The following email comment in response to this week’s “Crozet Should become a Town” post and discussion warranted a post of its own.
I’ve been reading your website recently regarding the discussion of Crozet becoming a Town. I want to make some points regarding law enforcement services if this were to occur.
In the Town of Crozet’s charter, there should be a provision to allow the Town to have a police force. While a charter may permit creation of a force, it does not have to require it. The Town would still be a part of Albemarle County and as a taxpayer, we are entitled to those law enforcement services. What the County does not have to do is assign personnel solely to Crozet which they do not do now anyway. In most county/town arrangements, the town citizen pays county AND town taxes, but the County taxes are reduced from the normal amount when you are in a town.
The proposed Town would have these (and maybe more) options when it comes to policing:
- Allow law enforcement to remain as it is today with personnel assigned to the Blue Ridge District, which covers the communities of Afton, Whitehall, Crozet, Ivy, Batesville, Southwood, Monticello, Keene, Woodridge, Scottsville, and Howardsville. My experience has been that with the growing population of Crozet, our county police department does a fantastic job providing law enforcement services. As a volunteer firefighter, we routinely work with ACPD and they are quick to arrive on scene with competent and well-equipped officers.
- Enter into a contract with Albemarle County to assign an agreed-upon number of ACPD officers to be assigned to the Town corporate limits. They would have jurisdiction countywide, but their primary responsibilities would be answering calls for service and patrol responsibilities in the Town. They are still ACPD officers driving the same cars and wearing the same uniform, but assigned to the Town. This comes with a cost.
- The Town could create its own police force. While this option gives the Town government the most control, it does not come without a price. This is the most costly of the options. Several things to consider when starting a brand new police force include, but are not limited to:
- Purchase/Lease a suitable facility
- Purchase/Lease vehicle(s)
- Equip vehicles and officers
- Salary/benefits of personnel
- Budget for operating expenses, training, capital improvements, etc.
- Liability insurance
- Civilian staff (recordkeeping, FOIA, other reporting duties)
- Determine if 24 hour coverage, or coverage supplemented by ACPD.
- Any annual training costs to belong to a regional academy
- Any annual costs for use of the jail.
- Any fines collected through traffic enforcement will go to the Town, by charter/Code/agreement.
Town items to consider:
- Water/Sewer not owned by Crozet.
- Schools are county-owned. Would we have to kick in funds toward those?
- Fire/Rescue is provided by Crozet VFD/Western Albemarle Rescue Squad/Albemarle County Fire/Rescue.
- We could collect taxes.
- We could control building permits and fees.
- Street maintenance, snow plowing, signage. When you become a town, does VDOT still handle?
I think what is driving this conversation is the over-development of Crozet. While I am not skilled in land use, if Crozet incorporated, could we then control the development? Would we have control over zoning/land use matters?
This is an important topic to discuss, but understand that incorporating does mean a town tax – just how much remains to be seen.
Thank you for allowing me to provide input.
Gary M. Dillon