Storm water management, Yes; Rain Tax, No

Storm water management, Yes; Rain Tax, No

There is a need in our county for Storm Water Management.  We and most everyone we have talked with agree to this.

The problem is how this infrastructure project will be funded and exactly what is funded at what cost.

There were three options for funding proposed:

  1. Service District Taxing (those using the infrastructure pay more on some scale)
  2. General Fund.  We all pay through our property taxes – (instituted by the County starting in 2013 – why change?)
  3. The Utility fee – what has become locally called the ‘Rain Tax’.

The decision has been made to go forward with option 3, the Utility Fee, although the County’s own analysis presented in January 2014 showed the Utility Fee system to be the most expensive, in dollars, administratively and in resident burden.

This choice is led by Ann Mallek, our White Hall Supervisor and chairman of the Board of Supervisors. We and our neighbors have attempted to talk with her about problems with option 3 and she has been unresponsive. We are concerned that choosing Option 3 may be due to the millions of dollars the County has already spent pursuing/developing the Utility system as a funding mechanism.

The opposition to the ‘rain tax’ is great (many moving parts as you will see in the resources list provided at the end of this letter).

This is BIG for everyone, regardless if one lives in a condo in Crozet, farmhouse in Scottsville, or house in Ashcroft. Why? Because 33% (possibly more) of revenue generated will be for collecting the utility fees for the project. In addition, we have no specification/guaranty as to what the monies collected will fund!
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The administration of fee collection, in and of itself, is cumbersome: fees will be set for rooftop dimensions (every house, farm building, shed, church, nonprofit organization, etc.) and paved surfaces, based on satellite data (which often times is not accurate) collected from all 700+ sq. miles of Albemarle County.  County property owners may be eligible to receive some portion of their fees back in the form of credits. These credits may be given after the County’s inspectors make evaluations of an owner’s building to determine if it meets criteria, unspecified as of yet – and that’s just for starters!

There is a board meeting (not a hearing) April 11 where this will be discussed again.  We plan to be there.  Hope you will be there too.

To Close:  We support a plan for Storm Water Management.  The problem is how it will be paid for.

Need more information?  Check out these sources:
http://wina.com/podcasts/joe-jones-va-farm-bureau-warns-of-rain-tax/

Albemarle County Farm Bureau Facebook entry:  December 20, 2017

http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/22210-stormwater-fee-recommendations/

https://albemarle.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=4052979&GUID=B7A6D5DB-EF2D-4264-BE52-9E0019780C8A  (Note the public responses starting on page 49 and the survey results on page 59. Note also, rural counties fund through their General Fund; Separate Utilities are highly populated counties)

http://www.albemarle.org/department.asp?department=water&relpage=18774

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Gibson Guss
Bruce Guss

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