8.6 – Frequently Asked Questions
An interim report on the feasibility of incorporating Massanutten into a town was published on a website in August 2010. It was available for review and comment for roughly nine (9) months prior to the start of final reporting. During that review period, the author received numerous questions about town incorporation. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) were answered and placed on the website. Some FAQs have been incorporated into the text of this final report. Other FAQs applicable to this section of the report are noted as follows for completeness of reporting:
FAQ: What if an incorporated town of Massanutten did not qualify, for some reason, for grants from VDOT for road maintenance? Does it still make sense to incorporate into a town?
Answer: This is one of the most frequently asked questions. And, it is the question that is most frequently misunderstood. Many people believe that if an incorporated town of Massanutten would not get VDOT funds, it does not make any sense to incorporate Massanutten into a town. This is not necessarily true.
Currently, MPOA property owners largely fund the maintenance of Massanutten Village roads. Seventy percent (70%) of MPOA expenditures for essential services in 2009 came from MPOA assessment fees, 25% came from net revenues of the commercial ventures, and only 5% came from Great Eastern Resorts. Yet, more than 55% of the vehicles entering into Massanutten Village in 2009 were visitors who largely patronize Great Eastern Resorts businesses. Incorporating Massanutten into a town allows the cost burden for essential services like road maintenance to be shared more fairly amongst property owners, citizens, businesses, and visitors. Alternative T4 would look like the following if zero VDOT funding was acquired — so, let’s call this Alternative T4b:
T4b — Required Town Services (RTS), Road Maintenance* (RM*) and Law Enforcement (LE)
This alternative is an incorporated town of Massanutten that provides its citizens with the services of comprehensive planning and zoning, as required by the VA Code of Law. Additionally, the town would provide its citizens with maintenance services for all qualifying town roads and maintenance services for all town parks, including those in Massanutten Village. Furthermore, the town would also provide all town citizens with law enforcement services. It was determined that all of these services can be readily paid for by levying town vehicle license, food & beverage, and transient occupancy taxes along with levying town real estate taxes on residential and business properties plus levying taxes on all businesses, professionals, and occupations licenses (known as a BPOL tax). This alternative assumes that absolutely no VDOT funding for road maintenance is available for an incorporated town of Massanutten.
- Town Vehicle License Tax = $20 per vehicle per year. This tax is currently being paid by all vehicle owners in Massanutten to Rockingham County. The town tax is in lieu of the county tax.
- Food & Beverage Tax = 10%. This tax is currently being levied by Rockingham County, albeit at 4%, to all patrons of businesses in Massanutten. The town tax is in lieu of the county tax. It should be noted that many towns in VA charge this tax at a rate of 10% including Elkton.
- Transient Occupancy Tax = 10%. This tax is currently being levied by Rockingham County, albeit at 2%, to all patrons to establishments in Massanutten. The town tax is in lieu of the county tax. It should be noted that many towns in VA charge this tax at a rate of 10%.
- Town Real Estate Tax = 10% per $100 of assessed property value. This tax is currently being levied by Rockingham County, albeit at a rate of $0.60 per $100 of assessed property value. The assessed property value is established by the County Commissioner of Revenues. The town tax is in addition to the county tax.
- Town BPOL Tax = TBD of gross revenues. The rate of this town tax will be determined by a Town Council such that the town tax revenues will equal roughly $80,000. Rockingham County does not levy this BPOL tax. However, most towns in Rockingham County levy this BPOL tax resulting in commensurate revenues.
Essentially, the progressive town real estate tax is levied, in lieu of the fixed MPOA assessment fee per lot. There would be no MPOA assessment fee in this alternative and 74% of Massanutten Village property owners would save at least $150 per year for each property (lot) in Massanutten Village. The total town revenues for this town alternative would still be $2,348,750 per year.
This example demonstrates that it still may make sense for Massanutten to incorporate into a town, even if the town did not get any funding grants from VDOT. Not only would Massanutten citizens take control over comprehensive planning and zoning from the county, but it would also allow the town to balance the cost burden of essential services. In this example, property owners and citizens would pay for 43% of the cost of essential services. Businesses and visitors would pay for 57%. This more closely reflects the 45% and 55% contribution, respectively, of vehicles entering into Massanutten Village. Overall, 74% of MPOA property owners would save at least $150 per year for each property (lot) in Massanutten Village. And, VDOT would still NOT remove any snow in the wintertime — the snow would be removed most likely by the same crews that do it now for MPOA.