Near the end of the Thursday evening, January 18, Front Royal-Warren County Liaison Committee Meeting, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Tony Carter reintroduced the subject of how often such face-to-face sit downs between two members of the town and county boards was really necessary. The topic may have been on Carter’s mind as the newly-elected board chairman, who along with the mayor is a permanent member of the liaison committee. The other committee member from each elected body rotates through the membership.
Other regular attendees include the county administrator and town manager, as well as the board secretary of whichever body’s turn it is to host the meetings. Other staff, usually department heads attend if there is an agenda item that involves their particular expertise. On January 18, town Finance Director B.J. Wilson was present to address cost variables on several agenda items.
Currently the meetings occur on the third Thursday every other month. If memory serves me, they have occurred as often as monthly and as infrequently as quarterly. Mayor Hollis Tharpe supported the current two-month intervals. He noted that council members seemed to appreciate the chance for regular interactions with the county’s other elected municipal board and the opportunity for updates on specific issues of mutual interest.
Carter observed that the town and county staffs were in constant contact on those issues where town and county interests intersect and were available to their respective elected boards for briefings on such matters. The county administrator and town manager also give monthly updates to the other municipal board on current business on their side of the municipal aisle.
Carter later told Royal Examiner he thought current relations between the town and county governments were going pretty well, perhaps explaining his thought that quarterly or even bi-annual liaison meetings might suffice. There is also the opportunity for specially-called full joint council-supervisors meetings as has occurred on the occasion of high-interest issues popping up.
That occurred last year when questions arose about costs and how the town-county Economic Development Authority’s workforce housing project was being managed. Another such full joint meeting occurred several years ago when a friendly annexation was on the table for the land on which the Front Royal Limited Partnership’s 604-acre, potential 818-unit residential development was under consideration along the town-county boundary.
No resolution on a future schedule was reached, though it may be added to the March liaison agenda after the mayor and county board chair discuss the matter with their respective boards.
Items of particular interest on the January 18 liaison agenda included Town updates on:The status of the West Main Street extension project through the Royal Phoenix Business Park and construction of a wastewater pumping station for the initial commercial development at the site, and how both are impacting the start of the ITFederal construction project;
- The status of the Route 522 North Corridor water line expansion/redundancy project’
- Phase 2 of Happy Creek Road improvements;
- The Town’s movement toward creation of a Building Inspection and Maintenance Code;
- The status of the state and federally-mandated Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades;
- And as reported previously, an attempt by the Town to coordinate how it will approach a State mandate that all vehicle inspection and licensing decals be moved from the center to left side of windshields by January 1, 2019;
And on the County side, updates on:
- The status of implementation of the Building Inspection Software in the County Planning Department;
- The County’s In-Town Projects;
- Projects on the table of the Development Review Committee on both sides of the town-county boundary;
- As well as reviews of the joint implementation of a local Tow Board; and a Dog Tethering Code creating more specific standards that the Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Department can use to prevent neglect or cruel treatment of pet dogs countywide.