2006-08-30 / Front Page

Proffer increase is delayed

By Greg Pearson


The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors delayed a decision on increasing proffers last week until a county summit on transportation is held by year's end. County Administrator Lane Ramsey is proposing raising proffers from a maximum of $15,600 to $22,600 to cover the costs of providing services (primarily roads and schools) to residents of new homes.

"We're going to put together for the board [at the transportation summit] everything that is out there," said Ramsey. "That includes proffers, state funding and transportation districts. Now that the county has the lowest BPOL (a tax on businesses), I'm proposing that the growth of BPOL [revenue] go to roads. We could also have more road referenda."

"We have to come up with some creative ways to fund roads," said Matoaca Supervisor Renny Humphrey. Her district has the most critical need for road improvements.

One "creative" way to fund roads is by setting up transportation service districts like the one for Centerpointe, an office and commercial area near the intersection of Powhite and Charter Colony parkways. While property owners countywide are currently paying $1.04 per $100 of assessed value on real estate, many adjacent property owners around the intersection are paying $1.19. They will continue to pay 15 cents more than the going tax rate for an estimated 30-35 years until approximately $43 million is raised.

The money will be used to build a cloverleaf at that intersection. When enacted by the board, existing properties that were at least 25 percent built were exempted from the service district. State law allows the county board to determine which properties pay the higher property tax rate.

The impact of transportation districts could be significant because the board could create additional districts and increase real estate taxes for areas partially developed. Ramsey named three troublesome traffic areas - Woolridge and Otterdale roads, Beach and Nash roads and Route 10 between I-95 and I-295-that are on his list for road improvements.

One community named specifically last week was Magnolia Green, which calls for 4,886 homes to be built on 3,892 acres off Route 360, five miles west of Woodlake. That development was rezoned in 1991 without cash proffers and is owned separately by Sal Cangiano, a Leesburg, Va. developer, and Lifestyle Builders, a Chesterfield company.

"I can't fathom Magnolia Green being built without cash proffers," said Humphrey. Though its zoning is in place, no site plans have yet been filed. She doubted the board would have the "political will" to create transportation districts for other communities built without proffers.

"A transportation district could include new and existing residential," offered Clover Hill Supervisor Art Warren, "but I'd want to see the details of the district first." Warren generally supports the possibility of districts for residential communities that need road improvements and have paid little or no proffers.

"I think that's a tool we ought to look at," added Dale Supervisor Kelly Miller.

Midlothian Supervisor Terri Beirne was reluctant to apply these districts to rezonings already approved, questioning if it was "equitable." But her term as interim supervisor runs out in two months before the board will decide these matters.

The Home Building Association of Richmond is pleased the supervisors delayed a decision on raising proffers and are looking at other alternatives. Spokesperson Tyler Craddock said transportation districts would not impact his industry as directly since the road improvement money would be collected by the real estate assessor's office, and also might apply to the resale of homes and commercial property.

"It's a more broad based way of raising revenue," he said.

After a 35 percent hike for a maximum proffer of $15,600 last October, some supervisors believe there is too much reliance on new home proffers for revenue. Chairman Dickie King opposed the hike to $22,600 even before he was briefed by the county about the reasons for the increase.

"I'll need a lot of data from the county before I can justify an increase," added Miller. "I think there's a limit to proffers."

Still undecided is whether the county should increase the portion of the proffer that goes to education. The board seems to be leaning toward a new formula that would increase the school proffer by $2,900 per new home. That formula calculates there are .65 students per new household in the top 15 fastest growing subdivisions. Those subdivisions represented half of the new homes in Chesterfield last year.

"We need that student increase number in my district," said Humphrey. The top subdivisions with the most children - Hampton Park with 1.17 and Summer Lake with 1.07 - are in her district. Charter Colony (.51) and Walnut Grove (.44) have the fewest children.

The cost of proffers for some homes could increase because the board recently voted to apply the school proffer to agetargeted homes as recommended by the Planning Commission and Planning Department. The maximum school proffer is $5,348.

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