Archive for: December 5th, 2017

Local Government
Council ponders financing gamble on FRPD and Happy Creek Road projects
December 5, 2017
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Finance Director B.J. Wilson explains variables that could impact long-term financing of the new FRPD headquarters and Happy Creek Road Phase 2 improvements. Photo/Roger Bianchini

After receiving a more-detailed work session summary of financing options for construction of its now estimated $11-million police headquarters, as well as Phase 2 of the Happy Creek Road upgrades, the Front Royal Town Council appears torn over a final decision.  That is because by gambling on a best-case or close to it scenario through the New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) offered through People, Inc. the Town could realize savings of as much as $5.5 million over a 30-year bond issue.

However, there’s a reason they call it gambling – and that reason is why Town Manager Joe Waltz and Town Finance Director B.J. Wilson both recommended a more stable 30-year fixed-term loan now being offered outside the tax credit program at a set interest rate of 2.65 percent.  And while two councilmen – Vice Mayor Eugene Tewalt and Gary Gillespie – were ready to commit to the safer path at a total 30-year debt service cost of $16.08 million for the FRPD project alone ($24.41 million coupled with financing of a second capital improvement project, the $5.5-million Happy Creek Road Phase 2 Project), others were not yet ready to hedge their “bets”.

And that bet is, first, that the New Market Tax Credit Program will be around through the initial interest-only ($247,500 annual) nine-year payment period.  The second part of the bet is that the 2.65-percent interest rate, or close to it, on the balance will be available in 2027 when the full debt service on the remaining 70 percent of the FRPD balance is coupled with the debt service on the cost of the Happy Creek road improvements project.

The coupling of the FRPD and Happy Creek Phase 2 capital improvement project base costs is an assumption in all five financing scenarios presented to council.  Due to that coupling of financing the two CIP’s, the base construction cost upon which all five financing scenarios are calculated is $16.5 million ($11 million FRPD, $5.5 million HC Road).

However, the potential range of 30-year debt services on that two-project cost vary from the best-case NMTC Scenario A at $19,115,400 (at 2.65% interest); to a worst-case NMTC Scenario D total of $26,464,890, the latter calculated at a 5.65-percent interest rate.  All tax credit program estimates are based on guesses of interest rates available in 2027 after the NMTC Program interest-only payment period ends.

The total non-gambling, 30-year fixed rate debt service currently being offered is $24,415,550.  And while that total is lower ONLY than the worst-case NMTC Program Scenario D – scenarios B and C totals are $21,422,880 and $23,876,580, respectively – according to the town finance director those tax credit projections are only guesstimates.  As for the actual interest rates available after the cost-friendly nine-year tax credit interest-only payments end, “They could be better or they could be way-way worse,” Town Finance Director Wilson told Royal Examiner.

Then there is the variable of whether the NMTC Program will continue to exist through those first nine years.  The New Market Tax Credit Program is a federal stimulus program dating to the year 2000, late in the Clinton Administration, though it was first implemented in 2001-2002, in the first year of the George W. Bush Administration.  It was designed to provide government-assisted investment in struggling local economies.  From 2001 to 2016 the program invested $50.5 billion to that end.  It is administered through the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  The program is administered regionally through People Inc.

Town Manager Waltz explained the hope was to have a People, Inc. representative present for the December 4 work session discussion.  However, he explained that Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jennifer McDonald had not only not been able to schedule a People, Inc. person for December 4, but had not been able to reach a representative to schedule another date.  At the work session discussion’s conclusion, the town manager was instructed by Mayor Tharpe to work with the EDA to give another shot at bringing a People, Inc. representative to a future work session.  Council’s next work sessions are slated for January 2 and 15.

But if the mayor and a majority of council weren’t ready to hedge their bets on the NMTC Program gamble, that reluctance was based on the numbers – kind of like the $200-million lottery pots that pop up now and then.

