Agape Center granted tax exempt status

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By John Barnhart

    The facility that the Agape Center uses in Moneta will receive tax exempt status. The supervisors voted unanimously, Monday night, to grant this.
    When County Attorney Carl Boggess presented the request to the supervisors, he noted that an important test for this status is that the organization gives back to the community more than the county loses in tax revenue. He said that the taxes on the building amount to $2,000 per year, but Agape clearly gives more than that back to the community.
    According to an Agape spokesman, the center serves between 1,100 and 1,300 people on a regular basis. The ministry supplies food, clothing and even furniture to people in need. It also has medical grants that it can use to help area residents. This fall the Agape Center supplied 450 children with their back-to-school needs. The Agape Center has no paid staff. All are volunteers.
    “I think it’s wonderful,” commented District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington.
    “It’s a great location for it,” said District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson.
    In other business Monday, the supervisors agreed unanimously to move $133,000 from the contingency fund to pay for upgrading county tax software. Interim County Administrator Frank Rogers said that this was needed, due to the city’s reversion to town status, so that the county can tax property in the town.
    There was also some discussion about personal property taxes on airplanes. District Supervisor Annie Pollard said a citizen called her telling her that he wanted to buy a $160,000 airplane, but will have to pay $4,000 in personal property tax on it if he keeps it in Bedford County. He said it will be much cheaper to keep it in another locality.
    Board Chairman Chuck Neudorfer, who said he had also been called by this person, said that he had talked to another pilot who told him that the cost of operating an aircraft is so high that the personal property tax amounts are an insignificant part of it. However this pilot’s plane is assessed at $7,000.
    On the one hand Pollard and District 4 Supervisor John Sharp suggested that the county needs to be competitive with neighboring counties — Sharp cited Roanoke County — on personal property tax on items such as aircraft, which can be easily kept in a neighboring locality.
    “We might be cutting off our nose to spite our face,” said Pollard.
    On the other hand, a lower tax rate for aircraft and boats may not be appreciated by residents  who are paying tax on a used car.
    “These are luxury items,” commented District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek. “If you can afford these, you can afford to pay the tax on them.”
    The supervisors referred this to the board’s tax committee.
    The supervisors meeting was preceded by a work session consisting of discussions of the zoning ordinance and a meeting with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) representatives.
    The supervisors agreed to remove the zoning ordinance’s corridor overlays, but keep a small list of the overlay’s restrictions, placing them in the appropriate sections of the ordinance.
    No decision was made on home occupations or signs. Further discussion of these items was delayed to another work session.
    “It’s never easy,” Neudorfer commented.    
    With VDOT representatives present, Pollard brought up the “S” curves in Montvale.
    “That section of the road needs to be fixed,” she said. “We’ve had three tanker wrecks.”
    Pollard said that VDOT had acquired the right of way necessary to straighten the curves 50 years ago.
    “I don’t know why it gets put off so much,” she commented.