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Homeowners in Placid Bay will pay additional taxes

It became official when the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors held its Monday, July 9 meeting. The Board delivered a unanimous vote to impose an additional set of taxes on Placid Bay property owners. The subdivision has now officially become a sanitary district.

Placid Bay subdivision lost its dam during the Tropical Storm Lee event in September 2011. Streets were destroyed and many residents were stranded in their homes for an extended period. Work is still in process to repair the damage resulting from the unprecedented flooding that occurred.

Street conditions were a community concern some twenty years ago, when Placid Bay civic leader Bobbie Bailey sought assistance from the county government. 

The late George Mason III was County Attorney at that time. Mason was tasked with identifying a measure that would enable the subdivision’s lot owners to generate revenue dedicated to street improvements and the sanitary district designation was proposed.

The idea of paying an additional set of taxes to the county government was difficult to sell and the initiative was forgotten until the county and the Town of Colonial Beach launched an initiative some five years ago to pursue improvements to designated subdivision streets utilizing Virginia Department of Transportation’s revenue sharing program.

Residents from participating Westmoreland County subdivisions and Town of Colonial Beach counterparts worked with the respective local governments and VDOT to bring improvements to streets in subdivisions all the way from Riverside Meadows to Cabin Point.

In Placid Bay, Impacts associated with Tropical Storm Lee reduced past street improvements to relative insignificance. Something substantial needed to be done and Placid Bay community representatives began meeting with members of the local government.

After ten months of deliberation, a remedy not universally embraced was brought to members of the Placid Bay community. The subdivision would become a sanitary district and lot owners would pay the extra set of taxes to support the 40-year debt service obligation associated with the sanitary district’s infrastructure improvements program.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service is loaning the county the $1,039,600-plus that is required to repair the damage from last September’s storm. The Supervisors’ July 9 action imposing the special assessment within the Placid Bay sanitary district impacts both real estate and personal property tax rates. The real estate rate per hundred dollar value will be six cents higher than the standard Westmoreland County rate and the personal property tax rate will be one cent higher. A forty dollar per parcel road improvement user fee was additionally imposed.

During this Monday night’s Board of Supervisors deliberations, Placid Bay Civic Association President John Johnson described the measures taken as “a giant step forward for Placid Bay.

“We are doing something that should have been done forty years ago. If we want to build a new dam, first we need to build a community, bringing people together with different points of view. This is a giant step forward. Thank you very much,” Dr. Johnson told the members of the county government.

Longtime District 4 Supervisor and Placid Bay resident Woody Hynson shared similar sentiments when he remarked that the July 9 action was long in coming and is needed “to correct what should have been done forty years ago.”

Aware of resistance to imposition of the additional tax assessment, Hynson urged Placid Bay residents “to put things in the perspective of what’s important to them. It’s time for people in Placid Bay to find a little bit of money to put in roads,” he noted.

“If Placid Bay has good roads, a dam replaced and water in the lake, property values will go up. The Association will determine what roads will be fixed first, and I am sure that everyone will pull together. We all know what it is going to take to fix it.”

Addressing problematic road conditions that predated the September 2011 weather event, Hynson then stated, “This problem has been growing for forty years and I’m not going to put it off any longer. What we’re doing is what my heart tells me is right.”

As previously noted, sentiments expressed by the District 4 Supervisor and the President of the Placid Bay Civic Association were anything but universal. Two other voices were heard this Monday night.

One man told the supervisors he was “very disappointed in this Board.

“You have divided the community in half,” he told the Westmoreland Supervisors. “Not all the property owners were notified of these [new] taxes. The water table was falsely raised by the dam. We now have better drainage in the community.”

The speaker chided authorities for not commissioning a study to determine if the dam caused drainage problems prior to its September 2011 collapse.

“We just celebrated the Fourth of July,” the displeased Placid Bay resident then noted.

“Part of the reason the people of Boston were unhappy was they felt they had not been represented when the decision was made to put the tax on tea. Guess what - not all of us voted,” he said

 

Betsy Ficklin

 

 

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