For starters there is the low nine-year interest-only payment on both major CIP projects ($247,500 annually in all NMTC scenarios) followed by $562,930 annual payments from 2027 through 2056 in Scenario A ($19,115,400 total cost);  $639,846 annually in “B” ($21,422,880); $721,636 in “C’ ($23,876,580); and $807,913 in “D” ($26,464,890).

Those “guesstimate” numbers stack up against guaranteed numbers, including an annual fixed rate annual debt service of $804,185 paid from 2021 to 2050, after a first-year $268,063 payment in 2018 and payments of $681,125 in 2019 and 2020; again totaling $24,415,550 over the 30-year debt service on the $16,500,000 project costs of the police headquarters and Happy Creek Road Phase 2 projects.

You know – if the police could just work out of their homes – AND we gambled on the advent of the flying cars we’ve been promised since the 1950’s, ALL those costs could just vanish in the wind … couldn’t they?

How much better does it have to be? Courtesy Photo/Town of FR

Legislative Update
Latest Legislative Update – Congressman Bob Goodlatte
December 5, 2017
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Tax Reform Update
On Friday evening, the U.S. Senate passed their version of tax reform legislation. Now that the House and Senate have passed legislation, the next step is for both bodies to join in a conference committee to work out the differences between the plans. This evening, the House voted to go to conference and formally begin these negotiations. I look forward to productive discussions between the House and Senate to develop a simpler, fairer tax plan that will result in American taxpayers keeping more of their paychecks. Virginia families want tax relief, and now that relief is one step closer to reality. I’ll keep you updated as this process moves forward. I’m hopeful we can get a bill on President Trump’s desk soon.
For more information on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by the House, take a minute to read my recent weekly column on “Delivering Tax Relief to Virginia Families.”

Here are some of the highlights of the House bill:
You can also get the facts on the plan at fairandsimple.gop.

Deadline Approaching: Senate Must Act on CHIP
Unless the Senate acts, Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is expected to run out of funding on January 31. Approximately 66,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women in Virginia rely on this program for health coverage. The House of Representatives has already passed a bill that extends CHIP funding for five years with my support. However, the Senate has yet to act. On Friday, I joined with several of my colleagues from Virginia in urging the Senate, including Virginia’s senators, to pass the House bill.

Virginians deserve certainty that this program will continue. Read the full op-ed here.

THIS WEEK IN THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: FBI Director Wray will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday at 10AM. The House Judiciary Committee has an important responsibility to keep a watchful eye on the FBI to ensure it is fulfilling its missions and that it follows the facts wherever they lead without political interference. I look forward to hearing from Director Wray on the many issues facing the FBI. Click here for more information about the hearing, including the live-stream.

ON THE HOUSE FLOOR: Two bills to help protect public safety are scheduled to be considered by the House this week. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act ensures that the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and others remain intact even when crossing state lines, as long as an individual follows local concealed carry laws. The Fix NICS Act addresses holes in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to help keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing them. Both of these bills have support from Republicans and Democrats. Click here to read more about these bills.

Recently, Silas, a young man from Roanoke, visited my office to talk more about his social studies project and the U.S. government. It was great to meet him! I wish Silas the best of luck in school.

Photos from the Sixth
Recently, Silas, a young man from Roanoke, visited my office to talk more about his social studies project and the U.S. government. It was great to meet him! I wish Silas the best of luck in school.
Dixie Gas & Oil in Verona welcomed me to their headquarters to learn more about some of the federal regulations impacting propane marketers. Federal red tape can have a significant impact on the ability of businesses to grow and create jobs in the real world. I’ll keep working in the House to do all we can to promote the growth of small businesses by freeing them from unnecessary regulation. Thanks to Chris and the team for showing me around!
Reminder: Open Door Meetings Resume in January
Open Door Meetings hosted by Sixth District staff are not held during the month of December. The meetings will resume in January. If you need assistance with a federal agency or would like to express concerns regarding a legislative issue, visit my website for office contact information as well as the best way to email me.

