Board of Supervisors wins big in Richmond
For what's believed to be the first time, every bill drafted and advanced with the Board of Supervisors' endorsement passed both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly and will become law in July.
Each year before the state's legislative session, Loudoun's supervisors and staff coordinate with local state delegates and senators to help draft laws they see as beneficial for the county. This year those four bills included:
• Senate Bill 1356 introduced by Sen. Jill Vogel (R-27th), which authorizes the Loudoun Board of Supervisors to appoint members of the county's Board of Equalization. The legislation makes Loudoun the only county in the commonwealth with a general form of government to have the governing body appoint citizens to the Board of Equalization, the independent body to which Loudoun property owners can file an appeal of their property assessment.
• House Bill 1982 introduced by Del. Joe May (R-33rd) empowers local treasurers across the state to provide local tax bills online.
• House Bill 1983 introduced by Del. May transfers real property interests – public rights of way, streets, alleys – of the former Town of Waterford to Loudoun County. This allows the county to “legally dispose of such property interests in order to provide clear title to private landowners in the village,” according to a county document.
• Senate Bill 959 introduced by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st) and House Bill 2217 introduced by Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd) authorize localities to install and enforce stop signs where shared use pathways cross highways. This is meant to improve public safety and eliminate confusion around crosswalks for motorists, bicyclists and other Washington and Old Dominion Trail users.
While the supervisors didn't outwardly lobby for the state's comprehensive transportation legislation, HB 2313, the reform could easily be seen by some as a victory for the county and the region, given it's estimated to send millions of dollars a year specifically to Loudoun for road projects and toward Metro's Silver Line extension into Ashburn.
With detractors of the transportation bill blasting it as a mammoth tax hike – and the fact the bill took so many forms throughout the session – the Loudoun board not surprisingly opted to hold off on an endorsement.
Still, Vice Chair Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) said, if the end result of the bill brings millions of dollars to Loudoun for transportation, the county can put the funds to good use.
“Transportation for me is certainly the top priority for the county,” Williams said. He added that while he may not support everything about the new bill, there are likely to be some benefits.
Williams praised assistant county administrator John Sandy, who works largely on legislative affairs, and Jeff Gore of Hefty and Wiley, a county-contracted lobbying firm.
"It's not just a good job, it was a great job,” Williams said during a May 1 meeting. “We were able to get every board-requested bill adopted in this year's legislative session. It was a great accomplishment for this board.”
Regarding SB 1356, the local Board of Equalization has been an object of controversy since 2011 when it aggressively forced a freelance reporter to leave one of its meetings, an incident that led to a costly lawsuit.
A primary concern surrounding the Board of Equalization has been lack of oversight, Williams said. Its board members are appointed by the Circuit Court, but following the nominations the board operates independently from any governing body.
For the Washington and Old Dominion Trail measure, Williams said he and colleague Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) worked with Virginia Department of Transportation and Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority officials on the legislation aimed at ensuring safety along the trail.
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