County counter-offers on corridor taxes

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County has pitched another counter offer to Front Royal over tax collection in the U.S. 340-522 Corridor.

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to send Town Council yet another offer to share revenue from certain hotels and restaurants operating in the commercial-rich corridor north of Front Royal. The offer is one of about a half dozen deals pitched back and forth between the town and county.

The board has offered to provide to the town the equivalent of 30 percent of the meal taxes and 5 percent of the lodging taxes the county collects from applicable businesses in the corridor. The approved motion also states that the proposed agreement would include the Crooked Run West property in the “annexation immunity area” as long as the development does not demand more than 40,000 gallons of water per day.

Supervisors met in closed session toward the end of their regular meeting to discuss the matter. Supervisor Tony Carter made the motion in open session to offer a memorandum of understanding to the town to settle the corridor payment in lieu of taxes [PILOT] fees issue with the proposed revenue-sharing arrangement.

“I think this is something that you know is a long time coming … I think it would be better for the community from the standpoint that people don’t see us bickering,” Carter said. “Let’s get this behind us. I think it’s going to benefit everybody and we’ll move on.”

Whether or not Town Council accepts the county’s counter offer remains uncertain. Council sent what some members considered the town’s final offer to the board in late May. Under council’s proposal, the agreement would exclude Crooked Run West parcels from any revenue-collection scheme. At the time council made the offer, members planned to give supervisors until mid July to respond. Council also indicated that it would take action as early as this Monday to consider the town’s collection of revenue from the corridor through the PILOT program.

The board’s last offer proposed that the county give the town the equivalent of 30 percent of the meals taxes collected from the corridor. The offer did not include lodging tax revenue.

“If the town accepts this, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of announcements in the near future, especially the one that keeps talking to us anyway, so I think there’ll be some other ones, too,” Carter added. “I’m hopeful this will move forward and we all benefit as a community.”

Chairman Richard Traczyk said he agreed with Carter.

“To hear so many times the town and county doesn’t get along, well, that’s not true,” Traczyk said. “In fact, we do a lot together. An awful lot and this has gotten to be one issue that’s been a thorn in our side, both sides for years now, so hopefully we can get this behind us as well.”

Council and supervisors began making offers and counter-offers earlier this year though the ongoing debates over sharing the corridor revenue has gone on for much longer. Town Council and officials contend that Front Royal, which provides utilities to the corridor outside corporate limits through a 1999 agreement, deserves a share of the revenue the county collects. Supervisors and county officials have said the town reaps a reward from the corridor through the PILOT program.

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