Town to Spend $100,000 on Welcome Sign Property

Town currently leases these seven empty lots from Bay Creek developer Richard Foster to display welcome sign at left (Wave photo)

Town currently leases these seven empty lots from Bay Creek developer Richard Foster to display “Welcome to Historic Cape Charles” sign at far left. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

March 17, 2014

Cape Charles Town Council agreed in a closed-door meeting March 10 to spend $100,000 to buy seven empty lots on the corner of Randolph Avenue and Fig Street owned by developer Richard “Dickie” Foster’s Bay Creek LLC. According to Town Manager Heather Arcos, “the general consensus was for the Town to move forward with the acquisition.”

The town has no immediate plans for the property, which displays a “Welcome to Historic Cape Charles” sign. The town’s Comprehensive Plan and VDOT’s 2020 Transportation Plan call for a traffic circle at the intersection of Randolph and Fig, according to Arcos.

No formal vote is allowed during closed meetings, so Town Council will officially vote to buy the property during its regular meeting Thursday, March 20. Although the decision has already been made, 3-minute public comments may be expressed at the meeting (6 p.m. Thursday at St. Charles Parish Fellowship Hall, 550 Tazewell Avenue). CLICK to read the memo and draft resolution.

The town has leased the seven lots from Foster since 2010 with first right of refusal should the property be offered for sale. A similar number of commercial lots on the other side of Randolph Avenue (not owned by Foster) have been for sale for more than 10 years.

The lots the town plans to buy are valued on County tax rolls at $50,000 each, for a total of $350,000. However, since the real estate bubble burst in 2008, vacant lots in the Town of Cape Charles typically have sold for only a fraction of their assessed value. [Read more…]


Town Council Plans 23% Increase in Lodging Tax

Cape Charles Wave

March 17, 2014

Cape Charles Town Council plans to raise the town’s lodging tax by 23 percent — only four years after enacting a 50 percent increase. That will bring the total lodging tax increase over four years to 85 percent (from 2 percent to 3.7 percent). If as expected the Council votes to go ahead with the tax increase at its Thursday, March 20, meeting, the next step will be to hold a public hearing in April.

In addition to the town tax, lodgers pay 5.3 percent state tax and 2 percent county tax. A state tax increase (from 5 percent to 5.3 percent) took effect in 2013. Combining town, county, and state rates, a lodger currently pays 10.3 percent tax. During discussion at a February budget retreat, Town Council members agreed it would be a good idea to “round off” the total tax amount and so have decided on a .7 percent increase – for a total lodging tax of 11 percent.

The idea to raise the lodging tax comes at a time of record receipts due to the town’s increased popularity for vacation rentals. In 2010 the town began contributing one-third of lodging tax receipts to the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission.  The contribution to the Tourism Commission grew from under $10,000 in FY 2011 to over $16,000 in FY 2013. Now the Town Council wants to “cap” contributions to the Tourism Commission rather than continue giving a full one-third. It then wants to use the increased funds available to support tourism-related endeavors such as the website “Cape Charles By the Bay.”

Northampton County was authorized by the Town to collect the transient occupancy tax under the Annexation Agreement of 1991. The agreement was that a 2 percent tax on town lodging was to be remitted to the county on a monthly basis. At the end of each year, the county was to return the full amount plus interest to the town for 10 years. After 10 years, the county would keep the 2 percent tax for its own purposes.

At some point both the county and the town began charging lodging tax, with increases over the years until the total town/county tax rate equaled the present 5 percent. According to town code, the county is still supposed to collect the full tax monthly, and then remit the amount above 2 percent back to the town. But in 2010 the then-town treasurer stated that during her tenure she had never received a remittance from the county. Current town records also fail to indicate that any lodging tax is being returned by the county to the town. [Read more…]


An Even Odder ‘Odd Couple’ Opens 3/21 at the Palace

JP Pare, Victor Abrahamian

Christie Iversen, JP Pare, Mellissa Stein, Victor Abrahamian

March 17, 2014

Unger and Madison are at it again! Florence Unger and Olive Madison, that is, in Neil Simon’s hilarious contemporary comic classic: the female version of “The Odd Couple” coming to the Historic Palace Theatre. Performances are Friday, March 21, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 22 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 23 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 adults and $5 students and are available at the box office immediately before performances.

Olive, like her original male counterpart, is divorced and living in cheerful chaos in her New York apartment. At Olive’s invitation, the suicidal Florence, newly separated from her husband, moves in and is soon finding comfort in cooking, cleaning and fussing until Olive is almost reduced to a nervous wreck. It becomes clear that the patterns of their disastrous marriages are already re-occurring.

Instead of the poker party that begins the original version, Ms. Madison has invited the girls over for an evening of Trivial Pursuit. The Pidgeon sisters have been replaced by the two Constanzuela brothers. But the hilarity remains the same. Taking the stage at the Palace Theatre for these performances are Fran Loper, Mellisa Stein, Joanne Dean, JP Pare, Christie Iversen, Victor Abrahamian, Susan Kovacs, and Sherri DeMarino.

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