9.3 – Consideration of Utilities
Citizens and property owners may wish to consider what would be the impact of town incorporation on their utility services. This includes electric power, telephone, and cable television services. It also includes water and sewerage services. A summary of this consideration is included in table below. Please refer to SECTION IV. Massanutten Community Infrastructure of this report for more details.
Currently, most property owners in the Massanutten community are provided with underground electric power service by Virginia Power, underground telephone service by Verizon, and underground cable television service by Comcast or Resort Cable. These utilities would be relatively unaffected by town incorporation with one exception. An incorporated town has greater legal authority to ensure the proper repair of town roads and right-of-ways after any construction work done by these utility companies. Additionally, MPOA and Great Eastern Resorts own and rent cell phone towers which are located in flag poles at various sites in the Massanutten Community. These cell phone services would be unaffected by town incorporation.
Currently, most property owners in the Massanutten Community are provided with water and sewerage services by Massanutten Pubic Service Corporation (MPSC). MPSC operations would be relatively unaffected by town incorporation with two exceptions. An incorporated town has more legal authority to ensure the proper repair of town roads and right-of-ways after any construction work done by MPSC. Additionally, MPSC has increased rates twice in a recent three year period, resulting in an overall rate increase of roughly 100%. MPSC rates are now more than two times that paid by Rockingham County property owners for a 5,000 gallon per month usage. MPOA had very limited success in preventing the rate hikes by MPSC, as filed with the VA State Corporation Commission (SCC). If Massanutten incorporated into a town, its elected Town Mayor and Town Council are government officials recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia to include the VA SCC. Undoubtedly, a duly elected Town Mayor and Town Council Members would have greater political success in preventing or limiting any future MPSC rate increases.
It is important to note that it is possible an incorporated town of Massanutten could choose to levy town consumer taxes on utilities. Consumer utility taxes were not considered in this report due to traceability considerations, but are normally levied by towns in combination with a commensurate reduction in real estate taxes. Levying consumer utility taxes allows an incorporated town to receive tax revenues from renters and town property owners, versus just solely from property owners.