Round Hill Mayor Scott Ramsey last night led a public outreach meeting at Round Hill Elementary to open dialogue among residents about the town’s plan to expand.
About 50 people showed up to hear more about the proposed boundary line adjustment, which could double town population and eventually incorporate the 84 percent of Round Hill utility customers currently residing outside town limits.
According to Ramsey, the expansion is primarily intended to increase community engagement and provide a larger pool of candidates to participate in local government.
“I think [town expansion] will actually help pull the community together more,” he said. “We are severely imbalanced compared to everyone else.”
While the inclusion of nearly 1,300 households would be done gradually, the town is now seeking input from residents regarding a smaller short-term expansion area that would incorporate 217 home within the Hillwood Estates, West Loudoun Street, Fallswood, Brentwood Springs, Newberry Crossing, Falls Place and Mystic Lane neighborhoods.
“If we don’t get the process started, we never do it,” Ramsey said.
The suggested short-term expansion area would increase town population from 590 to 1,133. The planned construction of an additional 157 homes would later increase the town’s population to about 1,500.
A secondary reason for expansion is to increase the town’s General Fund revenue, which pays for non-utility town projects like sidewalks, trails and parks.
According to the town’s figures, the average incoming household within the short-term expansion area would save $651 on their annual water and sewer bills and garbage pick-up fees, but pay $626 annually in town property taxes. For the average in-town household, utility rates would increase by $34 and property taxes would decrease by $126 annually.
About $114,000 more would be contributed to the town’s General Fund annually from these property tax estimates.
Of course, depending on property assessments and utility usage, projections would vary between households.
Aside from property taxes, the General Fund would also see new revenue from incoming households in the form of taxes and fees that are currently paid to the county and state. These include state sales taxes, vehicle decal fees and communications, utility and business taxes. Once households within the short-term expansion area are annexed, the receipt of these taxes and fees would switch to the town, providing Round Hill with an estimated $81,000 in additional annual revenue.
When asked why the initial expansion wouldn’t incorporate more of the 1,293 households outside town limits, Ramsey made it clear expanding so much so quickly would increase utility rates by too much for households that remained out of town.
“We wanted to pursue this in a phased motion,” he said. “We’re a slow-growth town council ourselves.”
Ramsey also said the town is not yet equipped to take care of its roads, something Virginia law requires towns to do once in-town populations exceed 3,500. If all out-of-town residential areas are eventually annexed, about 1,500 households will be added, increasing town population to about 4,000.
A final public information session is planned later this fall, before the Town Council begin formal debate over whether to pursue expansion and, if so, which properties to incorporate. A date has not yet been set.