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Posted July 2, 2012 | comments 11 Comments

Regional jail foe files suit to stop project

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

A vocal opponent of the regional jail filed a lawsuit in Shenandoah County Circuit Court seeking to stop the multi-million dollar project under way in Warren County.

The complaint filed Monday and provided to the Daily late the same night by the plaintiff, Mark W. Prince, names as defendants Suntrust Bank, the Virginia Resource Authority, the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority and the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors. Prince, of Toms Brook, filed the motion for declaratory judgments, noting in the document "he is a taxpayer representing himself and all other simularly situated."

In an e-mail Prince states Shenandoah County would have saved $34 million on the project had the board of supervisors put the matter of borrowing money for the project on the ballot as a bond referendum.

The complaint includes motions to declare null and void the RSW Regional Jail Authority service agreement; the bonds issued by the jail authority and guaranteed by the board of supervisors; the bonds issued by the Virginia Resources Authority to buy the jail bonds; and the jail authority note in favor of Suntrust bank.

Prince claims the Virginia state code stipulates that Shenandoah County's participation in a regional jail must last a minimum of 30 years. The complaint also states that in order for the county to comply with code, the state constitution must have been complied with and agreements in excess of one year must be "approved by a vote of the citizens of the County of Shenandoah."

As Prince claims, the supervisors entered into the service agreement, which contains contractual obligations to make payments over a period of more than one year to the jail authority, "without approval by a majority vote of the qualified voters voting in an election of the question of contracting such debt."

Prince and other Shenandoah County residents have spoken out against the RSW Regional Jail over concerns about the final price of the project, ongoing operational costs to run the facility and have even questioned the legality of the jail authority's actions to acquire the funding through bond sales. Meanwhile the early stages of construction continue at the site on Winchester Road in Warren County.

As to the jail bonds, Prince "prays that this Honorable Court declare the RSW Regional Jail Authority bonds to not be a valid debt of the taxpayers of Shenandoah County nor the RSW Regional Jail Authority, and that payments on such bonds be enjoined as set forth in the aforesaid Virginia Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court rulings."

Prince states in his complaint that the court should render the bonds null and void, noting the Virginia Resources Authority "bought the bonds after Moody's Rating Service and Standard and Poor's Rating Service apparently chose not to allow their ratings, if any, to be used for sale of such bonds to the general public."

Prince claims Moody's chose not to stand behind such rating issued in March. Virginia Resources Authority pulled the jail bonds from the sale set for May 22. Before the regional jail authority held another meeting, the Virginia Resources Authority sold the bonds in June and "used those proceeds to purchase the dubious RSW Regional Jail Authority Bonds."

Prince claims the Virginia Resources Authority failed to comply with state code in selling the bonds.

The jail authority approved a note in favor of Suntrust on May 31 which matures more than one year from the date of issue. However, as Prince claims, state code requires such a certificate of indebtedness be approved by a majority vote of qualified voters which did not happen.

11 Comments | Leave a comment

    Is there anything around here people are willing to support? I can kinda see both sides on this one, but what about the special needs school in Edinburg?

      I think you will "kinda" feel it more when your taxes go up! One issue at a time - this is an important one. Forcing taxpayers to pay for things they don't even get a vote on isn't democratic and we've had a lot of that lately.

      Why don't you start a blog. about the special needs school: give us the details and I'm sure people will jump right in and discuss.

    So how much is this law suit going to save the taxpayers? I am thinking not too much. I am sure this is going to cost the taxpayers quite a bit of money, and one must wonder...who is this serving?

    I believe a lot of the anti jail crowd are well meaning, but it has gotten to the point where a few are self serving. It is ironic that the so called protectors of the taxpayer are now costing us money. The jail is being built as we speak, get over it.

    Our elected officials make decisions of all kinds during their terms in office. Some are good and there are those that have an adverse effect on the taxpayers. This is politics. I am sure many of us question this action regarding the regional jail. However, the individual County Boards voted to proceed with this. The Counties of Warren and Rappahannock are also involved in this project. It is not just about Shenandoah County. It is time to move on. It is not the time to increase costs. The time to act is at the next elections.

    The time to act is now. Waiting for the next elections will mean nothing once the damage is done. It amazes me how some of us are so nieve. Thank you Mr. Prince for having the guts to stand up to this communism. I for one am tired of having to see taxpayer money wasted. These are hard times.We are lucky if we have a job, a place to sleep, food to eat. We should be supporting anyone trying to help us. Please, do not wait until taxes are so high you cant afford to stay in your home. Then, we will be crying " how did this happen? We are going to lose our home!" Please stand up for our rights.

      That is some of the best fear-mongering I've seen in a while. To clarify: build a regional jail = homeless and starving. Or better yet, build a regional jail = the goose step and saluting the hammer and sickle. Seriously? You people have taken a potentially viable argument and corrupted it to the point that no one wants to hear about it anymore. Anyone without their head in the sand would know that Mr. Prince's personal agenda toward the BOS well outweighs any claim of protecting my rights.

      By the way, I don't remember asking you or anyone else for that matter to protect my interests. And thank you for now costing me way more than I wanted to pay for a project that was agreed upon over two years ago!!

      One more thing, why is it that two other counties are involved in this venture but they don't seem to have any heartburn? Oh yeah, they're acting on intellect instead of emotion.

        Fear Mongering? Please wake up! It is people like you that cant see 2 days into the future that are letting this communism take place. My parents have lived here their entire lives, they worked hard while raising 4 children to pay off their house, now my father has passed on. My mother has to pay over $2000 in taxes to the town and county to live in her home. It takes 85% of her social security checks to do that. It is like she still has to pay rent even though her house is paid for.You honestly cannot see anything wrong with this? Please wake up,you will be in this same position before you know it.

    Sword, Your opulence is showing! Do you own property, a vehicle and travel local roads? Do you even care about the VA. State Constitution and what is in it? Do you have YOUR head in the sand where the current BoS is concerned? They are counting on you to pay for all this spending. How many building projects are you aware of (past & future)? I know you can not be a senior citizen & it matters not about other counties. Maybe you have not been here very long. Opponets started to protest the jail back as far as 2005. Your slanted view "is take everything I own and work for & you can't vote on the issue because I have control of your money through the electorial process" is so socialistic. shruntzm

    My opulence?? So is your insinuation that I need to be a land baron of old to have a legitimate opinion? Also, sir, I've been hospitalized protecting your rights to pontificate your views against the government. As for building projects, I'm rather proud of my county for what it can offer on the pittance the service agencies receive yearly to perform their duties!

    Or maybe I need to show my lineage here in this valley and the fact that it goes back to the late 1700's to have a point of view. At any rate, I refuse to back away from or apologize for being angry that you feel the need to protect me from myself! That, in and of itself, is the surest form of socialism.

    I support a regional jail.
    I support professional, career police and fire/rescue service.
    I support having quality, well maintained facilities for the employees of this county to conduct its business.
    I support educational facilities and personnel for my children to attend and learn from.
    And because of that support, I'm willing to pay for that service.

    Just because you don't support that, DOES NOT make me a communist! It makes me a person who views the situation from a business stand-point with the full knowledge that there are some who will and some who will not like it. So, I'll continue to exercise my right vote as was appropriately mentioned above. I'll also continue to aggravate you with my point view, as you have right to as well, through exercising my 1st Amendment rights.

    I think I remember "Sword" from when we were in elementary school together. I remember when the teacher would leave the room for a moment, she would appoint a student to "take names" of those who misbehaved while she was absent. Usually "Sword" was picked, but even if he wasn't picked, "Sword" would go ahead and take names anyway. Does anyone else remember this?


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