What is the $190 recreation user fee on my tax bill?
The Recreation User Fee funds the operation of the GHCP Sanitary District. Every property in Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point that was registered with the County as an individual lot on January 1, 2016 has been assessed the same fee. The fee was determined by dividing the Sanitary District Budget that was approved by the Board of Supervisors on August 8, 2016 by the number of lots (about 1400) in GHCP.
You mean I have to pay twice just because my house is on two lots?
Yes, unfortunately. But there is a consolidation process you can use to avoid paying twice next tax year if you complete the process before the end of December. Check out Lot Consolidation on the GH-CP.org web site.
What are the amenities I will be able to use?
The GHCP Sanitary District amenities include three major beaches, two boat ramps, an outdoor pool, an outdoor wading pool, two tennis courts, a picnic area, playground equipment, a basketball court, and the clubhouse.
Will these amenities be open to all taxpayers in the County?
No. The Recreation User Fee is assessed only on properties within GHCP, and the money collected can only be used for purposes of the Sanitary District and the benefit of the property owners in these two communities. If you call the POA office (804-472-3646) and identify yourself as a property owner, we will give you the combination to the locks. Property owners are also welcome to attend our social events. Please check the web site for specifics as some events have limits on the numbers of participants and may have associated costs.
What is a Sanitary District?
A Sanitary District (SD) is a legal designation for a specific geographic area administered by the County’s Board of Supervisors for specific purposes. A neighboring community, Placid Bay, formed a sanitary district after their dam failed and the community was unable to raise the money to rebuild the dam.
The Glebe Harbor/Cabin Point Sanitary District has been formed to assure ours remains a water access community, and to operate and preserve the amenities owned and managed by the voluntary POA for the benefit of all property owners. These include boat ramps, navigable channels, ponds, beaches, clubhouse, tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, and the picnic pavilion.
Establishment of the GHCP Sanitary District was approved by the Westmoreland County Circuit Court on May 4, 2016. The order was premised on the core argument that the formation of the GHCP Sanitary District (1) establishes a sustainable, predictable financial structure which assures the long-term operation, maintenance, and capital management of the recreational assets within the SD; (2) benefits all property owners by providing well-maintained community recreational facilities and amenities that increase the fair market value of their properties; and (3) affords all property owners within the SD the opportunity to use the community recreational facilities.
Is it related to the sewer project?
No. The names of these two projects are confusing. The sewer project is a county sponsored initiative to improve sanitation and wastewater management which benefits the county at large. Connecting to the sewer system is optional; property owners can choose not to connect.
The Sanitary District is a taxing district formed for a specific purpose, in our case to assure that the unique waterfront and water access amenities and the recreational facilities of our community are well-maintained, thereby preserving the fair market value of all properties within the subdivisions. Every lot within GHCP is part of the Sanitary District and will be assessed the corresponding recreation user fee. It is not voluntary.
Why do we need to establish a Sanitary District?
While initially all property owners were members of the voluntary property owners association, over the past 50 years many property owners have chosen not to maintain their memberships. It is the voluntary contributions of those property owners who have remained members that have maintain the natural resources and infrastructure (e.g., beaches, waterways, and recreational facilities) of the GH-CP communities. Today, that model cannot be sustained. The costs of assuring inlets, creeks and beaches in both subdivisions are navigable and maintained now and in the future are too high to be carried by the approximately one-third of residents who are voluntary members of the POA.
The purpose of this Sanitary District is to provide all property owners within the District certain services and amenities, and full access to all community amenities for all property owners. The Sanitary District creates a revenue stream to fund the costs of management, operation, maintenance, improvements, and preservations of the community amenities, including the costs associated with beach and shoreline management and restoration, dredging of creeks and rivers to maintain existing uses, and maintenance of boat ramps and facilities, and other community recreational facilities. All of these assets and amenities contribute to the property values of all properties in the community.
What might have happened if we did not succeed in establishing a Sanitary District?
Without the Sanitary District, our water access and amenities were at significant risk. The POA just spent $160,000 to dredge the inlets and nourish the beaches. Structural improvements like breakwaters and geo-tubes reduce the need for dredging and ultimately save money, but are costly up front. We estimate the additional work now needed to protect the inlets and beaches would cost in excess of $400,000–completely out of reach for the roughly one-third of property owners of Glebe Harbor – Cabin Point (GHCP) who are members of the current POA. These assets are critical to the property value of all owners, as are the other community amenities such as the swimming pool.
Why are all residents required to pay, especially if we don’t use them?
Even if you do not use them, the presence of navigable waterways and other amenities adds value to every property in GHCP. GHCP was developed because of its proximity and access to water. The value of every property is increased by the option that people have to use the beaches, boat ramps, and waterways. But the cost of maintaining these facilities has become more than the voluntary members of the POA can support. The same can be said for the Clubhouse, swimming pool, and other community amenities, whether individual owners use them or not. And the value of every property would suffer if the waterways become unusable, if the beaches erode, and if the other amenities were to fall into disrepair.
