Letter to the Editor: Front Royal, county heading in wrong direction

The majority of Front Royal and Warren County citizens desire lower taxes and smaller, more efficient government. It appears that we are headed in the wrong direction.

At the April Town Council meeting, it was interesting when the county administrator proudly announced that the county had found the money in the county budget to pay the town the estimated $230,000 as part of the town/county 522 agreement by Dec. 15.

What the county administrator did not tell the public was that the money was freed up in the county budget because of the passing of a county tax increased. The reality is the citizens are paying for the county’s obligation to the town through real estate tax increases and not from the shared revenue from the meals tax collected from the corridor.

Because the majority of the council members lacked the understanding of the ramifications of the agreement, the council is dealing with the local motel and hotel owners having to pay a higher tax rate as compared to their counter parts in the county. The equalization of the tax rate to match the county would be the fair solution for the town’s hotel and motel businesses. However,  this action will drive down the tax revenue for the town, resulting in possible service cuts or a tax increase to balance the budget. Any other decision would put the these town businesses at an economic disadvantage.

The next future issue facing the town will be to fund and build new sewer and water lines in the 522 corridor for new development. This most likely will result in higher water rates and possible tax increases to fund. What is troubling is the county has the right to walk away from the agreement upon the completion of the construction, leaving the financial burden on the backs of the town businesses and citizens.

The 522 corridor agreement continues to smell like a dead skunk on the road in a hot Front Royal summer. The odor increases as time passes.

It is my hope that the council will revisit this agreement and negociate a better deal.

Michael Graham, Front Royal