Lee Roy “Buddy” Carson III voiced the following remarks July 22 to the Crisfield Mayor and City Council regarding a way to fund repairs to Hammock Pointe Road.
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In the 1980s I had a vision to turn a piece of marsh, a spoil area, into a housing development. The property known as Lavallettes. The property was located at that time in the county, and not in the City of Crisfield.
I put together a group of investors and we formed Hammock Pointe Associates. We went to the city to see what it would take to annex this development into the city limits. Later we inquired if the city would get a bond for a water and sewer project, the city got a 30-year bond with the understanding the property owners would pay the bond. The bond is to be paid off in 2019. The road and stormwater projects were paid for by Hammock Pointe Associates.
After the development of Hammock Pointe, we each began to build a house. Later we let the city use part of the property for the country music festival for several years. This event brought a lot of new people and business to Crisfield.
Since the development of Hammock Pointe I estimate the city has collected in the neighborhood of $1 million in taxes. In my opinion, we gave the City of Crisfield a cash cow.
Approximately three years ago I was told by Mayor Purnell and Councilman Lawson that Hammock Pointe Road was top priority for road repair. The next thing I know we were removed from that list and Locust Street took our place with a new blacktop road and some new curb and gutter. I was told by city officials that the property owners of Locust Street complained more than we did. That’s why I have these neighbors here [attending the meeting].
I was also told several years ago that the cul-de-sac at the end of Hammock Pointe Road had to have a curb and gutter before any road repair would be done. Several years would pass and here we are.
On several occasions I met with Mayor Lawson onsite to discuss the road. The road right-of-way is 50 foot but…the road surface is 40 feet. To cut the cost of the road I suggest 32 feet; that would be a 20-percent savings. The taxes to be collected this year 2015-16 are $57,760.
Let us talk about the city taxes and road. Mayor Lawson has stated that not one penny was on street paving and maintenance. What I think we have here is a business model that is broken. I have always believed that if something isn’t working, try something else.
In reference to the road needs, most municipalities use bond and capital loans to fund these expenses. In addition the city needs more revenue sources, and not fees. I believe if the city dropped some of its fees that [make building prohibitive] this would make it more affordable to build in the city limits and not outside. Fees are a one-time shot, but taxes are a revenue source forever.
For example to hook-up to water and sewer at Hammock Pointe it is $5,500. That’s just one of the things, but we need to encourage people to build here. Number one, we’re paying double taxes. We’re paying the city and county, and that’s a hurdle right there. This fee, that fee, these fees attached to it…it’s tough.
I’m a believer of first impressions. Let us put ourselves in the shoes of someone coming to Crisfield to buy a home or start a business. First thing they see are the deplorable conditions of the road, and with that they would think twice before investing in Crisfield.
The City of Crisfield could institute a road fee, the same way you have from the Chesapeake Bay [Restoration Fund], [and charge $5 per month on the monthly water and sewer bill]. This multiplier by 1,700 water and sewer users would generate $8,500 per month in additional revenue. That money would be just for roads….if all of sudden you started getting this road user fee money you could accelerate your beautification of Crisfield. Five dollars a person per water and sewer bill would go an awful long way.
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