22 March 2014, Vol.1, No.21 > PART I > WHAT’S A ‘SNOWSHOE RESORT AREA DISTRICT’?
The POCAHONTAS CRIER
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PART I >WHAT’S A…
‘SNOWSHOE RESORT AREA DISTRICT’?
Where 48% approve; 2% oppose; & 50% are undecided – of those who own property!
As many of you already know, the Chief Operations Officer promoting the ‘Snowshoe Resort Area District’ (SRAD) is Frank DeBerry who on 18 March 2014 gave a presentation to the Pocahontas County Commission for them to ‘review for completeness’ on or before 17 May 2014. In common language that ‘review’ means that IF two of the three county commissioners approve the creation of SRAD – then ‘it shall thereafter be a public corporation, but without any power to levy or collect ad valorem taxes’! SRAD will become an entity unto itself where the actual ‘homeowners’ will be footing the bills & debts with the ‘equity’ in their property! Yet the alleged purpose for creating SRAD is to absorb & supplement the duties of what is currently called the ‘Mountain Top Assessment’ (MTA), for Public Safety, Fire Protection, Shuttle Transportation, and Common/ Shared Roads and Grounds Maintenance. While the MTA is Snowshoe Mountain, Inc. appointed persons, the SRAD will have seven (7) ‘elected’ persons representing: three (3) for Property Owners; two (2) for ‘Resort Operator’ (Snowshoe); 0ne (1) for Owners of Undeveloped Parcels; & one (1) for Commercial Property Owners. Setting rhetoric aside, that’s four (4) for Snowshoe & three (3) for Property Owners…since Snowshoe owns the majority of undeveloped land & the commercial property. Altogether, the budget is estimated to be from $2.5 Million - $3.5 Million or thereabouts at this time. But there currently are NO TERM LIMITS for those once first elected who will then draft all the BY-LAWS for everyone else to follow – including any future elections – and Snowshoe will hold 4 of the 7 seats! Welcome to ‘corporate-fascism’! Sounds similar, doesn’t it, to the proposed park called the ‘Birthplace of Rivers National Monument’ where the DETAILS COME AFTER the ‘designation’!
Ordinarily the first thought that comes to mind is, ‘So What?’ The majority of the approximate 2200+ ‘Property Owners’ are businesses and investors who use their particular parcels to wine & dine clients and provide ‘perks’ much like owning season tickets for sporting events and letting clients go to games, etc. – and while not using their properties all the time for themselves, they simply let Snowshoe rent them out to those that actually ski at ski-resorts! In any case, for tax-purposes, the properties of the commercial businesses are generally used as advertising for a ‘business-expense’, ‘tax-deduction’, and investment income, etc. Thus for commercial businesses that own property at Snowshoe & Silver Creek, no matter what it will cost them by the proposed SRAD, all expenses can become a ‘deduction’ in most cases from their taxes – but those same ‘deductions’ for increased expenses may NOT apply to individual, non-business, property owners!
And a sinister side of things is that perhaps more than half of all current property owners only know what Snowshoe is telling them, and not the actual legal facts that the proposed SRAD can borrow upwards to $40 MILLION – 80% of which will be secured by the residential improved real property – enforced by government ‘liens’ – and only needs a simple majority for approval, and once done cannot be undone! Enforced ‘liens’ are eventually paid from the property-equity – which for all practical purposes is the ‘homeowner’ – not the developer, resort operator, or owner of forest land or farm land, etc.
A curious odyssey that comes to mind is why have two groups, i.e., MTA & SRAD, essentially doing the same thing while the MTA is corporate-appointed & the SRAD is elected? The answer being given: the MTA conducts the public services normally performed by a local government or a Resort Master Association (MRA)! But while the MTA is limited in its scope, the RAD will for all practical purposes will become a ‘corporate government’ with lien powers, but not with levying power, to ensure enforcement, including its own law enforcement! But whether SRAD completely finances its own police force or is subsidized or paid in full by the county commission or county sheriff – meaning county taxpayers – is not yet clarified and depends on the ‘agreement’ reached with the county commission – after its approval of course!
Regardless, in that respect, a RAD would fall under the historic definition of ‘corporate-fascism’ whereby corporations take on the powers of government! And in this case, the boundaries would take in all of Snowshoe & Silver Creek – approximately 12,000+ acres – and nothing at this time south of Rt. 66, thus those properties being developed at the base of the mountain outside the SRAD boundaries would not be part of the proposed ‘mountain-government’ – or in the words of Snowshoe, ‘a quasi-municipality’! If this be the case, then why not simply form a ‘municipal corporation’ as in Durbin, Marlinton, and Hillsboro, etc.? Or isn’t it because Intrawest & Fortress are ‘developers’ and not ‘managers’ of resorts? And isn’t it also due to the fact that as a RAD, both Intrawest & Fortress can HAVE AS MUCH DEBT AS THEY WISH in order to cover their existing in excess of $1.5 BILLION? You see, if Snowshoe & Silver Creek were to become a ‘municipal corporation’, they would be LIMITED BY LAW as to how much DEBT they could have upon themselves – but as SRAD – there’s no limits – after all the new seven-person board of SRAD makes all the rules! Can you smell the roses & flowers yet ‘homeowners’?
