Council to take up several corridor options

Front Royal Town Council could throw down the gauntlet tonight over the U.S. 340-522 North Corridor.

Council plans to consider several items related to the corridor at its regular meeting– sharing revenue with Warren County, annexing the area and supplying water and sewer service to properties in the commercial-rich sector.

Mayor Timothy Darr, who, with Town Manager Steve Burke, sets the agenda, said Friday that considering the proposals today could help settle the matter between Front Royal and the county.

The agenda includes a resolution to reinstate meals and lodging taxes in the corridor. The resolution was added as council and the county Board of Supervisors continued to debate the terms of a memorandum of agreement over sharing revenue from the corridor.

“To be honest with you, the council needs to make a decision on which way they want to go,” Darr said. “I think what these items on the agenda will do will bring us to some sort of resolution.”

Councilman Bret Hrbek requested that the agenda also include the consideration of a joint meeting with the county to give both parties a chance to discuss the corridor, Burke said in an email Friday. Hrbek also asked that the agenda include an item seeking public input and discussion of the town’s policy on extended utilities outside corporate limits.

Hrbek said he might ask council to consider delaying action on the county’s memorandum of agreement until the town can hold a public hearing on the matter.

Front Royal has provided water and sewer service to the out-of-town properties in the corridor through Payments in Lieu of Taxes agreements under a 1998 deal with the county. In March 2010, council adopted a resolution to suspend the collection of the meals and lodging tax components of the PILOT fees program from corridor businesses. But, after years of trying to reach an agreement with the county to share more of the revenue generated in the corridor, council has been asked to consider adopting a resolution that directs the director of finance to start collecting the meals and lodging tax component of the PILOT fees through the town’s monthly bills to the businesses. Collection would begin with the October bills, the proposed resolution states.

But council also could consider adopting the latest version of a memorandum of agreement for PILOT meals and lodging taxes with Warren County. The agreement would require the county to give to the town the equivalent of 30 percent of the meals taxes and 5 percent of the lodging taxes collected from applicable businesses in the corridor. Under this agreement, if approved, the town would not reinstate the collection of the meals and lodging tax component of the PILOT contracts. The town also would agree to not file for annexation of the corridor.

Council also will consider a resolution to request that they hold a joint work session with county officials to discuss the possibility of a friendly boundary line adjustment for the annexation immunity area specified in the 1998 corridor agreement. Hrbek said Friday that the town and county have not yet discussed this option as a group.

Council also will consider advertising for public hearing a proposal to repeal the town code section that sets up the policy by which Front Royal extends water and sewer service into not just the corridor but all parts of the county outside the corporate limits. The code section allows Town Council to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to provide water and sewer to proposed properties and if a boundary adjustment is appropriate. Hrbek explained Friday that the latest version of the memorandum of agreement proposed by the county would, in essence, cause the town to violate its own utility extension policy so council should then scrap and possibly rewrite the code section.

Council also is expected to consider holding a public hearing on the latest version of the memorandum of agreement with the county.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or