Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Is the region going to fight over VRE?
Dear Spotsylvania County Administrators and Supervisors,
Stafford County supervisors aren’t going to take it anymore—at least four of them, and that’s all it takes. Spotsylvania County, you will be getting a bill in the mail for $295,060 from your neighbors in Stafford. The pressure is on. Regionalism might go out the door. This might get real nasty.
Why? Because for almost two decades, Spotsylvania supervisors have batted around the idea of joining, and not joining, the Virginia Railway Express, and yet you’ve become one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. Fredericksburg and Stafford governments joined the rail service, and they’ve expressed their frustration with subsidizing Spotsylvania riders. VRE says 800-1,000 Spotsylvania residents ride the trains from Stafford and city lots—others beg VRE to prove those numbers are accurate.
But it does not matter right now, because according to Stafford Supervisor Joe Britto, "We need to start taking bold action on this. We need to force a vote." Stafford is no longer making millions from the 2 percent gas tax required to partner with VRE. They are now dipping into the reserves to pay its VRE bill. That’s never happened before. Supervisor Paul Milde says it’s because the country is in a recession. But four supervisors in Stafford believe it is because Spotsylvania, and three other counties, are not sharing the bill.
Not only is Stafford going to send Spotsylvania a bill, the supervisors will also bill Fauquier County, King George County and Caroline County.
Supervisor Gary Skinner was taken aback by the news today when I called him. He said he is working hard at getting the four votes needed for Spotsylvania to join VRE and Stafford "jumped the gun."
According to Skinner, the county is not paying that bill. According to the law, I am not even sure the bill is legal. Skinner has asked his neighbors to be patient. A vote is expected to happen before the summer. But won’t the vote be 4-3 against joining VRE? Or does Mr. Skinner have something up his sleeve?
According to Skinner, the county is not paying that bill. According to the law, I am not even sure the bill is legal. Skinner has asked his neighbors to be patient. A vote is expected to happen before the summer.
But won’t the vote be 4-3 against joining VRE? Or does Mr. Skinner have something up his sleeve?