The entire trajectory of the Town of Purcellville can be summarized in one word. Debt.
The massive debt the town incurred to build the wastewater treatment plant – which currently operates at just 40 percent capacity – stands at $33 million. There was a $6 million mandated upgrade to the facility – which was paid for with a taxpayer funded grant. But, the balance of the $33 million spent was a choice by the town to dramatically increase the capacity of the facility- on the hope that the rapid growth in and around Purcellville would continue. Tap fees – the cost to be hooked up the system – now run about fifty thousand dollars apiece. And, that would keep the debt manageable.
But with the additional extravagant and ill-advised spending by the town (including the $8.5 million for the new town hall) and the housing crash recession, town debt has now ballooned to $61 million in less than a decade …
There is no looking back, but there is a way to look forward.
Davenport, the financial adviser to the town says we need to build, build, build. And, that is exactly what the present town council intends to do, if actions by the new majority are any indication. Build, build, build despite the forced spending that goes along with it.
For example the approved Mayfair development includes 262 residential units and 19 acres of commercial/industrial building in an environmentally sensitive area. It is well north of the present boundary lines of the town and will spur more development. This in turn will give a good excuse to build the Northern Collector Road. The initiation of the NCR was negotiated by the Town of Purcellville and the county as proffers from Brookfield Autumn Hill/Mayfair. People along the road who want to be annexed will ask for boundary line adjustments – moving land from county to town control – because they are easier to negotiate than annexations. Those who do not want to be annexed could have their property confiscated by eminent domain. Wright Farm residents will be affected as well.
Growth used to be financed by proffers from developers – funds needed to pay for the expensive infrastructure, including roads that would serve the new development. In recent years the Loudoun County region has encouraged growth by offering much less burdensome terms for builders. Now, rather than the investor paying for the impacts a development has on the community … your and I, the taxpayer, pay for it. Look at your water bill – the fees have gone up because the residents are paying for the increase in the facility capacity- something that was a deliberate choice of the town – to accommodate future growth. Roads and schools and fire and rescue are now largely paid for by us. Every citizen of this state also pays for every grant this town receives.
The citizens of Purcellville have a decision to make. Do they want to live in a massively bigger town, with chain stores you can find anywhere and fewer small businesses?
Or, do they want to keep citizens in the growth and development driver’s seat – as staying informed and vocal gives the citizens a choice in their future? Engage with today’s town council and mayor. There is hope in our newly elected leaders. Tap into that and get involved in the future of your town. The solution to paying down the debt is to consider the costs that come with explosive and rapid development.