To Be or Not To Become an Incorporated Town?
The mere idea of becoming an incorporated town is simply what I call “A Feel-Good Idea.” When you study the process and understand what it will mean for businesses and residents alike, you will find that it provides no real solution to some of the problems at hand such as crowded schools, looming traffic congestion and a lack of affordable housing.
We should be equally upset with the fact that an Albemarle Planning Commissioner suggested that Crozet ought to become an incorporated town. This gives the perception that they have no desire to help solve the problem and would rather outsource the solution to others. Those comments should be an insult to all Crozetians.
If we decide to incorporate, it will be a long, costly and cumbersome legal process. One that we will regret before we are even incorporated. I sense that the process to accomplish this will take years. And in the end, there will be no immediate relief to the frustrations listed above. Additional problems will be created along the way—stakeholder relationships will deteriorate, and Crozet will isolate itself from the County.
However, the concept begs two important questions. First, what would a town budget look like? Second, how do we levy significant, additional taxes on residents and businesses without driving them away? I anticipate a town budget in the range of $15-$18 million per year. This assumption is based on the County’s projected population for Crozet of 13,000-17,000 residents.
It is also morally wrong to levy such an unnecessary and excessive tax burden on businesses and residents because of frustration due to past, present and future land development. If we incorporate as a town, we would box ourselves in with no other choice but to tax our way out. Could there be an added property tax on top of the County’s property tax? What about a local municipality tax on earned income? Increased tax on sales, meals and business licenses? Where does it stop?
When all is said and done, all we will have accomplished is overtaxing business to the point that they decide to leave. Next, we overtax residents to make up for the loss in revenue from businesses. Now residents leave and no one will move to Crozet. We will have done this to ourselves and have wasted millions of dollars along the way.
The Incorporated Town of Crozet then fails; The General Assembly revokes the Town Charter; We end up right back to where we are today and where we should remain…part of Albemarle County.
Marc W. McKenney