GATE CITY — In his first visit to a Scott County Board of Supervisors meeting since February, Marty Williams repeated his previous message loud and clear: Businesses in Weber City need help.
Williams was referring to the ongoing bridge construction on Route 23 in Weber City and the burden it has placed on the nearby small businesses, including his own.
Williams, who owns Burgers R Us, has requested financial assistance from the county and recently asked for a property tax break for all the affected businesses.
What’s happened since February?
A few weeks after Williams addressed the BOS in February, he met with three members of VDOT and John Kilgore, director of the Scott County Economic Development Authority, in what Williams originally thought would be a one-on-one meeting.
“Through that meeting, most of it felt like it was a three-on-one,” Williams said. “I just kept getting excuses; I couldn’t get any real answers (on) my questions or the problems.”
The tax break
Shortly before the March BOS meeting, Williams asked BOS Chairman David Redwine if the county could waive property taxes for all Weber City businesses affected by the construction.
After discussing the matter with the county attorney, Redwine told Williams on Wednesday that such a tax break would not be possible under state law.
“We cannot pick out specific businesses and waive their property tax burden,” Redwine said. “We have done that for nonprofit organizations … that are doing construction or permit fees for various projects, but as far as property taxes, it’s outside the code of the state of Virginia for us to pick out specific businesses and grant them a waiver.”
Addressing Williams, Redwine added, “I regret to say that because I know that your business has been damaged down there, has been hurt from some of that, and we’re hopeful that that project will pass and be over and done with soon and things can get back to normal.”
Allan Sumpter, VDOT Wise residency administrator, was present at Wednesday’s meeting and said the bridge construction is now moving along at a faster pace.
He added that VDOT has tried to stay in communication with Williams and has worked to keep access to the business open during construction.
“We apologize if he felt like he was triple-teamed there (during the February meeting),” Sumpter said. “We just tried to have some folks there to try to work and see if we couldn’t collectively come up with some ideas to resolve the issues.”