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Posted March 27, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Town's jail rainwater proposal draws foes

By Alex Bridges

A proposal for Front Royal to treat the regional jail's rainwater has drawn foes.

Town Council on Monday debated an offer made to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority for Front Royal to supply the facility with water and sewer services. The deal includes the town's treatment of wastewater and rain collected and used in the jail's laundry facility.

Councilman Thomas H. Sayre has proposed the town renew its offer to the jail authority board. Council addressed Sayre's motion to accept the jail's rainwater into the town's sewer system. However, Sayre made a motion to delay action on the offer until council's April 8 meeting, once the authority can discuss and consider Front Royal's proposal. The authority meets next Thursday.

But Councilman Bret W. Hrbek questioned whether the authority would consider a motion approved at a regular meeting or an agreement discussed at a previous work session. Council typically does not take official action on items at work sessions.

"So they're considering a proposal that we didn't vote on," Hrbek said.

Vice Mayor N. Shae Parker concurred that the authority would consider a non-binding proposal.

Hrbek asked, "Shouldn't they be considering the one council actually acted on?"

Town Manager Steven Burke said council would need to address the agreement at the April 8 meeting should they decide to vote on the proposal. Hrbek asked if council should take an official vote on the agreement on which members reached consensus at a work session.

In response to Hrbek's concerns, Parker made a motion that Front Royal offer the regional jail water and sewer service at in-town connection rates for the life of the facility. Sayre argued that Parker's motion went too far by including rates. Town Attorney Douglas Napier said the part of Parker's motion was not germane to Sayre's original request.

Parker's attempt to suspend the rules so he could put his motion on the table for council to consider failed by a vote of 3-2.

But Hrbek said he would oppose Sayre's motion to postpone action on the rainwater deal. Hrbek said he disagrees with taking rainwater from one particular customer until the town knows the impact of doing so on the sewer system and to users in Front Royal and along the U.S. 522 North corridor in the future.

Parker echoed Hrbek's concerns.

"The town citizens are responsible for 10 percent of the constructions costs of this facility, which will include the tap fees," Parker said. "The town citizen will be responsible, ultimately, for 20 percent of the operational costs."

"We should hold off on allowing rainwater into our system until we fix the holes that are in our system until we find something that's fair and uniform for everyone rather than allowing an exception for one entity because of involvement," Parker added.

The motion to delay action passed 3-1 with Hrbek voting against it. Parker abstained from voting.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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