FRONT ROYAL – Warren and Frederick county officials are working to resolve a boundary line issue that resulted in citizens paying taxes and voting in the wrong county for decades.
The area in question is along Foster Hollow Road, where eight lots of land are assessed in the wrong county. Seven of those lots have been assessed in Warren County while they were actually in Frederick County.
Frederick County Deputy Administrator Jay Tibbs said about six houses have been paying taxes and voting in the wrong county.
Officials — including Tibbs, Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley, Frederick Supervisor Bob Wells and Warren Supervisor Dan Murray — held a Thursday meeting with citizens who live in the area along the boundary in question to explain the issue.
Wells assured the crowd that officials would just like to work out the matter, and it is not a case of any county wanting to increase its tax base.
Scott Marsh, a surveyor hired by both counties, explained that the boundary line in question is about eight miles long and stretches from Valley Pike to Winchester Road. Stanley noted that had been the case since 1836.
Marsh said that “nobody did anything wrong,” but it was previously difficult to know exactly where the boundary was without modern techniques. He said he is confident, however, that the correct boundary is mapped out and it is now “just a matter of sorting it out.”
The issue came to light last year upon Warren County Registrar Carol Tobin’s realization that citizens were registered to vote in the wrong congressional district. She explained that a household should be registered to vote in the district in which the bedroom is located.
Stanley and Tibbs both acknowledged that the county in which a citizen lives is an “emotional issue” and Stanley said he “is sorry for how we’ve gotten here.”
Pat Grizzle’s house is located in Frederick County, but she has paid taxes and voted in Warren County. She noted that when she wanted to send her child to Frederick County schools for a special program, she was told that there would be an about $2,000 annual tuition fee to do so.
“I feel like my children lost out,” she said.
Carroll Hawes has also voted and paid taxes in Warren County while his house was located in Frederick County. He said if his residence changes to Frederick, he would have to re-learn matters such as what transfer station to use. He added that he is plugged into Warren County politics as opposed to Frederick, where he does not “know a soul.”
A proposed preliminary boundary would make all but one of the houses incorrectly assessed in Warren County actually located in Warren County.
Stanley said at this point “everything is a possibility,” and the final decision will ultimately be up to each county’s Board of Supervisors.
If there are any proposed changes to the boundary line, Stanley said a public hearing would be held by both boards. Then, he said each board would have to adopt a joint resolution supporting a petition requesting the change in circuit court.