Bill would remove tax exemptions

STEPHENS CITY — A bill in the Virginia General Assembly threatens to eliminate the tax exemption status of several nonprofits in Frederick County.

House Bill 2165 would repeal the property tax exemption in Frederick County for the following 501c3 nonprofit organizations: the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the Nature Conservancy, The People-to-People Health Foundation Inc., Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Inc., Frederick United Methodist Housing Development, Northern Shenandoah Valley Association for Retarded, Northwestern Workshop Inc., Robert E. Rose Memorial Foundation Inc., Shalom Et Benedictus Inc., Shenandoah Valley Community Residences Inc., Special Love Inc., the National Wildlife Federation, The Stone House Foundation, Wayside Foundation for the Arts Inc., Wayside Museum of American History and Arts, Winchester Chapter of The Izaak Walton League of America, Westminster-Canterbury of Winchester Inc. and the Windy Hill Foundation.

Although the bill has “been in the hopper” since November, many local representatives including Stephens City Town Attorney David Griffin have just recently discovered the bill’s existence. Griffin said he learned of the bill a week ago.

He said the legislation that granted the above mentioned organizations tax exempt status was passed by the Virginia General Assembly 30 to 50 years ago, so it’s unusual that their statuses are now being repealed.

“In the 27 years I’ve represented Stephens City, this is the first time they’ve ever passed a resolution opposing a piece of legislation from the General Assembly,” Griffin said.

Some of the nonprofits on the list, such as the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Nature Conservancy, span several states. Griffin said the bill would remove their property tax exemptions only in Frederick County.

“To carve it out for Frederick County only is bizarre,” he said. “It’s kind of like saying the Red Cross is a charitable organization except in Frederick County.”

Stephens City Town Council approved a resolution to oppose House Bill 2165 at its meeting on Tuesday. Griffin said the bill remains on the table at the general assembly and hopefully will be defeated with enough opposition.

Griffin, who also serves as the town attorney for Middletown, said he has been asked to draft a resolution for that town as well.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com