BEDFORD, Va (WFXR) — On May 23, Bedford Town Council approved an ordinance that will expand the town’s boundaries by annexing part of Bedford County. This change will increase the town’s population by about 1,000 people. The ordinance passed with a 6 to 1 vote.
Many county residents met this decision with a lot of pushback.
“I just have one question…. why?” said one resident who attended the Town Council meeting on Tuesday.
This change means all those who are being annexed into the town will have to pay both town and county taxes, something county residents said they never agreed to. David Hardy is one citizen who spoke on behalf of his parents, about the negative financial impact this will have on residents.
“My dad is 88, my mother is 87. Their effective tax rate after equalization between the county and if the town annexes their property will go from 1,497 a year to 2,800.67 that’s an 87% increase, my parents live off of social security and a small state pension that’s provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Hardy.
The town said they will make improvements to the area being annexed, including sewer improvements, trash pickup, and access to town police. However, county residents emphasized that they did not ask for it.
“We do not want to be annexed,” said another resident who spoke at the town council meeting.
Bruce Hartwick was the only councilman to oppose this plan, he said, ten years ago when the plan was first put in place, nobody could have predicted the Covid-19 pandemic and other economic hardships many people are facing.
“When I hear about elderly people struggling, young people struggling to try to make it, it made it difficult for me to vote yes on that. Now, if the economy had still been great pre-Covid, it may have been a different story,” said Hartwick.
Hartwick said although he voted against this change, the entire town council will do everything in its power to make the transition smooth for residents.
“We’re going to do the best job that we can moving forward to try to ease the pain, try to make the people feel welcome here, try to make this town the best that we possibly can,” said Hartwick.
Bedford Mayor, Tim Black said he knew this decision would be met with a lot of backlash, but said he is confident that ultimately, this is going to be the best decision for the town.
The annexation goes into effect on July 1.