Frequently (and infrequently) Asked Questions about Bull Run Mountain and BRMCA
What is the Bull Run Mountain Civic Association?
The BRMCA is a 501(c)(4) established by the original developer of Bull Run Mountain Estates in 1968 to operate recreational facilities subsidized by the developer. The membership built the clubhouse and other facilities including a basketball/tennis court, a swimming pool and a picnic area. When the developer ceased operations in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the platted road rights-of-way throughout the entire development, the fire pond and certain other properties were deeded over to the BRMCA.
Is there a copy of the document that lays out the relationship between the BRMCA and the County Service District relative to the roads generally contained within the Bull Run Mountain Service District?
What are the differences between BRMCA members and non-members?
The BRMCA is a private non-profit organization whose administrative costs must be generated through dues, along with clubhouse rental revenue.
Residents who feel it is part of their civic duty to support the BRMCA’s efforts on their behalf voluntarily pay the $50 annual dues. About 100 mountain residents financially support the BRMCA. The Board greatly appreciates their contribution as it keeps the lights on.
Residents who become members by paying the annual dues by April 1 of each year receive a 30% discount off a one-day personal-use clubhouse rental.
The dues are used to pay insurance and utilities on the clubhouse, pay for the annual newsletters which are mailed to all mountain residents, not just members, and pay legal expenses. The dues also go to fund improvements on the clubhouse. For instance, we put a new roof on and new heating system in the clubhouse in 2014.
Being a member or non-member has no influence on the recommendations of the roads committee. The county maintenance statistics which have been confirmed across multiple county offices show that BRMCA membership does not equal priority road maintenance or expedited snow removal.
Who are the BRMCA Directors?
The nine BRMCA Directors are mountain residents who have volunteered their time to serve their community. Directors serve three-year terms and each year, three of the nine positions go open for election.
Is the Roads Committee only open to BRMCA members?
No, the monthly meeting is open to all residents, regardless of affiliation with the BRMCA.
Currently we meet on the third Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the clubhouse, unless there are holidays or other conflicts which require a change in date. The meeting dates are published on the BRMCA.net web site calendar.
Is the monthly BRMCA meeting only open to BRMCA members?
No, the monthly meeting is open to all residents, regardless of affiliation with the BRMCA.
Currently we meet on the third Sunday of every month at 11:30 at the clubhouse, unless there are holidays or other conflicts which require a change in date. The meeting dates are published on the web site.
Who is responsible for setting the annual service district levy which pays for all roads maintenance?
This is set by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors annually. The BRMCA has no role in setting the service district levy.
Who is responsible for maintaining the roads on the mountain, and plowing them?
The County. The BRMCA has a long-term agreement with the Bull Run Mountain Service District and the Prince William County Department of Public Works. DPW is responsible for all roads maintenance. They hire contractors to do the work. The BRMCA is explicitly prohibited by the agreement from performing any maintenance on the roads without approval from the county.
Who hires the contractor?
Public Works selects the contractor through normal county competitive bid processes. The BRMCA is not involved in hiring the roads contractors.
Who does the contractor work for?
The Prince William County Public Works office.
Who pays the contractor?
The county. The roads coordinator does review the invoices with the county, as he is often the on-scene representative when the work is being done. But final payment approval and authority resides with Public Works.
What is the relationship between PW Public Works and the BRMCA?
The BRMCA does not set the roads maintenance policy. Rather, we make whole-of-community road maintenance and snow removal recommendations to the office of Public Works, who selects the maintenance and snow contractors, issues the task orders, pays the contractors, and has the final decision on how our community tax levy is allocated.
How does the BRMCA develop their road maintenance recommendations?
The Roads Committee POC typically drives the mountain roads four to six times a year and takes notes on the condition of the roadway and potential road maintenance items. The BRMCA and any residents in attendance during the monthly board meeting discuss the prioritization of our recommendation to the county through the lens of value. Value in this case refers to the number of residents served and the improvement in safety afforded by each road fix. The road maintenance budget, both total and remaining FY funds, are also taken into account. We also receive suggestions from residents, which are integrated into our recommendation to the county. All suggestions from residents, regardless of where the topic falls within our recommendation list, is forwarded to the office of Public Works.
