The Washington County Board of Supervisors decided to not set a minimum limit for taxing short-term overnight rentals last Tuesday night.
In April, the board discussed not taxing overnight rentals that only operated a few days a year. County Attorney Lucy Phillips studied other localities but could not find one that had time limits, she said.
Setting up a minimum “could get crazy,” Commissioner of Revenue Mark Matney said during last Tuesday’s board meeting.
So far during this fiscal year, the county has collected about $160,000 in transient lodging occupancy tax, Matney said. Yet he figures the fiscal year could close with having collected as much as $175,000, noting that June is a busy month for overnight rentals.
“The transient occupancy tax, to me, is an important tax,” Matney said. “The person who owns the home does not pay the tax. They collect the tax.”
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Yet there has been a challenge in collecting all that is owed to the county.
“Abingdon has not been our friend in dealing with transient occupancy tax,” Matney said.
Matney said he sometimes has had to collect taxes paid to Abingdon that should have been paid to the county.
Many rental properties have Abingdon ZIP codes yet are actually in the county, Matney said.
“They are sending transient occupancy tax to Abingdon based on ZIP code. We’ve had to track down and get out money from the Town of Abingdon,” Matney said. “It has not been an easy fix.”
In other business, the Board of Supervisors approved giving $55,000 to the Mendota Trail Conservancy to continue work to complete the trail that is designed to travel more than 12 miles from Bristol, Virginia, to Mendota.
The money was provided by the board with hopes it would be repaid by a state grant that may not be announced until September, County Administrator Jason Berry said.
Due to the uncertainty of the state budget, however, there has been some concern that the contractor may leave for another job if the money is not available, Berry said.
Also during the meeting, Supervisor Charlie Hargis said the Confederate soldier monument that previously stood on the Washington County Courthouse lawn is now up behind the government center near Virginia Highlands Community College.
A dedication is scheduled for June 3 at 10 a.m., which coincides with the original dedication of the statue on June 3, 1908, when it originally stood at the center of Main Street at the Court Street intersection, Hargis said.
The controversial statue was moved from the courthouse lawn to make way for a courthouse expansion.
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