County to propose lower fee for sanitary district

FRONT ROYAL – Lake Front Royal property owners would see a break in the special tax they pay with the creation of their sanitary district.

The Board of Supervisors plans to consider setting a fiscal 2017 budget and tax rate for the Lake Front Royal Sanitary District. The county must hold a public hearing before establishing the tax levy and spending plan. The matter of advertising the hearing comes before the board Tuesday.

County Administrator Doug Stanley said Friday that the Lake Front Royal Property Owners Association charged $600 per lot, $300 of which the organization earmarked for a project aimed at improving the neighborhood entrance road. The proposed rate of $450 would include $150 rather than $300 for the road project.

“Being the first year of the budget we were trying to base it off of what they had been paying to operate the subdivision,” Stanley said. “We were simply using that base rate and half of the project levy.”

The county has 11 sanitary districts, each of which charges a special assessment for each lot in addition to the real estate tax rate. Tax rates for the remaining 10 districts are as follows:
• Blue Mountain – $65 per lot plus 23 cents per $100 of assessed value.
• Cedarville – $50 per lot.
• High Knob – $383 per unimproved lot, $620 improved lot.
• Linden Heights – $350 per lot.
Riverside – $60 per lot plus 17 cents per $100 of assessed value.
• Shangri-La – $385 per lot (adopted by the board earlier this spring)
• Shenandoah Farms – $240 per unimproved lot, $275 improved lot.
• Shenandoah Shores – $115 per lot plus 17 cents per $100 of assessed value.
• Skyland Estates – 35 cents per $100 of assessed value.
• South River – $300 per lot plus 5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Rates for Shenandoah Farms, High Knob and Blue Mountain increased from fiscal 2016 to 2017.

The board discussed at a Sept. 20 work session setting the tax rate at $450 per lot. The levy would include a base rate of $300 per lot for road and facility maintenance. The additional $150 would go specifically toward Lake Front Road improvements – a rural addition project with the Virginia Department of Transportation. The property owners association assessed $300 per lot in the current year to go toward the Lake Front Road improvements. The road serves as the only way in and out of the subdivision.

The county applied to VDOT for a cost-sharing project in the amount of $700,000 to improve a section of Lake Front Road to state standards through the rural addition program. As part of the project, property owners must cover 25 percent of the cost. Once improved, VDOT would take over the maintenance of the section as a state road. The road section then becomes public.

The property owners association has approximately $107,000 available for the road project. A rate of $150 per lot would generate about $45,785. Based on this rate, it would take an additional year to generate the money needed to complete the project and the associated utility costs. The county could offset the delay by collecting previously billed yet not collected funds by the association.

Advertising the hearing now would allow the county to include the sanitary district fees in the Dec. 5 real estate tax bills. Property owners would then pay half the fiscal 2017 sanitary district tax rate on Dec. 5 and the second installment June 5.

Property owners associations of the sanitary districts usually propose their fiscal budgets and tax rates. In some cases, the associations ask the Board of Supervisors to increase their tax rates as a way to raise revenue for road maintenance costs. The property owners association board of directors recently announced that they would not work with the county effective Jan. 1. The decision will leave it up to the county to conduct the sanitary district business, set tax rates and budgets.The association board made the decision in protest over the supervisors’ decision to allow the sanitary district remain in spite of the organization’s opposition.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com.