Essentially a new ‘resort tax’, called a ‘resort service fee’, will be implemented, in addition to the MTA assessments, on all retail sales & services for everything within the SRAD boundaries. The proposal calls for an immediate 2% ‘assessment’, normally called an ‘impost’, ‘excise’, or ‘sales’ tax, but it can also go as high as 5%, but no increase is promised for at least three (3) years – but the exact ‘resort service fee’ rate has yet to be finalized! Yet it’s proposed to take effect on 01 December 2014! Meanwhile, all property owners will continue paying their MTA assessments relative to their property value – but whenever they eat out, drink out, rent skis or participate in any retail sales or services on the mountain – then they too will pay the proposed RAD ‘sales tax’, aka, ‘resort service fee’!
While Snowshoe is alleging that all MTA assessments AND
‘resort service fees’ will go towards ‘Public Safety, Fire Protection, Shuttle Transportation, and Common/Shared Roads and Grounds Maintenance’, etc., it has also told property owners that without approval, ‘roads will simply fall into disrepair’! While they recognize that the county cannot support THEIR ROADS on the mountain – they also recognize that IF they became a ‘local municipality’ that they would have expanded options – including the power to levy or collect ad valorem taxes’! But as a ‘local municipality’, THAT would require open elections, term limits, limited debt, and a democratic process – while as a RAD – Snowshoe has total corporate control! And that includes all its roads when otherwise those roads would be maintained by the WV-DOH!
Ironically two items of interest find themselves in a dilemma. One, once SRAD is a created reality, it will be zoned so that NO LIQUOR STORE(s) can be operated on the mountain, all alcoholic beverages will either have to be brought to the resorts, or purchased in the various restaurants that have an ABC license. And second, when it comes to a ‘capital improvement’, there is no mention of the resorts needing a new sewage-waste-treatment facility, what is mentioned is that all ‘wasterwater will continue to be run by the Pocahontas County Public Service Commission’ [sic]. And according to the Public Service District (PDS) the ‘fee’ for those services will have to be raised no less than about $71.00 per/month per/household for all within the Snowshoe/Durbin PDS…and some charged even higher costs per/month! Why so high? Because the cost to build a new sewage-treatment plant will most likely exceed $20+ Million & then some! And according to the new RAD law, that cost may not be payable via the ‘resort service fee’! In short, it’s an uncertain future for sure! Ask someone on the board of the PDS!
Now while Intrawest claims it’s associated with eleven (11) resorts at the present time, persons in the State Legislature swear that its really only five (5) pursuant to the disastrous 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, the HQ for Intrawest. And little to no mention of the $1.5 Billion Debt as per the 2010 Winter Olympics has been referenced outside of the WV State Legislature when it considered the Resort Area District legislation. So whether this concept of SRAD is simply a method to keep Intrawest (a foreign corporation) & Donald Trump’s Fortress Hedge-Fund on ‘life support’ until such time as they are forced to file bankruptcy remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, creating a method to raise about $3 Million with a ‘resort service fee’ will take a very long time to pay off such a massive corporate debt when those funds are to be designated for local resort purposes only! Ah, but getting as high as $40 Million using the ‘equity’ of the improved properties of the ‘homeowners’ should keep the ‘life-support’ going a little longer – before the inevitable! And let’s not forget what a New York Hedge Fund under the control of Donald Trump can do via the ‘health & welfare’ clauses for the managers of those funds!
That’s why Intrawest is in the proverbial ‘rock & hard place’ since as a RAD they can control everything & HOPE TO SURVIVE; while as a ‘municipal corporation’ they have to endure a democratic process via public elections, debt limitations & such; and IF forced into bankruptcy – the massive Debt will be gone & the resort silent unless a good resort management company takes over – OR – if the State of West Virginia took it over, as it does state parks, and relegates the day to day operations to Pocahontas County since its the folks in this county who already keep the mountain resorts open day to day! The big difference would be that all the employees at Snowshoe & Silver Creek united in a ‘Workers CO-OP’ would SHARE THE WEALTH with 60% to the State, and 40% to the Workers & this county! That’s a ‘LIVING WAGE’ compared to a ‘Minimum Wage’! Geewiz, what do most folks do when they have more money to spend? And isn’t that what a prosperous economy is all about?
In the meantime, here is what some famous folks have said about the MERGER of Corporations & Government:
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power." – Benito Mussolini, Fascist Leader of Italy
"Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism'.
I'm afraid, based on my own long experience that fascism will come to America in the name of national security." – Sen. Huey Long, Louisiana
"Fascism is capitalism in decay." – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
"Friendly Fascism portrays two conflicting trends in the United States and other countries of the so-called ‘free world’. The first is a slow and powerful drift toward greater concentration of power and wealth in a repressive Big Business-Big Government partnership. This drift leads down the road toward a new and subtly manipulative form of corporatist serfdom." – Bertram Gross, Author, ‘Friendly Fascism’
Ask any employee working ‘on the mountain’ if they feel their wages are equal to the demands of their employment – or – if they would be better off Sharing the Wealth with the corporate-owners? Come to think of it, all the employees would be far better off Sharing the Wealth within a ‘Workers CO-OP’…since there would be no corporate-owners or any ‘masser/slave’ serfdom!
THIS TIME…there’s no excuse…
IT’S YOUR CHOICE…
TO CHANGE FOR THE BETTER!
Just say ‘NO’ to those who want to keep this county in Poverty & Pauperism
– and –
Just SAY ‘YES’ to real Progress & Prosperity for the future!
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THE GREATER COMMON GOOD ALWAYS COMES BEFORE SELF OR ANY SELF-SERVING SPECIAL INTEREST!
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