What are the BRM and BRMCA related contracts with the county?
The Bull Run Mountain District Road Maintenance Agreement, dated 17 April 1990, establishes the service district and states that resident recommendations for road maintenance should flow through the BRMCA to the county.
The Amendment to the Bull Run Mountain Service District Road Maintenance Agreement, dated 27 July 2001, establishes a Roads Committee. Due to disagreement over verbiage used in an addendum to this amendment, the county concurrently no longer recognizes the Roads Committee and takes road related recommendations from the current Roads Committee. Regardless of county opinion of the validity of this Amendment, the original Agreement is still recognized as valid.
For more information about this topic, see the BRMCA.net homepage and Supervisor Candland Road Committee proposal on his PWC website.
What is the BRMCA stance on the special tax levy?
The county Board of Supervisors sets the amount of the tax levy each year based on what it determines the roads maintenance costs will be each year. The actual percentage of the levy, the “mill”, is determined by the currently assessed value of the property within the service district. It will vary from year to year as the assessed value changes.
Prior to the chip coating project, the mill levy was set at around 10 mils, or $10 for every $1,000 of assessed value. In order to pay off the $1M paving bond over 5 years, it was increased to about 20 mills by the county. That raised about $250,000 a year, with about $200,000 to make yearly bond payments and the remaining left for all maintenance costs.
Because $50,000 doesn’t go very far in the roads maintenance business (the snow plowing bill for Snowmageddon was almost $50,000), very little preventative maintenance was done on ditches, culverts and other road elements. The county, frankly, got behind on routine maintenance.
The BRMCA believes the special tax levy should be reduced to a lower-level, one which will allow for road maintenance, snow removal, and the resurfacing of roughly 20-25% of the roadways each year. Resurfacing is a task necessary to preserve the integrity of the roadway, lest it fall into disrepair (recall the gullied and potholed roads pre chip-coat?). We have recommended this approach to the county – gradually decreasing the mil levy back to around the 10 mill pre-chip coat days once we are caught up on maintenance.
I live on a VDOT-maintained road. Why do I also pay the special tax levy?
The service district was established along the boundaries of the Bull Run Mountain Estates subdivisions (in most cases) and aligns with the Service Authority (water) district. Over the life of this district, roads have been improved and in some cases taken over by VDOT, but the service district boundaries have not been redrawn (though often discussed with the county) since they were originally established.
Is the BRMCA transparent?
The BRMCA strives to operate in a transparent manner by having open meetings that any mountain resident can attend, by maintaining a web site, posting signs, publishing a newsletter, and encouraging residents to subscribe to our email list. All of this is done by volunteers. It takes time and effort to be transparent. Information has always been available, though residents have had to ask for information, or actually show up at a meeting.
We recognize the need to increase transparency by making information more readily available. Steps in this direction include adding prior and future monthly meeting notes and the road maintenance recommendation worksheet to the website. We welcome additional suggestions.
When the roads were originally chip-coated, we were told that salt could not be applied due to the porosity of the road surface. Why did the snow contractor use salt over the 2012-2013 winter?
The original county recommendation was that salt was too harsh for the porous chip-coat road surface. The professional roads maintenance staff at Public Works, based upon recent research on the topic, has changed its position on this and has determined that mild salt and brine could be used on a limited basis without damaging the road surface. To preserve the integrity of the road surface, we will continue to make recommendations for the limited use of mild salt and brine with the understanding that, without a storage facility, implementation will be based upon real-time availability. Per Public Works, this availability does not include county or state supplies. Rather, real-time procurement of salt must be done commercially. The county contractor will continue to leverage stone chips for traction on icy roads, with heavier amounts spread on switchbacks and north-facing roads.