By Alex Bridges -- email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- Town leaders say a change in the state code would allow Front Royal to collect certain taxes from the U.S. 340-522 corridor in Warren County.
The town/county liaison committee made up of officials and elected leaders from both localities heard at its meeting Thursday an update on efforts to resolve the long-standing issue.
Front Royal Mayor Timothy Darr expressed optimism about the collaborative efforts of the town and county leaders. Such a change to the agreement between the town and county would help Front Royal recoup some of the increasing costs to provide water and sewer to the properties, according to Darr.
"So this is what we hope will be the end result of it," Darr said after the meeting.
"I think this goes a long way toward resolving that issue of ... the lost revenue," said County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley.
"It's definitely in the right direction," Darr said.
The localities reached the 340-522 corridor agreement in 1998. Front Royal provides water and sewer service to the commercial properties along the corridor, which lies in the county near the Interstate 66 interchange to Fairgrounds Road. However, the town no longer can collect revenue as part of the water and sewer contracts.
Meals and lodging taxes are paid by the customer to the businesses that charge the levy.
Proposed amendments to the state code, if approved by the general assembly, would allow the county to collect meals and lodging taxes from certain businesses in the corridor and then remit the revenue to the town, according to Stanley. The legislation would allow the town and county to amend the original agreement.
The corridor committee at its meeting June 7 discussed several proposed rates including 2 cents and 4 cents. Moving forward, county supervisors have indicated that they want the town council to suggest a rate for each tax, according to Stanley.
Douglas Napier and Blair Mitchell, attorneys for Front Royal and Warren County, respectively, have been working on drafting the proposed amendment, according to officials for the localities. Leaders of both localities have said they hope the representatives in the general assembly for the town and county can take the proposed legislation to the next session in January. Supervisors and council members would need to endorse the legislation beforehand.
The county has proposed to raise the meals and lodging tax in the corridor and then split the increase with the town. Attorneys for the localities have met to discuss the drafting of proposed legislation which officials say they hope local legislators would carry to the next session of the Virginia General Assembly.
Also at the meeting, the committee:
- Discussed the 2030 Front Royal Small Urban Area Transportation Study which the Virginia Department of Transportation had suspended indefinitely. Town and county leaders expressed an interest in continuing that study.
- Heard from Stanley regarding the possibility of raising cigarette taxes in both localities. Stanley advised the committee that state code bars the county from imposing cigarette taxes and thus any increase could come only within the town. Darr noted he would take that information back to town council but said his colleagues didn't want to raise the tax levy unless the county did the same. Leaders feared raising the rate in town would drive consumers to the county to buy cigarettes for less.