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Board approves tax break

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK -- A nonprofit group in Edinburg received a tax break from Shenandoah County leaders this week.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 6-0 to approve a request by the Edinburg Heritage Foundation Inc. to exempt a building and land the organization owns at 106 High St. in the town from county real estate and personal property taxes.

Supervisor David Ferguson noted in his motion to approve the exemption that the property was formerly home to United Church of Christ. No supervisors commented on the request before the vote.

No one spoke at a public hearing supervisors held on the request Oct. 8. A representative of the foundation brought the request to the board at an earlier work session and noted that the organization had paid some taxes on the property.

The latest figures assess the property value at $284,800, which would generate $1,538 in real estate tax at the current rate, according to information provided by the county.

The county allows nonprofit groups to seek exemptions from real estate and personal property taxes. The board has the authority to approve or deny requests following a public hearing.

This marks the second property owned by a nonprofit group the board has exempted from local taxes in the past several months. Supervisors in August voted 3-2 to approve a request by the Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge to exempt property the nonprofit owns at 259 and 280 Sky Chalet Lane from local taxes. The county assessed the property at $513,900 with a real estate tax of $2,775.06 and $150 for personal property tax owed in 2013.

The board heard from a representative of Teen Challenge at a May 2 work session who described the organization's mission and the use of the property it bought this past March. The county held a public hearing on the request and then took action Aug. 13.

Chairman Conrad Helsley and Ferguson voted against granting the request. Ferguson said then he didn't feel the county should take the properties off the tax rolls. Ferguson, citing information from the organization, pointed out that the group provides services beyond the county.

Also at the meeting, supervisors:

  • Approved a resolution noting the county's intention to not participate in the Virginia Local Disability Program through the Virginia Retirement System. The county will use a program offered by VaCorp.
  • Approved a resolution to request $177,562 from the Virginia Department of Transportation on behalf of New Market through the agency's cost-sharing program to install a sidewalk along U.S. 211 East (West Lee Highway). VDOT rules in the program required that the county apply and spend the money. New Market administers the project and reimburses the county.
  • Approved a resolution recommending that VDOT add Friendship Court to the state's secondary system of highways as requested by homeowners. VDOT staff inspected the road and deemed that Friendship Court meets the acceptance standards. The road extends for less than one tenth of a mile.
  • Approved a request by the Sheriff's Office to transfer $13,525 from the asset forfeiture funds to the agency for the purchase of a trained, tracking dog and related expenses.
  • Approved a 20-foot easement along Landfill Road near Edinburg on property owned by Shenandoah County for Shenandoah Telephone Company to install fiber optic lines. No one spoke during the public hearing held on the issue Oct. 8. The lines will provide service to the county landfill offices and the animal shelter.
  • Directed staff to schedule a public hearing Nov. 26 on a resolution of support for a grant through the VDOT Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century program to help fund the Fisher's Hill Battlefield restoration. The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation submitted an application for up to $350,000, of which $70,000 is required as a 20-percent match from the organization. The project aims to bring together businesses and residents in the area of the county and Strasburg, as well as the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, through a network of trails and interpretive facilities.

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

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