Town Leaders Prepare General Assembly Wish Lists

Should Loudoun’s towns have the authority to better control traffic with the use of speed cameras? Leaders in Hamilton and Hillsboro are exploring the concept in advance of the 2017 General Assembly session.

Such a measure would benefit small towns that don’t have police departments. Hamilton Mayor Dave Simpson, a retired law enforcement officer, has talked about the idea with Del. David LaRock (R-33) and plans to bring it up for a Town Council discussion next week. Leaders in Hillsboro, which is bisected by Rt. 9, also expressed interest in taking a look.

Simpson has suggested that fines resulting from the cameras wouldn’t go into town coffers, but could be earmarked for area schools, community nonprofits or homeless shelters.

That’s just one idea being floated as Loudoun’s town councils prepare their wish lists for the assembly session that begins Jan. 11.

The Purcellville Town Council discussed its priorities Nov. 8, approving 22 items proposed by Councilwoman Kelli Grim. But, after Councilman Doug McCollum suggested the list should be narrowed to the eight items that would have the most impact for the town, the final resolution to be discussed with LaRock and Sen. Richard H. “Dick” Black (R-13), contained those eight, plus two additional items proposed by the town, with the remaining items included as supporting documentation for the county’s legislative priorities.

The priority list includes opposition to the new state proffer law and any state legislation restricting the town government’s authority to accept cash and in-kind proffers from developers and support for local governments’ right to collect connection fees and impose rates to support the full cost of utility systems.

Other priorities are related to transportation. The council supports the completion of the Rt. 7 Bypass/Rt. 690 interchange—a longtime priority for the town; supports the revenue sharing program and supplements for local investments in road projects, and endorses efforts to lower tolls on the Dulles Greenway, including the potential state acquisition of privately owned highway.

Del. J. Randall Minchew (R-10) was scheduled to give the Middleburg Town Council an update on the upcoming General Assembly session on Thursday. One of the topics town leaders have targeted is a bill introduced last session by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27) that would set conditions for short-term rentals in residential properties, such as those promoted by AirBnB. The bill was carried over for study. In Lovettsville, the council endorsed three priorities tagged by the Virginia Municipal League. They are opposition to any proposal to eliminate the right of localities to impose business taxes; support for revenue sharing opportunities; and increased funding for transportation.

The council also is looking at two additional items.

“We want to start the conversation with the state looking at population guidelines regarding road maintenance,” Town Manager Palko Laszlo said. Currently, once towns reach the 3,500 population threshold they have to take over responsibility for road maintenance. While that comes with some new state funding, many jurisdictions find that the money falls short of covering the costs and procurement regulations are difficult. In Loudoun, Leesburg and Purcellville are responsible for maintaining their own streets.

The town also may seek authority to expand personal property tax relief, Palko said.

mmorton@loudounnow.com

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