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County taxes must be paid on land purchased for future animal shelter

During their April meeting, members of the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Board learned their application for property tax exemption for the new shelter site had been denied.
According to the March 18 letter from Emily Bennett, attorney for the State Board of Equalization, the denial is due to non-qualification.
Rather than the future or intended use of the 6.6 acres on North Roan Street, which were purchased as the site for a new animal shelter, the current and active use of the property was considered for approval.
Because the site is vacant, unused and being held primarily for future use and development, the 2012 property taxes must be paid.
Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs said the Sells family, from whom the property was purchased, paid the first quarter of property taxes after selling the land to the ACB.
When Dobbs submitted the application to the Board of Equalization for exemption of the remainder, she was told it would take six to nine months before she had an answer. She was unaware the lack of a facility on the site would play a role in the decision, she said.
In January, ACB members voted to pay the $2,800 in property taxes due to the City of Johnson City. During last week’s meeting, they approved payment of the $3,500 balance to Washington County, to be paid out of the project’s building fund.
While some ideas were tossed out regarding setting up a temporary structure that could be used as an office for the fundraising campaign, Dobbs said she had no idea if that would meet the qualifications for exemption.
The Board of Equalization directed the ACB to apply for the property tax exemption again when use of the property begins.