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Posted January 18, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Town, county to revisit 522 Corridor issues

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL - Leaders in Warren County and Front Royal have to wait until after the General Assembly session to revisit ways on how the town can recoup lost revenue from the U.S. 522 corridor.

County Administrator Douglas Stanley and Town Manager Steven Burke gave an update on the issue to the liaison committee on Thursday. Neither of two proposals will come up before the General Assembly this session.

"So we'll continue to research other options available to help the town offset some of the lost revenue," Burke said.

Mayor Timothy Darr said he plans to ask council members if they want to meet with the U.S. 522 corridor committee and reconvene that panel next month. Supervisors and county officials likely would be asked to join, according to the mayor.

"We kind of hinged on that," Darr said. "We were kind of waiting to see how that came out and it didn't come out the way any of us liked to have had so we're probably going to re-engage that committee."

Dels. C. Todd Gilbert, Beverly Sherwood and Michael Webert met in December with town and county officials to discuss, among other issues, the desire by the localities to help Front Royal recoup revenue lost by providing water and sewer service to businesses in the U.S. 522-340 corridor. Delegates dismissed the county's proposal to raise meals and lodging taxes.

An angle proposed by Gilbert to seek changes in the town charter to allow Front Royal the ability to redistribute utility enterprise revenue to the general fund did not move forward. The proposal also sought to give the town authority to impose a fee on the water users in the corridor.

"What we understood was that proposal would not be received very well so we did not forward that with our charter," Burke said.

Darr lauded Gilbert's thinking on the fly.

"It was probably a good idea on Delegate Gilbert's part," Darr said. "He was trying to find a way of doing it, but there were a lot of issues involved. If the General Assembly didn't like that one charter change, would that eliminate all of our charter changes. ... Still too many unknown, and they needed a pretty quick turnaround even though they had a little bit of time because it could have been an amendment."

Stanley asked whether the idea merited a second look. Darr said the committee could revisit the proposal.

The administrator noted it took a long time to coordinate a meeting with the representatives whose districts cover the localities.

Delegates indicated that after the General Assembly session they would be willing to meet with town and county officials to continue the discussion about options the localities could consider, Burke said.

Supervisor Richard H. Traczyk wanted to know if the three delegates were helping or hurting them.

"On this particular issue I think they're willing to help," Darr replied.

Stanley noted that before the redistricting the town had one representative, Del. Clay Athey, to go to with concerns or requests. Now the town has three and each delegate also serves other jurisdictions.

Vice Mayor N. Shae Parker criticized the local delegation.

"Other jurisdictions and some things -- what goes on in Richmond is more important than what goes on here," Parker said.

Traczyk added, "So I'm beginning to see."

"We have one delegate that won't take anything," Parker said, but did not identify the representative.

Darr said, "Good effort on everyone, I mean we tried."

The mayor noted that the town has sought assistance from the Commission on Local Government on the matter.

Parker recently voiced his concerns about the issue and recommended that the town exercise its right, according to an agreement with the county reached in 1998, to annex the corridor property. As Parker has noted, the county would lose some revenue to the town but can continue to collect certain levies on the properties and businesses.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com


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