Supervisors say… Break on business licenses, Hedgerow not for horses

The Board of Supervisors are requesting a new entrance to the proposed Hedgerow Park. The Board of Supervisors are requesting a new entrance to the proposed Hedgerow Park.

Miss out on a week of Albemarle County happenings? On August 2 the Board of Supervisors voted to only require a business license for those making at least $25,000 a year, instead of the previous $5,000 threshold. They’ve requested a new entrance for the proposed Hedgerow Park, and will soon ask for public input on moving the county’s courts and offices into its own jurisdiction.

Small businesses rejoice—kind of

Jim Foley, Albemarle County’s director of transportation by day, has been an ice hockey official in his spare time for the past 15 years. He was surprised to receive a $100 bill from the county last year for business taxes dating back three years.

“I would’ve paid it every one of those previous years if I had gotten a bill,” he said at the August 2 supes meeting when the BOS raised the minimum gross receipts threshold from $5,000 to $25,000. Foley, who makes about $10,000 on the side every year, will no longer need a business license.

But Foley’s friend, Dave Canoles, an aviation consultant who has done expert witness work for plane crashes for a decade, was taxed six years back by the county.

“Requiring residents to pay retroactively for the past six years was a slap in the face to all of us who try to abide by the rules,” Canoles said at the meeting. He was charged about $1,000 in back fees, $350 of which was penalties and interest.

And in 2012, he says he was charged more than $350 for a $50 license because the county determined that he grossed more than $100,000 that year, though the Internal Revenue Service and state showed his adjusted income was $80,000.

“The department of finance seems to make up its own rules as they go along,” he said.

The county code says the director of finance can go back six years to collect business, professional and occupational licensing taxes if she determines a person has fraudulently failed or refused to obtain a proper license for any one or more of the past six license years.

Canoles says he didn’t obtain a business license because he doesn’t conduct any of his work in Albemarle County and didn’t know he needed one. “This whole experience caused me and others I know to lose respect for our county.”

Hedgerow Park entrance debated

The original proposed entryway to Hedgerow Park, the 340-acre property just south and west of the Interstate 64 and U.S. 29 interchange, sits to the south of the property on a private nine-foot road that leads to a private residence. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a road at least 24 feet wide for trucks pulling equestrian trailers, according to Blake Abplanalp, county chief of project management.

Supervisor Ann Mallek advocated against moving the entrance to accommodate trailers, which could cost an additional $1 million. Herself an equestrian enthusiast, she says “not every park needs to be for every use,” and that Preddy Creek Trail Park and Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park are great for riding horses.

“Anything you offer at this point, we’re going to be relieved,” said BOS Chair Diantha McKeel to county staff, which will continue researching other entrance options for the park. Hedgerow is scheduled for completion in May 2019.

Supervisors are asking county staff to find a new entrance to Hedgerow Park because the proposed one isn’t fit for trucks with trailers and is located in a floodplain.

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