Teen Challenge seeks tax break

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK – A church group that tackles drug addiction among teens may receive a financial break in Shenandoah County.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday held a public hearing on a request from the Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge for an exemption from local real estate and personal property taxes.

Teen Challenge owns and operates on property at 259 and 280 Sky Chalet Lane in Basye. Information from the county Commissioner of the Revenue Office, as indicated on the resolution for the request, shows that the real estate has an assessed value of $513,900. The county taxed the property in 2013 for $2,775.06. The personal property tax was $150.56.

No one spoke at the public hearing held on the request.

However, Maurertown resident Rex Ingram asked supervisors for more information about the organization. Acting County Administrator Mary Beth Price provided Ingram with pamphlets on Teen Challenge.

Board Chairman Conrad Helsley explained that a public hearing is not meant to serve as a question-and-answer period.

Board members made no comments after the hearing. The board may take action on the request at its Aug. 13 meeting.

Supervisors at an earlier meeting heard from a representative of Teen Challenge regarding its request for tax exemption. The board discussed the matter and agreed to hold the hearing. No one from Teen Challenge spoke at the hearing.

The proposed ordinance to grant the exemption states that the property, owned by the organization, is a 501C3 corporation “with the purpose of helping individuals with life-controlling issues.”

“This is a faith-based residential program that disciples to those who have been previously addicted to alcohol and drugs and restore the[m] back to living normal, productive lives,” the draft ordinance states.

The exemption created by the ordinance would apply only to real estate and personal property tax and would remain contingent on the use of the property as a residential program for individuals with life-controlling issues.

The ordinance, if adopted, would take effect for the tax year beginning Jan. 1.

Information on the Teen Challenge website indicates the organization moved from Harrisonburg in 2011 to the former Sky Chalet Mountain Top Lodge in Basye that overlooks Bryce Resort. Teen Challenge offers a 12 to 14 month religion-based program that tackles drug addiction for men or women age 18 or older.

Also at the meeting, supervisors:

  • Approved an easement with the Shenandoah Telephone Company. The county administration sought invitations to bid on a project to install fencing on the County Farm property. The bid included the removal of trees along Tea Berry Road. During the development of the bid the county discovered a buried telephone cable along Tea Berry Road. Shentel expressed an interest in replacing the buried cable in conjunction with the fence project. The county held a public hearing at a previous board meeting.
  • Approved a special-use permit requested by Richard L. Walker and David C. Walker to construct a two-family home on a half-acre lot on Hahns Lane near U.S. 11 in the Nellie Reger subdivision in Toms Brook. The home will be connected to public water and sewer. A residential entrance must be installed per the standards of the Virginia Department of Transportation and must receive the agency’s approval. The Planning Commission had recommended the board approve the permit. The commission and the board held a joint public hearing on the request June 6.
  • Appointed Betty Luse to serve on the Tourism Council
  • Approved a fund balance policy that sets guidelines on the use of unrestricted resources in the county’s reserves. Fund balance helps the county address unforeseen changes in revenue, unanticipated spending needs and emergencies, and serves as an indicator of the municipality’s economic health and credit.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com