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Town faces financial challenges including paying for its new police station

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Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson reminded council that its chosen method of financing, the nearly decade-long interest free payback through the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) Program is no longer on the table. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner

Following a January 7 work session overview of financial impacts of various projects and purchases under consideration for the coming Fiscal Year 2020, the Front Royal Town Council zeroed in on one issue of primary concern in, not only the next, but many fiscal years to come. That issue is financing of the new $10.2-million town police headquarters.

Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson reminded council that its chosen method of financing, the nearly decade-long interest free payback through the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) Program is no longer on the table. As noted in a Council Resolution passed in late November tracing accounting and debt service problems with the town-county Economic Development Authority, a multi-faceted Capital Improvements loan of over $20 million thru the NMTC Program town officials believed had been closed by the EDA, was not.

At Monday night’s work session the town finance director said that part of the problem was that last year’s NMTC loan offering had been centered on job creation – and that job creation was not a primary aspect of coming town capital improvement projects like the police station.

Whatever and wherever the ultimate fault lies, according to the November 26 Resolution the absence of a nine-year interest free debt service on the $10.2-million police station project is projected to cost the Town “hundreds of thousands of dollars per year” above anticipated annual debt service costs.

After seeing annual debt service estimates for the police station in the neighborhood of $580,000 to $730,000, requiring an additional $337,558 to $487,855 in annual funding, Mayor Hollis Tharpe verbalized a worse-case scenario: “Wouldn’t it be terrible if the new police department (headquarters) was foreclosed on?

“I see the camera is rolling,” the mayor noted of Royal Examiner’s video equipment. And indeed it was, as evidenced in these videos of the police headquarters financing discussion and the finance director’s FY 2020 Budgetary Overview.

We would offer that the mayor’s foreclosure comment was offered less as a likely scenario, than as a reminder of the seriousness of the multiple financial challenges council faces in finding additional revenue streams to cover costs in the coming fiscal year.

But see for yourself in these Royal Examiner videos of the police station financing discussion, as well as Finance Director Wilson’s budgetary overview of what is on the table for funding in Fiscal Year 2020.

Local Government

Council aligns with Planning Commission: No exemption from off-street parking

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The Virginia Beer Museum at 16 Chester Street, may have to nix expansion of its backyard Beer Garden following a Council vote denying an exemption for off-street parking for museums and art galleries. / Royal Examiner File Photo

FRONT ROYAL – A motion to amend Front Royal Town Code 175-127.3 to exempt museums and art galleries from off-street parking requirements failed Monday evening (Jan. 14, 2019) at its second and final reading, as the Front Royal Town Council voted down the measure 4-2.

Councilman Jacob Meza and recently-elected LeTasha Thompson voted in favor of the code change to allow the exemption, while Councilmen Sealock, Tewalt, Gillispie and Holloway voted against the measure.  Prior to the vote Sealock addressed his concerns about a lack of parking data and also reminded the panel that they had originally agreed to affirm the Planning Comission’s  decision.

Virginia Beer Museum owner David Downes had previously submitted a request to receive an off-street parking exemption to expand the entity’s beer garden. The parking spots he hoped to eliminate are behind 14 and 16 Chester Street, where Downes’ law office and the museum are located.

He previously told Royal Examiner that his request was an attempt to be treated the same as the businesses on Main, Jackson and Chester streets, which are exempt from off-street parking requirements.

Last September, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that Downe’s request be denied in favor of a town-wide parking study after a public hearing in which 14 citizens spoke in favor of the exemption, with three speaking against it.

In other business, the Town Council’s Monday:

  • Appointed William C. Gordon to the Planning Commission, term expiring August 30, 2020.
  • Appointed Eugene Tewalt and Jacob Meza to the Audit & Finance Committee, term expiring Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Appointed William Sealock as Vice-Mayor. He will serve for two years, until the end of his term.
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Local Government

Town Summit – Part 6, Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson gives us an ‘Financial Overview’.

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Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson. Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

In this 6th and final presentation of the Town Council Summit, Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson gives us an ‘Financial Overview’.

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 5, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses the EDA

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner

In late 1967, Town Council and the Warren County Board of Supervisors, by reciprocal ordinances, jointly formed the “Industrial Development Authority of the Town of Front Royal and the County of Warren, Virginia”, pursuant to State statutes. This local Industrial Development Authority (“IDA”) currently is known as the Economic Development Authority, or “EDA”. This session, Town Attorney discusses the EDA and its relationship with the County and the Town.

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 4, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Roberts Rules of Order’

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Mayor Hollis Tharpe asks Town Attorney Doug Napier about Roberts Rules of Order. Photo and Video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

In this fourth presentation of the Town Council Summit,  Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Roberts Rules of Order’:

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 3, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Conflict of Interest’

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner

In this third presentation of the Town Council Summit,  Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses issues with Conflicts of Interest:

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Local Government

BOS Reports from County Administrator; County Attorney; WCPS; VDOT

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At the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 8, 2019, the monthly reports from the County Administrator Doug Stanley, County Attorney Dan Whitten gave their reports:


Also Warren County Public Schools – Greg Drescher


And report from Ed Carter, VDOT

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