The Leesburg Town Council last week adopted its annual set of legislative priorities, and a familiar item is back on its wish list for General Assembly action.
The adopted legislative agenda includes a request that the commonwealth to lift its moratorium on large municipalities seeking city status. When the council first discussed its legislative priorities in October, a majority favored removing the item for the first time since 2015, noting there did not appear to be much traction on the part of state legislators to seek an end to the moratorium.
But, last week, the item found support. Councilman Tom Dunn suggested adding the item back onto the agenda.
“We are getting a number of new legislators,” he said, in a nod to recent Election Day results. “If it stays in front of them they may take it up one day and change the state’s opinion of city status.”
Dieter Meyer, a former member of the town’s Board of Architectural Review who is also involved in several downtown projects, urged the council during its Nov. 14 meeting to retain the city status option. He also pointed to the election of some new voices representing Leesburg in the House of Delegates.
“I understand the obstacles, but I hope you don’t give up on trying to make that happen,” he said.
The vote to approve the legislative agenda passed on a 3-2-1-1 vote, with Mayor Kelly Burk, Councilman Marty Martinez, and Dunn in favor; Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox and Councilman Ron Campbell opposed; Councilwoman Vanessa Maddox abstaining; and Councilman Ken Reid absent. In explaining their dissent, Campbell and Fox voiced objections to the inclusion of the city status item.
“It’s an exercise in futility to think this is a real reality,” Campbell said. The council’s “time and energy” would be better spent on matters that bring an immediate benefit to town residents, he said.
The adopted legislative agenda contains 12 town priorities. Among them are a request for a state code change to allow the county to take over some town billing functions; a state code amendment to clarify the town’s ability to regulate its public lands for the launching and retrieval of drones; and the repeal of the controversial proffer legislation from 2016, or the appointment by the General Assembly of a committee to study its impacts. The council also approved the adoption of a legislative positions statement, which offers the council’s viewpoints on everything from transportation funding to higher education in Leesburg to utility rates to taxes and more.
The adopted legislative agenda and legislative positions statement can be found online at leesburgva.gov/government/mayor-council/legislative-agenda.
Council members will share these priorities with their state representatives during the annual legislative dinner, which has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Lightfoot Restaurant.