Crofton should forget about incorporating the special tax district into a city or town, and residents should lose their "moat mentality" by reaching out beyond community boundaries, a committee studying the tax proposal has concluded.
"The Focus Group feels very strongly that there is little value to an incorporation that covers only the area within the existing tax district," the committee said in a report released yesterday.
Moreover, "there is absolutely no evidence of a groundswell of demand for incorporation among the residents of Crofton," the report added.
In blunt language, the seven members appointed by the president of the civic association in April said that limiting the focus to the tax district bounded by U.S routes 3 and 450 and state Route 424 "isolates the community and reinforces what has been referred to as our 'moat mentality.' "
For 18 months, Crofton officials have been exploring the idea of incorporating into a town to increase their political clout, particularly in the areas of zoning and enforcing local regulations.
But committee Chairman David A. Espie Jr., a 27-year Crofton resident who was the civic association's first president, said the community should be able to get what it wants from the county without self-determination.
"We have become so caught up in the trials and tribulations of the Crofton Tax District that we have lost touch with reality," he wrote in a memo to the committee. "The real world is what is happening outside.
"In fact, the [Greater Crofton Council] has been much more vocal, and indeed effective, in bringing attention to the perils which exist in our own back yard. It is time that we in Crofton forgo our provincial, self-sufficient, even smug, attitude and accept our natural leadership role in this challenge."
In many ways, the committee's report parallels a comprehensive study completed in March by the Institute of Governmental Affairs at the University of Maryland at College Park.
That report found that by incorporating, the community of 10,000 residents could nearly eliminate its property tax of 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and still raise $200,000 more than its annual budget of $550,000 by increasing its share of state aid.
But the study also questioned whether county officials would support a move that would extract money from their coffers in an era of drastic cuts in state aid to localities.
The report from community members comes to the same conclusion. "It is unclear what Crofton could offer to the county to make incorporation attractive," it said.
Committee members also worried that such a municipality may have to assume expensive services the county now provides.
"It is very clear that the idea of a 'financial windfall' as a result of incorporation is wishful thinking," committee members wrote.
The association's board of directors is to discuss the focus group's report at a meeting Wednesday. Incorporation is on the agenda of a general membership meeting Sept. 21.
"The report did exactly what I hoped it would do," said Edwin F. Dosek, civic association president. "I don't think there is anything that they missed or misjudged."
The committee urged Crofton residents to concentrate on issues such as planning and zoning.
If that could be done, members said, "there would be little need to make major changes in the form of community governance."