31, 2009. The current 5% sales tax is divided between the state (4%) and local government (1%).
Interviewed by Charlottesville Tomorrow, City Attorney Craig Brown said Fenwick’s local sales tax holiday might face obstacles with respect to equal treatment for all businesses. “It would take an ordinance change by Council,” said Brown. “As a general proposition, state law requires taxes to be uniform.”
The Virginia Department of Taxation’s Ginny Slaughter told Charlottesville Tomorrow that any local sales tax holiday would have to apply to all businesses, not just new ones.
“Any locality that wants to remove the local tax may do so by ordinance, which becomes effective on the first day of a month at least 60 days after its adoption,” said Slaughter. “While localities may choose to impose or not impose the local sales tax by ordinance, if they choose to impose it, they must impose it across the board. In other words, they could not limit an exemption to only new businesses.”
Slaughter also said that every other locality in Virginia currently imposes the 1% local sales tax.
Fenwick is running against Paul Long (I), Dave Norris (D), and Kristin Szakos (D) in the November 3, 2009 City Council election. Andrew Williams (I) has also announced that he is running a write-in campaign for one of the two available seats on City Council.
See Charlottesville Tomorrow’s
Election Watch page
for complete coverage of the City’s 2009 elections.