Town Incorporation of Massanutten

Town of Massanutten Essential Services

Currently, Rockingham County provides the majority of essential services for the Massanutten Community. These include education, court, voter registration, property assessment, building inspection, fire & rescue, health, and social services. If Massanutten incorporated into a town, the County would continue to provide many of these same essential services. Currently, Rockingham County also provides comprehensive planning and zoning services for the Massanutten Community. However, if the community incorporated into a town, the only services that an incorporated town of Massanutten is required to provide, pursuant to VA Law, are the services of comprehensive planning and zoning. These services would be provided by the town to its property owners, citizens, businesses, and visitors, in lieu of similar County services.

Currently, Rockingham County provides law enforcement and the VA Department of Transportation (VDOT) provides road maintenance services to only part of the Massanutten Community, specifically to the districts of Woodstone Meadows, Village Festival, and Massanutten Station. The Massanutten Property Owners Association (MPOA) provides private law enforcement and maintenance services for the Massanutten Village district, where there are no publicly owned roads, parks, or open spaces in the district. If Massanutten incorporated into a town, the actual mix of optional services provided by the incorporated town would largely depend on what services would be needed for Massanutten Village. This is because the Massanutten Village district makes up the overwhelming majority of land area and population in the hypothetical town, and MPOA already provides many essential services. Thus, what optional services would be provided by the incorporated town would depend on what services would be retained by MPOA, post incorporation. The advantage to having an incorporated town of Massanutten provide essential services is a town’s ability to balance, via taxes and fees, the cost of services among property owners, citizens, businesses, and visitors. And, incorporated towns are eligible to receive state and federal funding to help defray the costs of essential services. If an incorporated town of Massanutten provides a service(s), in lieu of an MPOA service(s), the town would benefit by the transfer of MPOA assets and/or the turning over of MPOA properties associated with the given essential service(s). The following services were examined for an incorporated town of Massanutten.

Road Maintenance — MPOA currently maintains fifty-two (52) lane miles of roads in the Massanutten Village district. This maintenance includes resurfacing roads, plowing snow, and cutting grass along roadsides. If Massanutten incorporated into a town, it could decide to provide maintenance for all publicly owned town roads, including roughly twelve (12) lane miles in the Woodstone Meadows and Village Festival districts. An incorporated town of Massanutten could provide road maintenance, similar in quality to that which MPOA currently provides to the Massanutten Village district, without any maintenance provided by VDOT. If MPOA turned over its privately owned roads for public use, an incorporated town of Massanutten would have roughly sixty-four (64) lane miles of hard surfaced roads and could qualify for $750,000 in grants from the VDOT Urban Maintenance Program. This Program has distributed state and federal gasoline tax revenues to VA cities and towns for over 25 years, without any budget cuts. The Program helps to defray road maintenance costs in most incorporated towns in VA, with actual funds distributed by the number of lane miles of town roads. For example in FY2011, Elkton received $350,390 in funding for 35.7 lane miles of roads, Bridgewater received $579,585 in funding for 51.1 lane miles of roads, and the city of Harrisonburg received $3,761,030 for 316.3 lane miles of roads. An incorporated town of Massanutten could also receive additional state and federal funding for road construction projects, such as the widening of Massanutten Drive, which is currently bearing three times the vehicle load than its design specifications. State and federal funding assistance for maintenance and construction would be welcomed for an aging and heavily traveled road system in the Massanutten Community. It is important to note that town incorporation is not necessarily linked to MPOA turning over its privately owned roads for public use, nor is it linked to receiving VDOT funding. If Massanutten incorporated into a town, it would not be required to provide any maintenance for MPOA roads or could provide maintenance for some MPOA roads, like Massanutten Drive and Del Webb Drive, which are largely open to the public at this time. SECTION IV. Massanutten Community Infrastructure of the Final Report has more details about road maintenance services.

Law Enforcement — MPOA currently has a privately funded security force made up of seven (7) full-time «Special Conservatives of the Peace» plus five (5) full-time Gate Attendants that serve the Massanutten Village district with law enforcement and security. They cover the district with at least one Special Conservator and one Gate Attendant on duty twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In 2009, the Special Conservators responded to more 9-1-1 calls than any town law enforcement agency in Rockingham County and reported the second most number of crimes. If Massanutten incorporated into a town, town officials could decide to provide law enforcement for all town property owners, citizens, businesses, and visitors. The incorporated town Police Force could consist of eleven (11) full-time Police Officers and one (1) full-time administrative staff member with a budget augmented by more than $60,000 annually in state and federal law enforcement grants. This would be the largest town police force in Rockingham County covering the town area with at least two (2) Officers on duty twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The Police Force would have statutory authority to protect and serve the community with full capacity to uphold the laws of the Town, Virginia, and the United States, as an integral part of the national law enforcement community, to include participating in mutual aid agreements. SECTION V. Massanutten Community Law Enforcement of the Final Report has more details about Massanutten Community law enforcement.

Parks and Open Space Maintenance — MPOA currently maintains two parks and many acres of open space in the Massanutten Village district. The maintenance includes such things as resurfacing parking lots, collecting leaves, and cutting grass. If Massanutten incorporated into a town, town officials could decide to provide maintenance for all publicly owned town parks and open space providing maintenance, similar in quality to that which MPOA currently provides to Massanutten Village. If MPOA turned over for public use its two privately owned parks along with its many acres of open space used for recreation and storm water management, the incorporated town could qualify for state and federal funding for improvements to these areas. This could include constructing bike lanes and hiking paths, improving storm water management, refurbishing historical landmarks, and replacing the tree canopy in parks. SECTION VI. Massanutten Community Parks and Recreation of the Final Report has more details about Massanutten Community parks and recreation.

Public Utility Services — The Massanutten Community is served with underground utilities by Massanutten Public Service Corporation (MPSC — water and sewerage), Dominion Power (electric), Verizon (telephone), and Comcast (cable television). The services provided by these companies would be relatively unaffected by town incorporation with two exceptions. First, the Massanutten Community has endured many years of utility company construction projects that have negatively impacted road surface integrity affecting smooth vehicle travel and road lifetime. An incorporated town of Massanutten would have greater legal authority, than MPOA, to ensure the long term proper repair of roads and right-of-ways after construction done by utility companies. Second, MPSC provides service only to the Massanutten Community. It has recently increased rates twice in a three year period, nearly doubling the rates, and making them over twice the rate paid by other Rockingham County residents. MPOA has had limited success in preventing MPSC rate hikes. If Massanutten incorporated into a town, its elected government officials, recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia to include the VA State Corporation Commission, could have greater political success in preventing or limiting any future MPSC rate increases. SECTION IV. Massanutten Community Infrastructure of the Final Report has more details about Massanutten Community infrastructure.