WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday adopted eight legislative priorities to forward to the General Assembly.
The top priority is reverting authority to the locality over existing tax exemptions granted by the General Assembly prior to Jan. 1, 2003. This could allow the board to revoke the tax-exempt status from places such as Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury retirement community, which was granted tax-exempt status by the legislature.
The board also wants to the General Assembly to reconsider the provisions of Senate Bill 549, which enacted an amendment to state code on July 1, 2016, to give localities flexibility to work with developers to address increased demands for public facilities and services caused by residential growth.
SB 549 says all proffers from developers, which are payments to offset the cost of development, must be “specifically attributable” to the impact of a development. It also says localities cannot request or accept any “unreasonable proffer.” County staff have criticized the criteria for being too vague and for stifling discussions with developers.
Other priorities are:
Legislation to provide local specific taxing authority to increase taxes on meals and transient occupancy, without legislative imposition of mandatory specific uses of the realized gain in revenue.
Getting the General Assembly to approve equal taxing authority for counties eligible for city status.
Increased funding for transportation improvements. The county also supports reforming the SmartScale funding process for transportation projects.
Changing state code to increase the dollar amount above which the board must approve tax refunds from $2,500 to $5,000. The existing dollar threshold has not changed since 1995. This proposed change could reduce by more than half the number of tax refunds that must go to the board.
Legislation that provides additional tools for counties to finance, build, and operate open access networks in partnership with commercial internet service providers.
Legislation that requires all funding collected under the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan to be used solely for capital expenditures related to I-81 improvements.
The priorities were approved on a 6-1 vote. Red Bud District Supervisor Blaine Dunn was the only dissenting vote, as the list did not include his proposal to set a time limit for builders and developers to complete residential house construction.
Also at the meeting, the board:
Voted unanimously to spend $1.6 million to build a new Albin refuse and recycling convenience center at 178 Indian Hollow Road.
Voted 6-1 to appoint Stonewall District Judith McCann-Slaughter to the Frederick County Economic Development Authority. Back Creek Supervisor Gary Lofton, who did not seek re-election on Nov. 5, currently serves on the EDA. The supervisors opted to appoint McCann-Slaughter to the EDA so they could have a board representative on the panel. Lofton’s last day as a supervisor is Dec. 31. He was the only supervisor to vote against McCann-Slaughter’s appointment.
Voted unanimously to order the Communications Committee to develop a request for proposal to be sent out for updating the county’s public safety radio system. After the RFP is approved and sent out, the board will accept bids for the project.
Voted unanimously to amend an ordinance regarding the allowed conditional uses in the Rural Areas (RA) zoning district. One of the changes is to cap the square footage of a country general store to 3,500 square feet and to exclude all fuel sales. If someone wants to open a country store larger than 3,500 square feet and the property is not zoned for it, the applicant will have to apply for a rezoning.
Voted unanimously to amend Frederick Water’s Articles of Incorporation — a move that would allow Frederick Water to own future sewage treatment plants instead of the Frederick-Winchester Service Authority.
Attending the meeting at the County Administration Building at 107 N. Kent St. were Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. and Supervisors J. Douglas McCarthy, Judith McCann-Slaughter, Bob Wells, Gary Lofton, Blaine Dunn and Shannon Trout.