The formal process to create a quasi-municipality at Snowshoe called a resort area district (RAD) took a step forward during the Pocahontas County Commission meeting on April 15.
During last month’s meeting, Snowshoe Mountain CEO Frank DeBerry presented a petition to the commission to create a RAD. By law, the commission is required to rule whether the petition is complete within 60 days.
Snowshoe resident Ira Maupin told the commission he was pleased that the petition states that no property value-based assessment would be collected in the first three years of RAD operation.
“I’m satisfied with the provision that’s been put in there that would delay this for three years,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to see how the RAD system is working and, I hope, build some reserve funds that will allow us to do almost everything that the RAD is trying to spend that money on.”
The RAD would build up funds by collecting a resort service fee, up to five percent, on a variety of retail transactions, not including lodging.
Pocahontas County Chief Tax Deputy Tabitha Mann asked DeBerry how a property assessment would be billed. Mann noted that the Sheriff is required to sell property with unpaid taxes, but that the law forbids foreclosure on properties with unpaid RAD assessments.
DeBerry responded that RAD assessments could be billed separately from property tax bills, and that the RAD would be responsible for any costs associated with RAD assessment billing. DeBerry added that the issue before the commission was simply to rule on the completeness of the petition, and that more than three years would be available to work out billing issues, if the RAD petition is approved.
Snowshoe resident Richard Martin raised concerns with elections and representation on the RAD board.
“What we’ve got is a situation where 2,000-odd property owners will only have three votes on a seven-person board,” he said.
DeBerry noted that six out of seven votes would be necessary for major RAD undertakings.
“The six of seven is set up to make sure that no one entity within the board can run roughshod over someone else,” he said. “A budgeting process, bylaws, any service fees, any assessments – all of those things require six of seven.”
The commission voted 3-0 that the RAD petition is complete. The commission is now responsible to notify all affected property owners and schedule a public meeting within 60 days of notifications to vote on the RAD petition.
If 25 percent of affected property owners oppose the petition, a RAD cannot be created for one year.
The Commission scheduled a public meeting to hear comments on the proposed RAD for Monday, July 7, at 5:30 p.m. A public meeting to consider and act on the RAD petition is scheduled for Saturday, July 19, at 10 a.m.
In other business, the County Commission:
– Approved a letter to state officials opposing funding cuts to senior citizens programs.
– Tabled action on a county random drug testing policy.
– Approved a resolution in support of a $5,000 Historic Landmarks Commission grant application for improvements to the Oldest House in Marlinton.
The next regular County Commission meeting is scheduled for May 6 at 8:30 a.m.