Monday, July 11, 2022 4:32 PM
Thoughts for Improvement
1. What do you view as the two biggest problems or challenges facing Purcellville? What are your plans to address them?
In light of recent events, we had three big issues facing Purcellville these past two years: Covid-19, Debt, and Growth. Covid-19 and the economic impacts that it had on our businesses and residents is the most pressing. We need to protect the health and safety of residents while ensuring the success of our businesses. Fighting for local funding assistance that became available, managing our budget to protect against changes in revenue, has helped position Purcellville to weather the recovery from this pandemic.
For years, Purcellville took on debt, and the revenue stream to pay to retire that debt was from growth, which is unsustainable. Our utility system was over-expanded, and it was never asked by consultants or Town whether we could sustain that system with our own tax base; and we see clearly that we couldn't. There should be limits on financing streams and limits on how much local revenue can be used toward debt service to keep today’s elected officers and bureaucrats from future spending for the needs of today. I will work on other funding possibilities to contribute to our infrastructure needs, and on ways in which we can create revenue from the Town's assets.
Lastly, I would hold the line on growth – by means of annexation. For every dollar spent for a residential home, the cost to the taxpayer is approximately $1.62. The zoning ordinance is crucial for the Town’s character and development. We are about to undertake a review of the current zoning ordinance, and it is important to have a strong council that will not allow inappropriate zoning that would eliminate our small-town feel. Most importantly, the Town Council must represent the citizens, who have overwhelmingly voted for slow growth and maintaining Purcellville as a small town.
2. How do you aim to ensure that Purcellville is a business-friendly town?
Purcellville’s Economic Development Advisory Committee has been reaching out to businesses in Town for several years; and they are about to start a Second Saturday program. Events like Second Saturday would be held to stimulate business activity throughout the Town – by holding special events. Discover Purcellville has sponsored numerous events yearly, and with great success to businesses in Town. I would work with members of EDAC to create opportunities for more creativity and innovation with our business community. Purcellville is the hub of Western Loudoun County; and last year we welcomed 80 new businesses.
There are new businesses that have come to Purcellville, it is important to make sure their experience is streamlined and efficient. From zoning regulations to tax policies, we should always be taking the pulse of our businesses. Working together creates more opportunity for success and innovation; and I would encourage and support that.
3. Do you believe there are areas where the Town of Purcellville can expand with regards to new developments or commercial projects? Or are you firmly against any new proposals to increase the size the of the Town?
Purcellville should cultivate growth where it already exists. We need to view our town as a place of innovation and productivity, and plan with sustainability in mind. Communities that continue to expand outward take on more infrastructure costs. The ability to fund that new growth is a roadblock, since the cash infusion from the new growth is often used to pay for previous infrastructure. Any development should be assessed on whether it will or won’t negatively impact our roads and schools, and it must enhance our quality of life.
There have been a few annexation proposals this past year that included a possible Industrial Park and possible data centers. The citizens of Purcellville emphatically oppose this type of development; and I will continue to be their voice as Mayor
Purcellville is a place that people chose to visit, live, work, and retire in due to being a place the quality of life people desire. We have retained our small town charm by maintaining a small footprint and maintaining a walkable town.
4. What are your ideas for managing Town water and sewer rates while also limiting debt?
It is the sewer system that incurs the most cost, due to the 2010 upgrade. The Town could do a Request for Proposal to look at the possible benefits of outsourcing plant operations – like many other municipalities. Costs could be lowered by automating some of the operations, and selling Town excess water capacity to construction sites and highway improvement operations, for example.
We can also explore the idea of renewable energy to operate the plant. We have implemented the nutrient credit program on the Aberdeen property, that has brought $920,000 in revenue for the Town.
We learned from Stantec, a company hired by staff, that half the utility rate goes to support Town growth and the other half is the actual cost. If we keep building more, we trade a short-term increase in revenue, with a long-term liability of maintaining and servicing the new infrastructure needed. This type of growth does not pay for itself and the premise of annexing more land into Town to alleviate our utility rates is the exact reason we have increasing costs in the first place.
5. If you support monetizing Town assets, what is one project you would like to see completed in the next two years? How could it be done? If you are not in support of monetizing Town assets, why?
Since growth doesn’t pay for itself, we must seek creative ways to run the Town of Purcellville, instead of relying on the past decades of rapid growth policies. These policies have created increases in taxes, utilities, services, and traffic, to name a few.
As I mentioned before, the nutrient and carbon credit program on the Aberdeen property has created income from a Town property that has sat dormant since its purchase in 2010. In addition, I would like to apply for grants to restore the buildings on this property. Equestrian groups are ready with a plan to use part of the property for their recreational use. There are numerous other groups that would like access to the property for other uses as well. I supported Mayor Kwasi Fraser’s initiatives regarding monetizing viable assets that the Town owns to help pay down our debt, and I will continue to advocate for that rather than relying on raising taxes and growing the Town such that it is unrecognizable.