Should Crozet become a town?

Cvillenews asks the question today. I’ve pondered doing a story about incorporation but want to research it (and try to get some UVA law students to help). There are a couple of reasons that Crozet doesn’t incorporate, and three of those are that

1) We’d have to pay separate taxes to the town
2) We’d have to hire our own police force with said taxes
3) Everybody wants everything but doesn’t want to pay for it.

Maybe we can talk about it this evening at tonight’s Town Meeting at Western Albemarle High School. The fun starts at 7 and (is scheduled to) ends at 9.

The town meeting will also serve as the kick-off for the Downtown Crozet Streetscape Project Phase 2, which will focus on pedestrian-friendly improvements like sidewalks, landscaping, and lighting along Crozet Avenue to Tabor Street and will begin construction of New Main Street to provide access to the new Crozet library.

As always, learn more here.

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6 Replies to “Should Crozet become a town?”

  1. Jim,

    I like how you’ve laid out the concerns. Here are my responses (I don’t live in Crozet, but I think it’s beautiful and should be protected):

    1. Yes, but they could be better taxes. For example, the town could put a sprawl tax exclusively on land to encourage the best use of land and preserve rural land surrounding. I’ve also been thinking that congestion pricing might be necessary/beneficial on 250 if traffic continues to get worse. What’s your sense on that?

    2. Yes, or work out an agreement with the county to pay for their police coverage. That might be a good intermediate step.

    3. That’s true to an extent, but most people will agree that everyone should pay their fair share. Everyone benefits from schools, and good schools raise land values. Taxing land to pay for schools is just paying your fair share. I see the problems in Crozet largely arising from a feeling that Crozet is or is not paying/getting its fair share.

    I don’t know that Crozet has the civic strength to pull it off, but they could make Crozet a model of a great community. This is what the Crozet Master Plan tried to do and there seemed to be agreement over the basic principles of that plan.

    What I wonder though, is whether it’s possible to achieve the goals of the Crozet Master Plan as part of the County. How could that happen?

  2. I don’t live in Crozet. But I’ve always thought that it should be a town.

    Being a Town doesn’t mean additional taxes though. It just means that some of those taxes get paid to a different governmental organization. Scottsville has a Town Auto Decal which replaces the county of albemarle decal. The fee for that decal is deducted from the amount you’d pay the county for your personal property taxes. There is also a monthly fee ($18) for weekly garbage collection.

    The Town Council is elected from residents living within town limits and is are unpaid volunteer positions. There are many of the same boards and commissions that you would find in the city and county governments (zoning and planning for example) and those too are volunteer participants.

    The town does have to pay for its own police force, and the Fire and Rescue is Volunteer. But I think the County of Albemarle provides some sorts of “reimburstments” to the town for operating expenses.

    The benefit is that as a Town there is a buffer between Town Residents and the BoS. Because it was a Town Scottsville had the ability to say no to a developers request to rezone a tract of land within town limits to allow for higher density. Something that probably wouldn’t have happened had it been left up to the Albemarle County BoS.

  3. As an added bit of information for Crozetians contemplating Town Status and the “additional taxes” that everyone seems to think inherent in Crozet becoming a town I found this in the Town of Scottsville’s Comprehensive Plan (pdf):

    Scottsville, like other incorporated towns in the Commonwealth of Virginia, remains a part of its host county – in Scottsville’s case, two counties: Albemarle and Fluvanna. The portion to the northwest of the Albemarle/Fluvanna County boundary line, wholly within Albemarle County, comprises approximately 961 acres and 536 residents; the portion to the southeast of the Albemarle/Fluvanna County line that lies within Fluvanna County includes approximately 18 acres and 19 residents.

    Scottsville property owners, residents, and business owners pay real estate and property taxes to that county in which their property lies at the tax rate charged throughout their respective counties. For their part, the counties are obliged to provide to Scottsville residents and property owners the same level of service provided to other county residents and property owners, including primary and secondary education, police protection (supplemental to the Town’s Police Department), fire and rescue protection, social services, library services, park and recreational services, and the like.

    The Code of Virginia also permits towns to collect both real estate and property taxes. Although this authorization provides a potential additional source of revenues, Scottsville ceased collecting these taxes once the boundary adjustment took effect on January 1, 1994. Scottsville derives most of its revenues from utility taxes, meals tax, business license taxes, bank franchise tax, locality share of sales taxes collected by the state, transient occupancy tax, and the sale of automobile decals to residents. These are taxes that would otherwise be collected by Albemarle County and Fluvanna County; therefore, collection of these taxes by the Town imposes no added tax burden on the taxpayers of Scottsville. Currently, Scottsville taxpayers enjoy the benefits of having their own local government without having to pay any additional taxes.

  4. Lyle and ScottsvilleResident:

    Thank you so much for the information. I think that this idea certainly warrants consideration from the residents of Crozet as well as the local representatives.

    I wonder what David Wyant and Ann Mallek think about this idea.

    Congestion pricing is an interesting concept, and I have long advocated use taxes for roads.

    Regarding peoples’ desire to pay their “fair share” – I don’t trust either the people to take a stand or the government to use our money wisely. This is a difficult cycle, but one that will have to be addressed sufficiently in order for change to happen. We’ll see … Unfortunately, I think that the leaders will have to lead first, as the people generally are too apathetic to effect change.

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