An article in the Oct. 27 Loudoun Extra incorrectly reported that an out-of-town water and sewer surcharge under consideration by the Leesburg Town Council would be in effect during the winter. The surcharge would be in effect year-round. The same article also misstated the raise approved by the council for Town Manager John A. Wells. His salary increases from $130,560 to $137,088. (Published 10/30/2005)

Even the Leesburg Town Council is getting into the holiday-sales act.

To get people shopping downtown during the crucial retail period, the council on Tuesday approved eliminating all parking fees at street meters and in its Town Hall garage for six weeks starting Nov. 25.

Currently, free parking at meters is available only on weekends, and the garage is free for two hours of parking with a parking validation sticker from a local merchant.

The council voted 3 to 2 to approve the parking changes, with council members Fernando "Marty" Martinez and Melinda H. Kramer absent.

Leesburg's historic district has seen a decline in business in the face of competition from the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets mall. In addition to helping downtown retailers, the parking promotions will serve as a "goodwill gesture," said Betsy Fields, the town's economic development director, after a series of more strict parking measures left many motorists disgruntled.

Earlier this year, the town introduced electronic meter heads, raised meter rates from 25 cents to 50 cents an hour and hired two part-time parking enforcement officers to free up parking downtown.

The changes were successful, but they weren't easily accepted, Fields said. "We made a lot of changes at once, so there was a hard adjustment period," she said.

In other business, the council approved, by a vote of 4 to 1, a pay raise for Town Manager John A. Wells. Wells's annual salary increases from $128,000 to $134,400, retroactive to Oct. 1. Council member C. Kelly Burk was the lone vote against the raise.

Wells was appointed town manager last year, replacing Robert S. Noe Jr., who retired.

At its work session Monday, the council suggested shifting more of the burden of paying for the water and sewer system onto residents outside the town limits who use the town system.

Earlier this month, a private consulting group urged council members to enact a 10 percent rate increase in in-town water and sewer rates next year to avert an imminent budget shortfall.

Instead, the council decided Monday to pursue a 2 percent raise on in-town rates for 2006 and no increase at all for elderly residents. Out-of-town residents who use a lot of water during winter months will pay much more, through a surcharge of 100 percent, and the town will issue $5 million more in bonds to make up the shortfall.

"It's just a matter of how you want to spread the revenue out," said Randolph W. Shoemaker, director of utilities. "The council chose to weigh it more heavily on out-of-town residents than in-town residents."

The modified rates will be presented at a public hearing Nov. 8.