Special Community Benefits District Information
Questions? Email: VPHeraldHarbor@gmail.com
Herald Harbor Citizen’s Association
FAQ’s about Special Community Benefits District
1. What is a Special Community Benefit District?
A Special Community Benefit District (SCBD) is a geographic district of the County established by legislation of the County Council to provide public benefits to properties that would not otherwise receive these benefits. Herald Harbor is re-purposing our Special Community Benefit District (SCBD). This means that homeowners in our community pay an additional assessment, collected through property taxes, administered by the County, that provides the funds for the following:
acquiring, improving, and maintaining all community-owned and leased real and personal property or any interest in real property necessary to accomplish community projects;
providing special police protection and/or community security services;
providing recreational facilities directly related to the community; and
funding the administrative expenses to carry out these purposes, including mailing expenses, secretarial costs, insurance costs, audit fees, attorney’s fees, and the repayment of any loan.
2. Who is responsible for our Special Community Benefit District?
Herald Harbor Citizens Association (HHCA) Board is responsible for working within the County’s guidelines and laws on all expenditures related to money collected under our SCBD petition attached (see #10 below). The community must specifically approve expenditures involving real property, including purchasing of property. Each year the HHCA Board and SCBD Committee creates a proposed budget for the coming year and sets a proposed tax rate for the SCBD based on anticipated needs. The Budget is published in the November newsletter and sent to all members of HHCA. This process, as well as all general HHCA meetings and SCBD Committee meetings, are open to all citizens of Herald Harbor. The meetings will always be published on our community website and in our newsletters that are mailed to HHCA members.
3. What will I be charged?
Our annual assessment rate will be based on the approved budget that HHCA Board/Committee turns into the County annually. This amount could vary based on the approved budget submitted but can be no higher than $250 per year.
4. Where can I learn more about Special Community Benefit Districts and Codes?
The law concerning Special Community Benefit Districts appears in Article 4, Title 7 of the Anne Arundel County Code. The Code is available on the County’s website at www.aacounty.org. The Office of the Budget has developed administrative guidelines to implement the law. The following guidelines include the process for establishing and operating a Special Community Benefit District.
5. Where do I mail my signed petition for our Special Community Benefit Districts?
You may mail your signed petition to our HHCA Board Member, Ted Sheils at the following address:
Herald Harbor SCBD
c/o Ted Sheils
728 N. Riverside Drive
Crownsville, MD 21032
Any petition given or mailed to HHCA will be forwarded to the Anne Arundel County Budget Office.
6. Who tallies the petition votes and verifies their legitimacy?
The signed petitions are collected by the HHCA Board member and sent to the County for verification. The Special Taxing District Coordinator reviews the petitions and will determines if each petition is valid.
7. How do I know if my property will be subject to the SCBD assessment?
Each “improved property” is subject to the assessment. Improved property is an individual tax account containing one or more principal structures on it. A principal structure in Herald Harbor will most likely be a dwelling. An accessory structure such as a shed does not count. The number of parcels is not relevant.
For example, if you own a property that is identified under one tax account consisting of two parcels and a house is located on that property then that tax account will be subject to the assessment. If your property consists of 2 different tax accounts and a house is located on one of those accounts then only one tax account will be subject to the assessment. If you own a property identified under one tax account and there is no principal structure located on that property, then that tax account will not be subject to the assessment.
You can most likely tell if your tax account would be subject to the assessment by locating your tax account information at the State Department of Assessments and Taxation website. If there are any numbers entered in the field “Above Grade Living Area” then your tax account would likely be subject to the assessment. If it does not then you would likely not be subject to the assessment.
If you are still unclear about if or how your property will be assessed please email email@example.com to help you determine your status.
8. How many votes does each resident get regarding the petition? Who is required to sign the petition?
In order to re-enact the SCBD we need approval from a simple majority (50% + 1) of the owners of improved property. There are roughly 800 homes in Herald Harbor so we need approximately 400 + 1 affirmative signed petitions.
An owner gets 1 “vote” per improved property. According to Section 4-7-101(4), both a “husband and wife” owner must sign the petition in order for their vote to count. A “partnership” must also have 2 signatures. A “legal entity” owner is only required to obtain 1 signature from a legal representative. In the case of “multiple ownership” again only 1 signature of a legal representative is required. Each of the entities described above will register 1 vote if cast.
If your improved property is held in a trust, please submit a copy of the first page of the trust and a copy of the signature page of the trust in addition to signing the petition.
If someone on the deed is deceased, the county requires a copy of their death certificate in addition to a signed petition which should be signed in accordance with Section 4-7-101(4) referenced above.
9. I already signed an SCBD petition. Do I need to sign another one?
Most likely yes. The petition was first circulated in 2018. Since that time two important revisions were made to the petition which required approval from the county and invalidated any signed petitions up to that point. The petition that needs to be signed has a blue and green HHCA SCBD logo at the bottom of the petition. If you have signed any other petition prior to April of 2021 it will not count and you will need to sign the current one.
10. What changes were made to the petition that required county approval?
Three changes have been made within the last year:
The “purposes” for which the funds can be used, as stated on the revised petition now includes “providing…community security services” in addition to “providing special police protection.” Doing so broadens the range of security related services that can be provided with SCBD funds whether it be organizing a community watch, paying for some kind of security patrol, or simply improving lighting in areas that may too dark and potentially unsafe.
The geographic “limits” of the SCBD area has been amended and Section G has been removed. A number of residents in Section G asked to be removed from the SCBD area as they overlap with a portion of the Palisades. After a very long review period the County has allowed us to remove Section G. See Item #12 below.
A draft revision of the HHCA by-laws has been submitted to the County and is currently under review. The by-laws have been modified to facilitate the possible reinstatement of the SCBD. The revisions include….
11. What types of uses can the funds be use for? What can they NOT be used for?
Funds can only be used for purposes as listed on the current petitions. The petitions states “the purposes of the district are:
acquiring, improving, and maintaining community real and personal property or any interest in real property necessary to accomplish community-wide projects:
providing special police protection and/or community security services;
providing recreational activities and facilities directly related to the community; and
funding the administrative expenses to carry out these purposes, including mailing expenses, secretarial costs, insurance costs, audit fees, attorney’s fees, and the repayment of any loan.”
Funds CANNOT be used for purposes not listed on the petition. Each annual budget “shall provide a detailed listing of the purposes to which the funds are applied […]” The use of funds, as part of the budget, must be determined before-hand and voted on and approved on an annual basis. This prevents funds from being used impulsively and without consensus.
12. Will the budget be made available before the annual SCBD meeting each year and if so how?
Yes. The budget will be made publicly available via mail, internet, posting at the Community Center sign and in the HHCA newsletter in advance of the annual budget meeting.
13. Is there a cap on the amount that can be assessed?
Yes, the by-laws state that the assessed amount cannot exceed $250. The amount assessed any given year will range between $0 - $250. The specific assessment amount for any given year would be determined by a budget that is submitted to the county and voted on each year. The assessed amounts each year therefore cannot exceed those provided for in the budget for that same year. If a budget is not submitted for any given year then it cannot be approved and the assessment for that year would be $0.