Board OKs changes to tax relief rules

WOODSTOCK – Some Shenandoah County senior citizens and disabled residents can seek relief from property taxes under a local program.

The Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 on Tuesday to expand the tax relief program for qualified property owners. Changes take effect retroactively to Jan. 1. The board adopted the following changes to the ordinance that sets up the relief:
• Increase the income of relatives who live with property owners from $3,000 to $6,000.
• Move the application deadline from Jan. 31 to March 1 of each year.
• Raise the maximum amount exempted from $740 to $1,000.

The ordinance as amended also reflects the new income levels and percentage relief as follows:
• 1 cent to $18,000 – 100 percent
• $18,001 to $20,000 – 80 percent
• $20,001 to $22,000 – 70 percent
• $22,001 to $24,000 – 60 percent
• $24,001 to $26,000 – 50 percent
• $26,001 to $28,000 – 40 percent
• $28,001 to $30,000 – 30 percent
• $30,001 and more – no relief

Commissioner of Revenue Kathy Black has indicated that the fiscal 2016 budget assumes total tax relief of $200,939. Black estimates an additional $19,000 in relief based on applications filed in 2015. The commissioner said Tuesday that 276 people received relief in 2015 and 278 in 2014.

Supervisors reviewed the county ordinance at a work session in November and members debated the income limit of the relatives who live with property owners as well as the application deadline. No one spoke at the Jan. 12 public hearing held on the ordinance changes.

Vice Chairman Richard Walker said Tuesday before the vote on the matter that residents interested in an item up for a public hearing should contact supervisors ahead of time with their questions or concerns. The board would need to hold another public hearing if they wanted to make additional changes to the item after the first hearing, Walker explained.

Also at the meeting, the board:
• Discussed a request from Hottel Keller Memorial Inc. and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 9 for a special entertainment permit to hold “The Gathering” on May 21-22. The event is expected to attract approximately 2,000 people. Given the number of expected attendees, the application must go before the Board of Supervisors for its consideration. Chairman Conrad Helsley said the application would come before the board at its Feb. 23 meeting for possible action.
• Agreed to schedule a public hearing March 22 on a request by Shenandoah Meadows Inc. for an exemption from real estate tax.
• Met in closed session to discuss appointments to the Board of Building Code Appeals, Old Dominion Alcohol Safety Action Program and the Community Criminal Justice Board. Supervisors also met in closed session to receive legal advice concerning the County Farm property.
• Ratified a declaration of local emergency for the winter storm beginning Jan. 22 and approved the termination of the emergency Jan. 27

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or