Bedford leaders see post-reversion money savings

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Inside Bedford's town hall, money isn't causing as many headaches as it did a few years ago.

"It's a more stable situation," said Bedford Town Manager, Charles Kolakowski.

Since reverting from a city to a town in July of 2013, Bedford's unrestricted assets have grown from $2.5 million to $3.6 million.

"It has enabled us to plan for the future," Kolakowski said.

One example is the new Bedford Middle School, currently in the planning stages. Kolakowski says the project was needed for many years, but the old city government couldn't afford the construction costs.

Now that Bedford is a town, the county government is getting an additional $6 million annually in education funding from the state.

"We're talking about what kind of middle school we're going to build, rather than arguing about where to send the sixth graders because the current middle school isn't big enough," Kolakowski said.

Another change is the amount of money the town is spending. That number has dropped from $17.5 million before the reversion to $9 million now.

"I think it has certainly helped the town stabilize its finances," said Kolakowski.

Real estate taxes are also slightly lower. Residents pay a combined a combined town and county rate of .82 cents per $100 of assessed value. The old city rate was .86.

Some residents will see a tax increase in the next decade. Under the reversion agreement, dozens of county properties will become part of the town within the next seven years.

Those residents will be double taxed for the first time, but they'll also start receiving services like trash collection.

As for town leaders, Kolakowski says they're seeing more positives than negatives.

"Overall it has realized most of the goals that we set forth," said Kolakowski.