Supervisors respond to criticism of corridor pact

The latest U.S. 340-522 Corridor deal sparked heated debate among town leaders even weeks after its approval.

Now a couple of county supervisors have responded to the council members’ pointed criticism of the board’s offer that a majority Town Council ultimately accepted in late August. Councilman Bret Hrbek and Councilwoman Bébhinn as well as a vocal group of several residents say the deal puts the town in a bad position.

Board Chairman Richard Traczyk delivered a lengthy statement last week on his reaction to the vocal criticism of his board and the deal. Traczyk then criticized the naysayers for not acknowledging the services the county provides to the town.

The town and county have tried to work out a deal ever since Front Royal lost its legal battle over its ability to collect revenue from the corridor, Happy Creek Supervisor Tony Carter said this week. The board came up with a deal late this past summer that calls for the county to provide the town with certain amounts of revenue from the corridor. The agreement also requires the town to provide water and sewer to Crooked Run West, a condition some critics say violates Front Royal’s own utility policy.

“Neither side maybe got everything they wanted but I think it’s still a good deal for all parties concerned, in my opinion,” Carter said.

Carter later added, “It just seems like it’s a small but vocal group that keeps going on and on and on about this and what you’re looking at basically is half a dozen people of a population of about 14,000.”

The town stands to collect another $230,000 a year out of the corridor as a result of the deal, Carter said. The county needs to come up with a way to cover the lost revenue, he added.

“If the corridor continues to grow, I think that will be additional revenue there, in addition to what may be happening out at Avtex,” Carter said. “It’s not for me to decide how council wants to use that money but to me that would give them a good source of revenue to some of the things they talk about.”

The condition requiring the town to supply water to Crooked Run West benefits both localities, Carter said.

Traczyk, who’s not running for another term in the Nov. 3 election, leveled harsher criticism at the naysayers.

“I was a little dismayed about many of the comments made by several Council members and a few members of the community, all seeming to have the same rhetoric,” Traczyk states. “They kept insisting the County is ‘screwing over’ the town people.”

Traczyk went on to list services and amenities made available to Front Royal residents that the county covers, such as recreational facilities, fire and rescue (jointly with the town), and social services.

“The town, to my knowledge, budgets nothing to help its citizens,” Traczyk states. “The list goes on and on – from free Economic Development services to the County Building and Inspection Department and to make statements that the town residents are getting ‘screwed over’ on public television is disingenuous.”

The town collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from the corridor through the payment in lieu of a taxes program, Traczyk notes. The town also collects revenue by providing water and sewer service to the corridor, Traczyk adds.

The chairman questioned statements by some council members that they want to protect town residents. He went on to say the town funds only the police department and maintains its roads and questioned exactly how much Front Royal actually gives its residents.

“In reality, over the years, the town willingly transferred responsibility of just about everything to the County,” Traczyk adds.

The chairman also stated his opposition to any effort the town might make to annex the corridor.

“The County will not give up its presence in the Corridor and turn over autonomy to the town any time in the near future,” Traczyk stated. “The developing corridor is our insurance that the schools will have adequate funding and the corridor is a major revenue stream which the town and County citizens enjoy.”

Carter echoed Traczyk on annexation.

“I know the county’s not going to go along with that because that would be way too much revenue that would have to be made up,” Carter said.

Traczyk also suggested that the county and town governments consolidate to resolve issues over the corridor, an idea once broached by fellow Supervisor Daniel J. Murray Jr.

“As I enter the final months of my service to the Town and County as Board Chairman, I would offer this suggestion that some might be horrified at, CONSOLIDATION! – making the town and county government one,” Traczyk stated, adding that this would eliminate the need to debate the corridor.

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