Purcellville Town Council discussed Tuesday night the possibility of refunding town annexation application fees for property owners who don’t complete the process.
Mayor Kwasi Fraser previously requested that Councilman Doug McCollum and Town Attorney Sally Hankins work with town staff to propose a refund policy, which they did throughout August.
“I just want to make sure that we are positioned to respond to such requests for refund,” Fraser said. “I’m anticipating that we’ll have more requests for refunds.”
McCollum and Hankins assessed three approaches under the town’s current annexation policy. One of these requires a single, large application fee and offers a partial refund upon failure to complete the review process.
The other approach would institute a phased fee, which would require the applicant to pay smaller, incremental fee amounts as the review process moves forward. This option would not offer a refund, since the applicant would be paying for each completed step of the review process instead of an initial, large sum.
A third approach requires a single large application fee and does not offer a refund. The staff is not recommending this approach.
McCollum said if the town must adopt a policy, he prefers the phased-fee approach.
All councilmembers expressed the need to examine the proposed policies further before determining which to adopt, if any.
“I would look at it, digest it and try to see exactly how it works,” McCollum said.
Fraser’s request for the creation of a refund policy came earlier this year after an applicant who was processed under the town’s former annexation policy requested a refund.
James Roncaglione submitted an annexation application and paid a $13,106.50 review fee in 2007. The town then processed the application through 2008. Communication between Roncaglione and the town was intermittent until 2015. In 2016, he sold the property and, in May this year, requested a refund. The town staff then recommended $11,716.50 be refunded, with $1,390 retained to cover the staff time that had been dedicated to the application.
Staff members identified only one prior refund. In that case, a 75 percent refund was issued, with the rest used to cover review costs.