Board to consider opposing House bill

By Kim Walter — kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL — The Warren County Board of Supervisors is being asked to oppose legislation in the General Assembly that could cost the county close to $50,000 annually.

County Attorney Blair Mitchell and his staff are asking the board to adopt a resolution to oppose House Bill 185. The matter is on the consent agenda for the board’s meeting today at 7 p.m. at the Warren County Government Center.

Local governments now can adopt local traffic and misdemeanor criminal code provisions that mirror state provisions, according to a document written by Mitchell and his staff. Summonses and warrants can be written under local or state codes, or local prosecutors can change them to local offenses prior to a trial.

Once the offense is written under local codes, the offender pays the associated fine to the locality instead of the state.

“In Warren County, revenues from local fines over the past several years have averaged about $49,000 annually,” the document says.

House Bill 185 would take away the option to write offenses under local codes. A recommendation made to the governor last year argues the move would enhance state revenue without raising taxes, the document says.

Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, introduced the bill for consideration.

According to Mitchell’s statement, the rationale for the change was that the state funds courthouses and court staffs. The county attorney and his staff argue that the localities build and maintain courthouses, and local law enforcement, which receives salary supplements from localities, handles the offenses.

“In short, the suggestion is a method of the State taking needed revenues from the localities, without giving back anything in return, and with a flawed rationale for doing so,” the document says. “The current law has been functioning well for decades. Staff can recognize no reason to consider changing it by the adoption of House Bill 185.”