Schultz Weighs in On Incorporation

June 6th, 2014 No Comments

Foreword of Clarification:
Director James Schultz has done a lot of personal research into the issue of incorporation and his article is his own opinion. Some LLA members apparently have interpreted his article as representing the position of the entire LLA Board of Directors, but this is not the case.

The LLA Board of Directors has not made a group decision on whether incorporation is right for the LLA Community. In fact, the BoD can not and should not make this decision….it is up to the members of the Community to decide the question of incorporation.

What the LLA BoD DOES support (along with the previous 3 LLA BoD’s) is the ongoing effort of the MIOC to provide information and analysis of the risks and benefits of incorporation. The BoD encourages every LLA resident to become familiar with the information on the LLA web site MIOC page and to attend one of the Town Hall meetings scheduled for 10 and 12 July. The next step in the process is to gather approximately 2500 signatures on a petition to Frederick County asking for permission to draft a Charter for the prospective new town. Only after a Charter is written and the structure and limitations of the new town government are spelled out can the decision on incorporation finally be made. The decision must be made by a vote wherein every registered voter of Frederick County who lives within the proposed town boundaries has the opportunity to say yeah or nay on the proposed Charter.

Hi Folks,

As a new member of your Board of Directors I spent a good amount of time researching and talking to people about the possibility of incorporating the Lake Linganore community into a “town”. There was a lot of material to digest and strong opinions on both sides of the table. When I was all said and done, however, I concluded that Incorporation was (and is) probably the right thing for our community to do, and the reasons I came to that conclusion are something I hope to share with you today.

To start, let’s agree that Incorporation is a complex and scary subject. Most people, when first presented with the idea, tend to be wary of higher taxes and another layer of government (which in our case is a municipality, or the ‘town’ of Lake Linganore at Eaglehead). There are good reasons, however, for unincorporated areas to decide to self-govern, and in our case the most compelling reasons are listed below.

Every taxpayer who lives in LLA pays income taxes. Most of those taxes are federal, but a good chunk of that money goes to the state of Maryland. Did you ever wonder where that money goes? Well, some of it stays in Annapolis, but a significant portion is returned back to the *local government* where those taxpayers live. Since Lake Linganore isn’t a town, that money goes to the County. While it would be nice to think that Frederick County is taking that money (about a million dollars a year) and putting it right back into our streets and our other infrastructure, the reality is that doesn’t happen. Lake Linganore has always taken responsibility for ourselves, paid by the HOA dues from each homeowner. As a town, however, that money the County is receiving would come directly back to *us*, which is about 10 million dollars in the next 10 years. It’s true the cost of being a town isn’t free, but based on the findings of the MIOC (who spent an exhaustive amount of time researching similar municipalities across the state), something around 80% of that money is still ‘net’ income to our community. That’s 800k/year or 8M in the next decade that we can use (and will need) to maintain our roads and infrastructure. Now, here’s the kicker. A Reserve Study recently completed for the LLA shows that we should be putting $750k MORE per year into our reserves to maintain our infrastructure than we are right now. As an HOA that translates into a 24% increase in LLA dues for EVERY member. While I don’t have any reason to believe that the Board of Directors plans on raising dues anytime soon, you can only kick that can down the road for so long. On the other hand, the money we could receive if we were a town would largely eliminate that potential dues increase. In short, incorporation could *save* the residents of LLA money – not cost them money.

Finally, in addition to getting back the money we’re already paying, the town would also benefit from the commercial tax base that will be created in the next decade as businesses are created within the community at the “Town Center” near Oakdale High School. This is even more revenue we give to the County if we don’t incorporate.

Okay, maybe ‘respect’ isn’t the right word, but as a town Lake Linganore will have access to financial instruments (like bonds or low interest loans) and grants (free money) that we don’t have as an HOA. As a town we can also issue (and control) our own planning, zoning, and environmental impacts, ensuring our residents control how and what is built in our Villages. We could also create our own public services (like a police force), but once again – the decision is ours.

When I first started to research this issue, my first question was ‘What about the lake?’ The last thing I wanted (and I expect you are the same) is for Lake Linganore, our trail system, or any of our wonderful amenities to become public. Well folks, private stays private. The HOA would stay in place and all of things we cherish about living here would stay ours. Making sure Lake Linganore stays ‘private’ was the first and most important question the MIOC answered and if that were not the case this effort would have never gotten off the ground.

Well, there are a couple. First, someone has to run the place. We’ll need a Mayor and perhaps three Aldermen. Probably a town planner and some administrative staff. The money is there to pay for these positions (and much of what LLA does will transfer over, washing out a good bit of the cost), but we’ll still need people. It is my belief, however, that with a base of 8,000+ residents, we can find a few to stand up and serve. Who knows – it might be you. The second ‘catch’ is keeping the new government in check. That can be mostly addressed in the Charter, but we’ll want to make sure that taxes can’t be raised and services created unless we (the residents of Lake Linganore) approve them. Finally, it’s going to cost a few dollars to get us there. Given the benefits, however, it seems [to me at least] as money not just well spent – but well invested.

In the next few months, residents of Lake Linganore will be presented with an opportunity to sign a petition. That petition has a single purpose: Allow this process to continue. Signing the petition does NOT make us a town. What it does, however, is allow us to create a Charter that will outline exactly what our town would look like and what powers would be granted to the governing body. That Charter would then be brought to a vote and at that time you will decide if this is the right decision for your community. Without the petition, however, we’ll never get that chance.
So, regardless of where you are on this issue, take the time to learn more and make the decision for yourself. A great deal of information is available at:

Further, the MIOC can be contacted with questions at, and there will be a series of workshops held throughout the community this summer. If you have questions or concerns, that’s okay (actually, it’s important to the process). What we shouldn’t let happen, however, is for this movement to fail simply because ‘status quo’ (the way things are) is an easier choice.


James Allen Schultz

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