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Delegates suggest Front Royal charter change instead of meals tax increase

The Warren Sentinel
FRONT ROYAL – State delegates have discouraged Warren County officials from pursuing a proposal to raise the county's meals and lodging taxes by 2 percent. The plan, which would have made Warren the only county in the state to raise its meals tax above 4 percent, was one of the ideas town and county officials have considered to generate revenue that would compensate the town for providing water and sewer services to businesses in the U.S. 522 corridor.
County attorney Blair Mitchell told members of the Board of Supervisors during their Jan. 2 meeting that several representatives of the town and county met in December with Virginia delegates Michael J. Webert, Todd Gilbert and Beverly Sherwood at the law firm of Pond, Athey, Athey & Pond in Front Royal to discuss the matter.
Mitchell said the delegates were “pessimistic” about the idea of raising the meals and lodging taxes, but that they suggested instead a change in the town's charter to allow money charged to the town's business customers in the corridor for water and sewer services to go into the town's general fund rather than its utility fund.
Gilbert said he could amend a bill he has already prepared to include the change, Mitchell told the supervisors.
The proposal to increase the meals tax from 4 percent to 6 percent and the lodging tax from 2 percent to 4 percent in the county was one of several discussed by town and county officials to reimburse the town for money it spends to provide water and sewer services to businesses in the corridor.
Members of the Town Council had discussions last year about whether or not to pursue annexing property in the corridor, but county officials said the loss of tax revenue from businesses located there would be detrimental to the county.
The county generates about $700,000 a year from its meals tax, $600,000 of which comes from businesses in the corridor. It takes in around $60,000 from the lodging tax, $50,000 of which comes from the corridor.
Mitchell said town officials planned to present the delegates' charter change suggestion to members of the Town Council at one of their upcoming meetings.
Attending the meeting at the Warren County Government Center were Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Archie Fox, Vice Chairman Linda Glavis, Richard Traczyk, Daniel Murray Jr., Tony Carter and County Administrator Douglas Stanley.
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