Council mulls move from May to November
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Town Council elections likely will move from May to November and in even years through a proposed change in the locality's charter.
Council members reached a consensus at a work session Monday to seek legislative approval by the Virginia General Assembly to change the town charter to allow it to shift elections. The consensus did not appear unanimous as some council members expressed favor toward holding elections on odd years.
But Town Council noted they face a hurdle in transitioning to the November elections.
"I think it clears the whole thing up," said Mayor Timothy Darr, downplaying concerns a presidential election could overshadow contests for town council. "I think you're going to get lost in any election you're in."
Town Attorney Douglas Napier told the council that he saw problems with one proposal to change the elections, which would have cut the terms of three members but not affect the other councilmen. As Napier explained, three council members would, under the shift, serve a term shorter than the usual four years in the next May election. Voters would know at the time of election their choice would serve a short term.
Town Manager Steven Burke and Napier explained the charter need not include the process by which Front Royal holds its elections, just the language on when and in which years.
Also, at their work session council members heard an update by Tourism Director Tim Smith on efforts to expand the birthday celebration through 2013. Smith ran down a list of possible events and promotional items the town could use throughout the year for the anniversary festivities.
"You're only 225 years old once," Darr said.
Council expressed interest in the possibility of a reenactment of the Battle of Front Royal on the former Avtex site.
Smith also told council he had been in contact with a man in Phoenix, Ariz., who has performed as Bing Crosby since the mid 1970s. The director said he estimated the cost to hire the impressionist at $2,000 not including the performer's airfare. The singer could perform with his usual trio or with local musicians.
Finance Director Kim Gilkey-Breeden explained that council would need to pass a budget amendment because the town did not include spending for the celebration in the 2013 financial plan. Council members and officials pointed out that once organizers determine a cost they could seek financial assistance through sponsorship, which would reduce the cost to the town.
"I think we need to realize that the first number is going to be kind of high," Darr said.
Smith presented a framed copy of the town's articles of incorporation, which he plans to put in the Front Royal government building. He plans to put more copies on display in Samuels Library and the Warren County government center.