WOODSTOCK – A church’s request for a tax exemption on a camp it runs in Shenandoah County spurred elected leaders to revisit the practice of granting such breaks.
The Board of Supervisors voted 4-2 at its meeting Thursday to approve a request from Shenandoah Meadows Inc. for an exemption from the local real estate tax. Vice Chairman John R. “Dick” Neese and Supervisors Steve Baker, Dennis Morris and Richard Walker voted in favor of the motion to grant the request. Supervisors Karl Roulston and Chairman Conrad Helsley voted against the motion.
The county assessed the camp property in Fort Valley at $705,500, which generated approximately $4,515 in real estate taxes in 2018, according to information provided by the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue. The camp joins a growing number of properties – owned by churches, government entities, schools and nonprofit organizations – exempt from paying real estate taxes.
State code gives supervisors the authority to consider and approve requests to exempt property from real estate taxes. The Shenandoah Meadows request prompted some board members to want to hold a more general discussion about the tax breaks, given that the county gives up millions of dollars in revenue it otherwise could collect.
Supervisors also voted to:
• Approve a request from the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office for $4,859 out of its federal asset sharing funds account to allow an agency employee to attend VMware VSphere certification for repairing and handling mobile software problems to ensure continuity for their mobile system.
• Approve re-appropriation of $173,145 in insurance proceeds received as a result of the claim for the Nov. 1 fire that damaged the Voter Registration Office.
• Approve a request from Director of Solid Waste Management Patrick Felling for an additional $1,615 in litter control funds not included in the budget.
• Approve an ordinance making changes to the county code section pertaining to fire, emergency medical services and emergency management. Part of the changes gives the chief of the county Department of Fire and Rescue supervisory authority over the volunteer companies.
• Enter into a law enforcement service agreement between the Sheriff’s Office and Toms Brook that renews the agency’s policing policies in the town through June 30, 2020. The agreement calls for Toms Brook to make payments to the county to offset some of the cost to provide law enforcement services.
• Approve a resolution to adopt the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Six-Year-Plan for Secondary Roads in the county and setting the related budget priorities for fiscal years 2020-2025. Pepper, Chapman Landing, Greenwalt and Polk roads will be added to the list of routes and prioritized in spring 2020. The roads were requested for hard-surfacing under the rural rustic secondary improvement program.
• Approve a request from the Parks and Recreation Department for $2,797 in additional funds to cover land-conservation efforts at the Mack and Zula Wagner Park.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story should have stated that Supervisor Richard Walker voted in favor of the motion to grant the church's request and Chairman Conrad Helsley voted against the motion.