LifeSavor
Boy Scout Troop 52: Christmas tree sales history
December 5, 2017
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Boy Scout Troop 52 has been selling Christmas trees for 49 years; it is the main fundraiser for the troop. It is estimated we have sold over 15,000 trees over the years; many Scouts have learned the basics of salesmanship, marketing, and commercial forestry through the Troop’s Christmas tree sales program.

Christmas tree sales were first introduced to the troop by the efforts of Ken Fortune, Assistant Scoutmaster and Ken Bovard, Scoutmaster in December of 1968. The troop purchased trees from a farm in Bentonville that first year and shortly after that we branched out and purchased some of our trees from the Rudacille farm.

During the first 20 years the troop bought the Christmas trees from various tree farms in Virginia and as far away as Pennsylvania. In 1979 Dr. Craig Zunka, a long time member and Eagle Scout from the troop, agreed that the Troop could plant trees on his farm in Browntown.

Depending on the variety of the tree it takes from 6 to as much as 12 years from the time a scout plants a Christmas tree and it is ready for sale.

Since then, Dr. Zunka has overseen the planting and care of the trees on his tree farm for the Troop. The number of trees the scouts plant every year as well as the number of trees harvested depend largely upon the weather and the type of trees.

The Scouts learned how to plant the seedlings, how to properly trim the different variety of trees and the need to keep the weeds from growing around the bases. Dr. Zunka maintains the mowing between the rows and spraying to reduce insect or disease damage to the trees in the summer.

The first tree sales were held on the “Weaver lot” across from the old Front Royal Volunteer fire station that was beside what was then our town hall. Peyton street now runs through where the Troop had its first tree sales lot.

It was just after the 1969 tree sales that Bill Ollinger, manager of the Safeway store in the Royal Plaza shopping center invited the troop to set-up the 1970 tree sales next to his grocery store and we have been selling trees somewhere on the property of the Royal Plaza shopping center ever since. The Troop has enjoyed and appreciated the support from the merchants in the shopping center that we have received for all these years!

All of the profits from our tree sales goes into the Troops operating account to pay for advancement awards and activities of the troop. We also pay for some of the Scouts cost towards summer camp.

This past year the troop covered just over $200.00 for each Scout to attend Boy Scout Camp and in addition the Troop covered the cost for the Scouts trip in June to a “rope course” in the southern part of Virginia. The Troop covers the cost of camping trips and other activities for the Scouts.

100% of all funds from tree sales go towards the program and equipment replacement.

See where & when you can purchase trees here: Troop 52 Christmas tree sales.

Submitted by Ronald “Hoss” Feldhauser, Warren County.

LifeSavor
Chewbacca Miracle: Mom laughs her way to prayers answered
December 5, 2017
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You probably saw the video: A young woman sitting in her car, dons a Chewbacca mask and laughs. And laughs. And growls. For about five minutes.

It was a moment so silly and fun that Candace Payne decided to upload the video to Facebook. Her friends got a kick out of it. Then their friends. And their friends and, by the next day, 24 million people were laughing along with her — a Facebook viral video record.
Payne told Guideposts that she hadn’t intended to put on a Star Wars Chewbacca mask that day. In fact, she was just going to buy some yoga pants. But when she saw the mask, she couldn’t resist buying it.

What she didn’t know then was that a silly mask and video would be the answer to prayers.
A stay-at-home mom, Payne spends most days making a home for her husband and their two children. He works as a warehouse manager and the kids are in grade school.

They were overdue for a family vacation and Payne’s own happy memories of Disney World loomed large in her mind. They just couldn’t afford to take the kids to the Magic Kingdom, not that year. So she prayed for this big thing: That God would make a way for her and the kids to go to Florida and visit Disney World.

A week later she was Chewbacca Mom and a week after that she got a call from, where else?…Disney World. They offered her an all-expenses paid trip for her family.

She burst into tears and so did the caller from Disney.

Her big prayer received a big answer and, later, sailing through the Small World ride, she tried not to laugh in amazement.