Under the Sanitary District, we will have a sustainable foundation to preserve them, and all owners will have access to all amenities for the cost of their recreation user fee. The lower cost – compared to a $1000 initiation fee, and $340 annual dues under the voluntary POA – will benefit families who may have found the higher costs unaffordable.
I’m confused about the budget. It seems like I’m paying twice, and some people are getting a free ride.
We are in a transition period, so things are confusing.
The dues paid by the voluntary members of the POA in May, 2016, will pay off our dredging loan and cover expenses to operate all facilities through 30 April, 2017 (the end of the former POA fiscal year.)
The Recreation fee all property owners will pay in December, 2016 will fund the Sanitary District Budget approved by the Board of Supervisors in August (for the County 2016-2017 Fiscal Year, July 1, 2016- June 30, 2017.) That budget has two major components. It pays for SD operations May 1 – June 30, 2017, and it allocates about $210,000 to dredging, waterway management, and beach nourishment.
In the process, we get the Sanitary District and the POA fiscal years and budgets in sync with the County budget cycle, and we get a jump start on the major reason for establishing the SD – to keep Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point a well-maintained waterfront and water access community. This also greatly reduces future borrowing to complete needed dredging, waterway management, and beach nourishment, which will reduce overall costs and budget pressures that could increase future recreation user fees. And in this transition period, it simply seems reasonable to open the boat ramps, beaches, tennis courts, and social events to all property owners.
No SD tax (recreation user fee) dollars will be spent before all property owners have access to all facilities.
What is the role of the POA once the Sanitary District is established?
The Glebe Harbor-Cabin Point Property Owners Association will continue to exist and to own the recreational facilities, assets, and amenities of the two subdivisions. It will lease its facilities and recreational amenities to the county for the purposes of the SD, but will retain ownership. Under a management agreement with the County, the POA will manage day-to-day operations and maintenance. Membership in the GHCP POA will be expanded to include all property owners within the GHCP Sanitary District.
The Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors will act as the governing body of the Sanitary District.
Will the POA transfer its assets to the County?
No. The POA retains ownership of all assets. The POA will lease assets to the County for a nominal fee so they can be managed for the benefit of property owners within the Sanitary District.
How does this transition to the Sanitary District happen?
Here’s what is happening now. The POA Board of Directors is drafting revised Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, and operating rules for the POA and all facilities. Changes are needed for example, to open membership in the POA to all property owners (instead of just those who, in past, paid initiation fees and voluntary dues). Those changes will be presented for approval by the current POA members in early December. Their approval will make all property owners in Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point members of the POA. By the December 12, we expect to have the Management and Lease agreements with the County approved and signed by the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors. That will complete the legal process.
We are also working on a new membership process for issuing access cards and decals to allow property owners access to facilities. By mid-December, and possibly earlier, all property owners will receive a letter explaining the new system, and asking each property owner who plans to use the facilities to provide contact and other information. We will mail out access cards and decals no later than the first week in May.
In the meantime, all property owners are welcome to attend any of the social and other events posted on the POA web site, and may call the POA office for lock combinations and other facility access questions.
How will the next Sanitary Budget and Recreation Fee be established?
In January and/or February the POA Board of Directors will propose to the POA Membership a draft budget for the County fiscal year 2017-18 (July 1, 2017-June 30 2108.) We will schedule and announce opportunities for members to ask questions, provide suggestions for items to be included in the budget, and comment on the proposal.
By the end of February, 2017, the POA Board of Directors will recommend a GH-CP Sanitary District budget to the County Administrator. After further collaboration with the POA Board of Directors, the County Administrator will, in turn, present it to the Board of Supervisors.
As with all parts of the County budget, the Board of Supervisors will announce and conduct an open hearing at which all property owners may express their views. The Board of Supervisors has the final authority to approve the budget.
The recreation fee will be determined by dividing the approved budget by the number of taxable lots in GHCP as of January 1, 2017.
How can I participate now?
Get involved by voicing your views and staying informed. All voices are welcome, constructive suggestions greatly appreciated!
Use the facilties. All property owners who call the POA office (804-472-3646) will be given the combinations to locks at the boat ramps, tennis court, and the Cabin Point beach. You are also welcome to join the social and other events posted on the POA website. If you have other request, please ask and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Volunteer! For almost 50 years, GHCP has depended and thrived on the willingness of owners to pitch in, to donate their time and effort to help make GHCP a great place to live. When you see calls for volunteers to take on projects in the community, please join us! If you have a particular interest or skill to contribute, please call Teresa at the office and she will connect you with the right folks to help out. (At the moment we could really use some web site or computer/data base help, but sometimes we just need willing hands for a couple of hours.) Also, in the Spring we will be seeking volunteers who are willing to serve on the POA Board of Directors. The Board is composed of nine Directors, three of whom are elected each year and serve for a 3-year term. We will be seeking individuals willing to serve in this capacity, especially those who are new to the community and the Association.