City Council on Thursday night voted unanimously to create a new, low tangible personal property tax rate specific to data processing centers. The new rate — 25 cents for every $100 of assessed value — is designed to attract centers to the city.
Vice Mayor Lee Vogler said the rate is the lowest in Virginia.
While acknowledging tax rates are only one of a number of factors that data centers consider when choosing a locality, Vogler said prior to the vote, “I can pretty much guarantee if we don’t take action on this tonight, Danville will never have a data center.”
Data centers typically look at factors such as cost of power, cost of construction, access to high-speed internet, and tax rates, among others. Danville already has one of the lowest real estate tax rates in the state.
The new rate will apply to computer equipment and peripherals used in a data center. The assessed value is determined by applying a depreciation schedule to arrive at the fair market value.
To qualify, a data center must house equipment used for the transformation, transmission, distribution or management of at least 20 megawatts of electrical power capacity. A 20-megawatt facility likely would have about $200 million worth of equipment and generate an average of about $218,000 in tax revenue annually over five years.
Virginia Beach and Henrico and Brunswick counties have rates of 40 cents per $100 of assessed value for data processing equipment.
Prior to last night’s action by City Council, a data center would have been taxed at the current rate for all other business personal property, which is $3.50 per $100 of assessed value.
In addition to adopting a new rate for data centers, City Council voted last night to:
- Accept a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to provide overtime pay for police officers for enforcement of safety belt and child safety seat violations.
- Accept a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to provide overtime pay for police officers for enforcement of speeding ordinances.
- Accept a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to provide overtime pay for police officers for enforcement of DUI laws, to conduct license checkpoints, and for saturation patrols.
- Appoint Jermaine Park and reappoint Constance Covington to the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
- Reappoint John Ranson and Robert P. Keesee to the River District Design Commission.
- Acknowledge receipt of and approve reports regarding delinquent and improperly assessed taxes as of June 30.
In addition to these votes, City Council held a first reading on two items involving the W.W. Moore Jr. Juvenile Detention Center:
- Acceptance of a federal grant of $62,867 to aid food service operations at the detention home.
- Acceptance of a federal grant and a local share to support the delivery of electronic monitoring and outreach detention programs and social skills services at the detention home.
A first reading is an introductory step required by City Code before certain matters can be voted upon by City Council. This procedural step serves to provide public notice of pending action. Council could not vote last night. The earliest vote that can take place will be the Oct. 16 City Council meeting.
Also in the business session, Mayor Alonzo Jones presented two proclamations: one declaring Sunday, Oct. 7, as “A Day of Action Against Hunger and Poverty;” and the other, declaring the month of October as “Domestic Violence Month.”
During the open communications segment of City Council’s business session, several citizens asked City Council to do more to help those affected by the flash flooding that occurred on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 22. That night, the Fire Department, along with the Danville Life Saving Crew and Danville Police, had many calls due to flash flooding.
Riverside Drive from Audubon Drive to Arnett Boulevard was closed due to flooding. The Life Saving Crew performed one water rescue with assistance from the fire and police departments. Several other people had to be assisted through the water on Riverside Drive. Woodall Chevrolet and the NAPA store had damage due to the flooding, with multiple cars damaged and flooding to the buildings.
In addition, Water Street in Danville had significant flooding, with one home that collapsed and significant damage to Mount Carmel Baptist Church. No injuries were reported, but the occupants were rescued by boat by the Fire Department and Life Saving Crew. The Red Cross assisted the occupants of the home.
One vehicle was fully submerged and three others were partially submerged on Timberlake Drive and Northmont Boulevard. No rescue was needed and no injuries were reported at this location.
Council's meeting included a business session followed by a work session. In work sessions, Council reviews non-routine matters that may be voted upon in future business meetings.
During last night’s work session, City Council discussed providing free bus services to polling places during the November election and scheduled votes for its Oct. 16 meeting on the following items:
- Approval of a franchise agreement with Comcast.
- Approval of an agreement with Comcast for educational and government access channels.
- Approval of a cost and revenue sharing agreement for the Staunton River Regional Industrial Facility Authority.
Last night, City Council also held a closed meeting in the work session as allowed by state law for discussion of a prospective business or industry and discussion of acquisition of real property or disposition of publicly held real property.