The Leesburg Town Council has whittled down its to-do list following a January retreat.
At the Jan. 31 retreat, council members highlighted six themes that they wanted to focus on over the next two years. Those were: transportation and traffic; community and economic development; fiscal and financial measures; downtown Leesburg; relationship with Loudoun County; and Town Council relationship and protocol.
The agreed-upon themes came after condensing suggested priorities put forward by each council member in advance of the retreat.
This week, council members fine-tuned that list even further, voting on an eight-item action plan.
Topping the list is the creation of a 20-year transportation master plan. Town Manager Kaj Dentler said he would return to the council with a timeline to develop the plan, as well as an estimated cost. Council members had initially discussed the formulation of a 10-year plan but, at the suggestion of Councilman Tom Dunn, ultimately decided to extend the plan to 20 years.
Also included in the plan of action is: review of the town’s regulatory ordinances to reduce impediments to business development, which is ongoing; continued support of the newly-created Economic Development Steering Committee; continuation of the parking ratios and payment-in-lieu study, which is expected to take another two to four months; and scheduling a joint meeting between the council and the Board of Supervisors, which is expected sometime this fall.
Another item that is expected to be before the council at a July work session is a discussion on the structure, purpose, and function of each council-appointed board and commission. In the council’s agenda packet this week was an attendance report for each board and commission this year, which was requested by a majority of the council.
One new initiative in the plan of action that is certain to shape the budget discussion next year is the inclusion of infrastructure and maintenance costs for items in the Capital Improvements Program and Capital Asset Replacement Program. Council members said taking into account the occasional repair or refurbishment of these projects will give a better idea of the overall financial commitment to the town.
It was the final item on the action plan that commanded the most attention during Tuesday night’s vote—a work session discussion on a Code of Performance for the Town Council.
Those in favor of this item said there needed to be a stated list of acceptable, and unacceptable, behaviors for Town Council members, particularly in the area of discourse with each other.
“If we we’re a civil council, I don’t think we’d have a need for this,” Councilman Marty Martinez said, “but I think it’s warranted at this time.”
Dunn made a motion to exclude this item from the adopted plan of action, but was unsuccessful in finding support. In arguing for its exclusion, Dunn said, “You cannot legislate behavior.”
“Frankly any type of performance standards we try to set for ourselves, they’re unenforceable,” he added. “Our performance is evaluated by the citizens that vote for us. The citizens are our judges, not ourselves.”
Dunn said he believed the item was “another tool of stifling opinion that you don’t agree with.”
Ultimately, all eight action plan items were adopted by a 5-1-1 vote, with Dunn dissenting and Councilman Ken Reid absent. The council Code of Performance is expected to be discussed at the council’s next work session.