Special Service District Proposal Could Affect Residential And Commercial Tax Parcels In Lee Hill District
At the July 11th Board of Supervisors meeting, County staff provided a presentation on Special Service Districts (SSD). There is a follow-up scheduled for the August 8, 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting.
A SSD is an area designated by county ordinance as being subject to special real property taxes in addition to regular real property taxes. It is normally levied on commercially zoned tax parcels.
The concerning aspect of the discussion was that several Supervisors seemed open to the idea of placing a SSD on a large portion of the Lee Hill District, to include new and existing residential tax parcels, not just the Alexander Crossing and Jackson Village developments.
This proposed SSD would seek to generate funds for transportation projects on the Route 1 and Route 2/17 corridors.
The county currently has four SSD's: Cosner’s Corner, Harrison Crossing, Lee Hill East, and Lee Hill West. These SSD's are projected to generate $1.0 million in revenue in Fiscal Year 2018.
The SSD is depicted on the shaded part of the map presented below. Staff estimates it would raise about $169,000 per penny of the SSD tax. By comparison, a one penny increase of real estate tax rate for all county residents generates roughly $1.3 million.
As a Lee Hill commuter, I participate in the daily frustration of gridlock traffic. However, I’m not convinced the SSD levied on commercial tax parcels and especially not on residential tax parcels are effective ways of generating funds for transportation.
Transportation improvements in the proposed SSD would be enjoyed by all residents as they traverse the county. Therefore, the financial burden of the improvements should be shared by all.
I would like to improve the traffic situation in the county, but this is inherently a state responsibility, not local governments. If elected, I will encourage the Board to work with our state representatives to fulfill their responsibilities by finding ways to increase transportation dollars.
In recent years, the county has taken on more of this burden, which has taken county revenue away from adequately promoting core services such as schools, law enforcement, and firefighters to name a few. If we decide to accept too large a share of this burden from the state, I believe two things will occur. One, the state will become less inclined to address the declining value of our transportation dollars. Two, we will ultimately need to sacrifice an unacceptable level of our core services at some point in the future.
One local option to address transportation congestion is to create a Regional Transportation Authority, which has the potential to generate revenue from tourists and citizens passing through the region. This would take some of the financial burden to fund transportation projects off county residents. This money could be earmarked for specific projects or areas in need of improvements, based on how the Authority is created.
Click here to review a previous post on Regional Transportation Authorities.
Click here to watch the July 11, 2017 Board of Supervisors SSD discussion. Forward to minute marker 13:08.
Click here to review the full July 11, 2017 County staff SSD presentation.