If Crozet Became a Town – What Might its Budget Look Like?

I’m advocating nothing here, other than for discussion and conversation.

Easy questions about “if Crozet became a town”?
  • Would you be willing to pay more in taxes to have more control over the future of Crozet?
  • Would yet another layer of bureaucracy be a good thing?
  • How is being a town working out for Scottsville?
A big question

@realcrozetva what additional services would you want for your town taxes?

A Budget from a friend

Here is a link to what a Crozet budget would look like if incorporated from a very well run Town that is comparable in community feel and size.

ACSA would provide the water and sewer, so the budget would be around $5mm per year, and provide police services in the Town. Of that, 40% is streets, much of which is funded via VDOT cost sharing.

Police is $850K annually, parks and rec around $600K. They have really nice baseball/softball facilities and parks. On par with what Crozet would provide.

The pie chart on the last page is instructive.

Added tax rate is 9 cents per hundred on Real Estate in the Town.

BUDGET.NEWSLETTER.FY2016.pdf

Town status could be a Pandora’s box for either side of the argument, depending upon who would be elected, but I do think Crozet would benefit from Town status and to be able to more closely control and direct its own policies, decisions and land use outcomes.

In response to my inquiry as to if he knew any other localities that successfully sought and achieved town status –  (bolding mine)

There was a movement at Massanutten to seek Town status, but that was an anti-growth movement and there is no “town” there apart from the Resort who is opposed.

I think it would be relatively easy to define the Town boundary – just take the existing Comp Plan boundaries and survey it. The actual steps to seek Town status at the General Assembly do not appear daunting, but that excludes the County/State politics discussion.

Bridgewater is a great example to use as it is in a similar place as the premier bedroom community to a major public university town. Full of parks and town pride and a perfect family community, but really lacking the ability to attract new major employers despite the quality of life.

“Really lacking the ability to attract new employers” … or in Crozet’s/Albemarle’s case, the desire/will to do so.

See this.

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14 Replies to “If Crozet Became a Town – What Might its Budget Look Like?”

  1. Our costs should be less. We should not have to pay taxes to Albemarle County if we’re not part of it. If Crozet is efficient, we can run our own for much less than the bloated Albemarle County budget

    1. Really, so you would do without schools, Fire, Rescue and a bunch
      of other stuff? Crozet would not be another country just a
      town within Albemarle County. Just think, you could build as
      many municipal buildings, sidewalks, and bike lanes as you are
      willing to pay for. An elected town council and mayor would
      actually be one of the best benefits…

  2. From an email commenter:

    “More taxes? The answer depends on how much more, but I’m not opposed to paying taxes to support a town.

    The question is poorly phrased, suggesting a negative answer. I think town “bureaucracy,” if you insist, would be more responsive to ultra-local concerns, e.g. a marked cross walk under the RR trestle.”

  3. County budget costs about $6000 per household to operate. About $3500 comes directly from household estate and personal property taxes, the other $2500 comes from indirect sources (sales, meals, commercial, etc). Let’s assume that it costs about the same in Crozet to operate (you’d have to provide the same quality of life, presumably). It probably would be more because you are less efficient operating on a small scale. But either way, let’s assume it’s the same.

    There is little to no commercial activity in Crozet area, so let’s be conservative and say that you could only get $1500 in indirect taxes, which leaves a $1000 deficit from your $2500 need.

    If you were to increase direct real estate taxes from $3500 to $4500 to cover the deficit, that’d be about a 28% increase in taxes to cover the operating cost of Crozet as a town. I wonder how people would respond to that.

    Maybe you could get transfer payments from Albemarle, but that’s doubtful.

    Certainly rough calculations, but something to think about.

  4. Another great email commenter: (line breaks added by me)

    Despite your disclaimer regarding being a “neutral” arbiter, that claim is clearly false. I do appreciate you’re work and time to establish this “Real Crozet” forum but it is a part of your business plan as a realtor.

    Also as a realtor, pursuit of continued aggressive growth on the part of community leaders is “good for business”.

