The Stafford Board of Supervisors is not pleased with its Delegate in Richmond and voted to oppose a key piece of his legislation.
Delegate Joshua Cole (D-Stafford, Fredericksburg) is carrying HB1910, a bill that would allow localities, cities, and counties to create a regional authority that allows them to plan and execute transportation projects within their general areas.
Modeled off of similar transportation authorities in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, the bill would also allow the authority to set taxes, fees, and revenues that would be raised from the participating localities.
The Stafford County Board of Supervisors is sending a letter to the General Assembly in hopes to persuade him to drop House Bill 1910.
This bill has not just the county up in arms but also the area’s existing transportation advisory bodies, the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the George Washington Regional Commission. Known as FAMPO and GWRC, respectively, the organizations bring together not just Stafford County and Fredericksburg but also Spotsylvania County for the purposes of planning transportation policy and projects in the regions.
The letter which will be sent to the House Transportation Committee in Richmond outlines several points of contention such as the potential confusion and impediment that could be caused and prevent the bodies from carrying out their roles. The letter also outlined how such an authority would put an unfair burden on the county in terms of the funding that would need to be extracted from Stafford County.
According to the letter, such a new authority would put Stafford on the hook for the lion’s share of fees since it would be the largest locality in such a regional authority. Also mentioned is the potential for shrinking the pot of available funds for regional transportation projects should such authority be put in place.
The main exception is that Stafford, FAMPO, and GWRC have taken exception that neither were consulted regarding the current language of the bill. During the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting Rock Hill District Supervisor and Board Chairman Crystal Vanuch mentioned that the board had been presented with a previous version of the bill which made participating in such an authority optional.
According to Vanuch, and expanded upon by Aquia District Supervisor Cindy Shelton, the language of the bill had been changed to make participating in an authority as now written in the bill mandatory. Shelton said the extra layer of bureaucracy this bill would add and how it could potentially make the process of making decisions on transportation projects in the area more complicated.
Shelton also mentioned having a conversation with Cole about pulling the legislation entirely but was actually temporarily set aside during the latest Transportation Committee meeting. Although the bill wasn’t passed, there is still concern that it could be taken back up and passed unless the bill is removed entirely.