Shenandoah County accepts property from sheriff

Shenandoah County leaders agreed this week to take six acres from the Sheriff’s Office once used in its undercover operations.

However, the Board of Supervisors does not yet have any plans for the property near Mount Jackson, according to County Administrator Mary T. Price.

Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass said officials had conducted no formal discussions about the use of the property.

Supervisors voted 6-0 at their meeting Tuesday to accept a deed of gift from Mountain View Wholesalers LLC for six acres at 317 and 537 Tisinger Road. The Sheriff’s Office had established Mountain View Wholesalers several years ago as part of its ongoing investigation into the illegal cigarette trade. The Sheriff’s Office has obtained millions of dollars in asset forfeiture funds through the undercover operation conducted with federal agencies.

Now the Sheriff’s Office is giving up properties bought by Mountain View Wholesalers and handing over the land and buildings to the county. A former Mountain View property in the north end of Woodstock likely will be the site of a new headquarters for the Sheriff’s Office and the county’s Emergency Communications Center.

While the sheriff intends to use asset forfeiture funds to cover the cost to design and build his future home, the county needs to fund the Emergency Communication Center on its own, along with the equipment to replace the existing system that is nearing its end of life. The county likely would need to borrow the money for the Emergency Communications Center projects by issuing bonds and paying off the debt over a period of years. It remains uncertain whether or not the county would ask voters to weigh in on the debt with a ballot referendum on a general obligation bond or if the Board of Supervisors intends to issue a moral obligation bond to borrow the money.

The county forfeits more than $4,200 in tax revenue by taking ownership of the Sheriff’s Office land on Tisinger Road. The latest reassessment valued the land and buildings at $667,200. Mountain View Wholesalers had bought the Tisinger Road property from the Mount Jackson Rescue Squad for $700,000 about eight years ago. Acceptance of the deed of gift also puts the county on the hook for maintenance and utility costs.

Also at the meeting, supervisors voted to:

  • Approve a contract with a facilitator to re-engage the fire-and-rescue planning process. The county plans to hire the Berkley Group for this purpose at the cost of $9,500.
  • Adopt a resolution supporting the application of two Virginia Department of Transportation proposed Smart Scale projects.
  • Approve the appropriation of additional state funds for Shenandoah County Public Schools. The division received an additional $224,532 in the state’s biennial budget for fiscal 2018-2020. The School Board has asked the county for an additional appropriation of $224,532 in its operational budget and plans to use the funds to hire a special education teacher, support staff and a supervisor in student career and business development.
  • Appointed Tim Taylor to serve on the Planning Commission.
  • Re-appointed Amber Dennison and Michelle Bixler to the Tourism Council.
  • Appointed R.G. Bauserman to the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Comprehensive Plan.

The board also met in closed session to discuss the performance and employment of specific county personnel and to consult with legal counsel regarding the Brice vs. Shenandoah County lawsuit.