    I’m less sure it’s all that good for Crozet. You present ONLY arguments that tout the benefits of incorporating. It would be a very mixed bag. Look at the recent discord regarding raising the county millage rate less than .03/hundred, for arguably one of the most critical functions of community, education of our children They will be the ones to care for us in our elderly decrepitude.

    This proposal would increase the rate by .09/hundred or $225 for a $250,000 home. What do we get for our money? Another layer of politicians deciding how to spend our money and expecting to get paid for it, duplication of services already provided by the county and increasing government’s presence and regulations.

    What is the broken function that a new layer of government will fix? I’m not a small government, “tea party” type. If the current county system is found lacking in some way lets work to improve what we already have and not introduce another competing entity to further complicate things.

    1. 1 – Great comment.
      2 – I’m going to take issue with the first two statements. The goal for RealCrozetVA has not changed since day one:

      “I am starting this blog somewhat on a whim, so as to provide a forum for Crozet to (hopefully) discuss their thoughts about Crozet’s growth.”

      http://www.realcrozetva.com/2005/09/13/this-blog/

      I never started this blog as part of a business plan; I did it (and do it) for the community of Crozet. Period. If I get business from it, so be it.

      Same with donating to Crozet charities. Do I do that for the business generated? Nope. I do it because it’s a good thing to do. Does increased awareness lead to new business? Maybe, but I’ve found that doing the right thing because it’s the right thing is a good way to live, and does sometimes lead to business. I guess.

      Growth

      “Also as a realtor, pursuit of continued aggressive growth on the part of community leaders is “good for business”.”

      Again, nope. Pursuit of a great community is my goal. Good growth is part of that health. Destructive growth is bad.

      Paving over the proverbial paradise is bad.

      First and foremost, I live here. My kids have been raised here. I love Crozet and want it to continue to be a great place to live. If we build out and away the character and community that make Crozet a special place, that’s not good, and it’s certainly not good for business.

      Yeah, the real estate lobbies tend to be anti-any growth restrictions, but the National Association of Realtors happens to have a tremendous resource in their Smart Growth program –
      http://www.realtor.org/topics/Smart-Growth

      When I say “smart growth” I don’t mean the bastardized & politicized “smart growth,” I mean “intelligent, thoughtful, and healthy growth.”

      1. Building more Tract Housing without jobs is smart growth?
        Something is not matching up. If I want to walk somewhere
        I don’t ask for someone to build me a sidewalk. Same for a bike or anything else. If you love Crozet, yet you want an urbanized Crozet?? The two are not compatible and once gone there you cannot go back. You cannot love something you constantly want to change. Does not work with Humans either. Where is the Healthy Growth in Crozet?? That has a chance of being a real discussion…

        1. I agree with this:

          “Building more Tract Housing without jobs is smart growth?”

          Nope. The County need to do a better job of attracting businesses and need to tell/direct the Community Advisory Committees to do the same.

          Regarding sidewalks –

          If you lived in the Highlands, you’d want a sidewalk. Same with Wickham Pond, Western Ridge, Foothills, Beaver Creek …

          1. Tract housing is just not a good example. Or, are you saying that people who migrate to these places need sidewalks? Where is the healthy growth in Crozet?
            Also, We have had chances at balanced growth but,
            nothing was done to encourage the jobs to come while
            only the negatives were highlighted by people with their own interests. You seem to like to straddle the fence on most issues but, at least you believe in freedom of speech. You run a fair outlet for conversation and if you somehow benefit from it,
            Good for you…

  5. Jim,
    Thanks for posting my comment. I apologize for being unduly harsh in my description of your motivations regarding your establishing this “Real Crozet” site. I didn’t mean to say or even imply that your only or even primary motivation is business or marketing. Whether you seek to provide a community service and happen to benefit in your business or have as your primary goal a business presence and the community benefits by default matters little to me. Though I do believe your primary goal is community building, it’s a moot point since the community benefits by your efforts either way, and for that I thank you.

