The Tisbury board of assessors has reversed a decision to tax several town nonprofits, board chairman Angela Cywinski confirmed.

The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse and MVY Radio were both granted abatements at a meeting last week after a unanimous vote by the board, Ms. Cywinski said. The board also granted abatements this week to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard and the Center for Living after consulting with legal counsel. Island Grown Initiative will be granted an abatement as well following mediation at the appellate tax board, Ms. Cywinski said.

All the organizations had appealed a decision by the assessors to put them on the tax rolls late last year.

Ms. Cywinski said her board felt comfortable granting abatements to the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse and to MVY Radio after they learned more about the missions of the two organizations and their contributions to the town.

“We needed more information so as a board we could make a properly-formed decision,” she said.

Among other things she said she learned that the Shakespeare for the Masses free summer programming is organized through the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse.

“They provide that as a service in cooperation with the town,” Ms. Cywinski said.

Arnie Reisman, chairman of the playhouse board of directors, said the abatement came as a relief.

“That would have been a major chunk of money every year to take away from our operating budget,” he said. Playhouse director MJ Munafo said the organization expects a reimbursement of $3,769 for a payment made in February for the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. Mr. Reisman said the theater’s annual operating budget is about $650,000.

Ms. Cywinski said there were similarly clarifying talks with MVY Radio, the listener-supported radio station that rents a space in Vineyard Haven. Assessors had previously decided to tax MVY’s personal property.

MVY Radio executive director PJ Finn said he too was pleased with the decision, and felt it was a smooth process.

“We had a very pleasant sit down, and they asked some thoughtful questions,” he said. “It was good to get an opportunity to explain what we do.”

MVY Radio provides local news and information year-round. It also has educational and outreach programs. MVY stands to be refunded $1,435 from taxes paid in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal year 2019, according to business manager Marianna Cibulasova. Mr. Finn said the ruling has important significance beyond finances.

“I’m glad we’re getting the abatement. That was something that was really important to us because there was some concern that there would be confusion about our status as a nonprofit if the town made this decision,” he said. “We rely on donations because people know we’re a nonprofit, so to have that 100 per cent clear is almost more important to us than the money we’ll get back from the town.”

Ms. Cywinski said Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, originally denied tax exempt status due to a late application file, would be granted an abatement as well. She said assessors were initially under the impression they had no flexibility if an applicant misses the deadline, but town counsel informed the board that it can set a late file policy.

“We found out we’re allowed in a circumstance like Hospice to extend the deadline, but also give them a warning and come up with a grace period,” Ms. Cywinski said.

Reached by phone, Hospice executive director Tom Hallahan said one payment had been made of about $1,500.

“We are extremely grateful for them for making a local decision,” he said.

Ms. Cywinski said town counsel also confirmed that the Center for Living will no longer have to file paperwork for tax exemptions, because it provides a taxpayer-funded public service and is housed in a county building. The Center for Living has also been granted an abatement.

Island Grown Initiative has agreed to change its lease practices to qualify for exempt status, she said.

Ms. Cywinski clarified that the assessors decide who gets taxed and who is exempt at the local level, but they do not grant or take away nonprofit status.

“We can’t take away somebody’s nonprofit status. The federal government can. We’re on the local level,” she said.

Other nonprofits that were added to the tax rolls last year have also appealed. Ms. Cywinski said the board was awaiting an opinion from legal counsel on the Vineyard Haven Tennis Foundation. Sail Martha’s Vineyard has also gone to the appellate tax board. She said the board cannot consult legal counsel until an appeal is filed.

“I know some people feel the process was too encumbering, but it’s the process that we as a board had to follow by law,” she said.