  6. I’m originally from New England, which has a town government system – there is no county government. While I loved the unique identity of each small town, it is a very inefficient way to do government business. Each town has its own bureaucracy – schools, police, fire & rescue, waste, roads – and the local taxes have to support it. If your town is rural, then taxes are on the backs of home and landowners. What I love about living in Crozet is that I can live in a rural setting yet get the benefit (from a tax standpoint) of all the commercial activity in the urban ring around Charlottesville and on 29 North. It seems that Scottsville has some sort of hybrid – their own police force, but Albemarle County Schools. I personally don’t see the benefit to Crozet to incorporate as its own entity, although I can appreciate the attraction of self-government. Citizen involvement and pressure on County staff and the BOS by those involved citizens should keep us going in the right direction. Show up to CCAC and CCA meetings, plus Planning Commission and BOS meetings and make your voices heard!

  7. Great comment from an email commenter:

    I moved here last summer from the Santa Barbara, CA area. I saw one of your posts a couple of weeks ago about becoming a township and was surprised to know that Crozet was not. The “suburb” of Santa Barbara that I lived in was an unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County and had the same problem with the County approving development that the community didn’t want as well as inadequate services. 15ish years ago the residents voted to incorporate and since then things have gotten better and better despite dire warnings of disaster. The city is Goleta, CA. I believe this would be a very good thing for Crozet given recent county decisions. Is this still a potential idea?

  8. Staunton, Virginia is an interesting and close-by model. It became a city in 1801, when its population reached about 10,000. Staunton is the birthplace of the city manager form of government, now adopted nationally as one of the preferred forms of municipal government. The change was preceded by a period of rapid growth. At that time, infrastructure improvements undertaken by the County were deemed insufficient. In my mind, schools would be a real challenge for Crozet. What is the population projection of Crozet area for next 10 years? Well over 20K? I’d love to know if anyone has figures. It was only 5.5 K in the last decennial census.

  9. My family moved here from Decatur, GA, a close-by suburb of Atlanta. Well, it was Decatur in the sense that the town’s name was in our address. In reality, we lived in the awful no-man’s land of unincorporated Dekalb County. County services were terrible (especially the schools, police, and animal shelters), and the government was- and remains- incredibly corrupt.

    There was a segment of the population who worked FOR YEARS to try and persuade either the city of Decatur, or the city of Avondale Estates, to allow us to become part of them. Full disclosure: my husband and I were in favor of incorporation. I won’t bore you with how awful some of our experiences were, and how hard it could be to accomplish basic things… but it was.

    When our son was born, we knew that we couldn’t stay in Atlanta. We were fortunate enough to have the means skills-wise to relocate to VA (we both work for area universities), and we deliberately chose Crozet for our new home. We did so because of the excellent schools, the pedestrian-friendly roads, the library, the beautiful setting, the YMCA, and to be incredibly frank, Mudhouse and Fardowners- I guess that list tells you something about our priorities 🙂

    We’ve become somewhat alarmed as we’ve learned more about the rapid growth, particularly in regard to the housing developments/lack of jobs ratio because we can’t help but think what it was like living in Dekalb County, a place where we had no voice in what happened to us.

    Though my husband and I are FAR happier with Albemarle County than Dekalb, I at least believe that its priority is the county itself: Crozet is just one more town to county government. All of us live here and, it seems based on the results of the survey that was conducted a few years ago, that the majority of us (at least the ones who responded to it) want the same things: to maintain Crozet’s small-town atmosphere, quirky charm, to be pedestrian- and bike-friendly, and to participate in smart growth (we could argue what that means all day long, I suppose).

    In closing (this became much longer than I intended), my husband and I have been asking why Crozet hasn’t become a town already. It just makes sense that those of us who live here (and yes, I know that many of us are Johnny-come-latelys) would be the most invested in what happens here. Crozet isn’t just another town to us as it is to the County government; it’s our home. We’d be willing to pay more taxes because ALL of that money would stay here in Crozet to support ALL Crozetians, and we’d (all of us) have more control over our own destiny.

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