Traffic code resolution tabled after clarification

Gilbert allays concerns bill could cost county almost $50,000 in fines

By Kim Walter — kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL — A resolution to oppose a House of Delegates bill that could cost Warren County nearly $50,000 a year in traffic fines was tabled at Tuesday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

County Attorney Blair Mitchell and County Administrator Doug Stanley were contacted by Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, Tuesday morning, to clarify the purpose of House Bill 185.

Gilbert agreed that the bill was “poorly drafted,” and wasn’t specific enough in it’s description of what localities the bill would affect. It states: “A person summoned or arrested for a misdemeanor offense under the Code of Virginia shall be charged and tried for that offense and shall not be charged and tried for a violation of a local ordinance representing a like offense.”

Mitchell felt that if enacted with such wording, the county would lose about $49,000 in revenue from fines related to the offenses charged under it’s local codes. Because of that, Mitchell and his staff wanted the supervisors to oppose the bill.

However, Gilbert said this wasn’t the intention for the bill originally.

“[The bill is] in response to a few commonwealth attorneys around the state who have been amending state police warrants to warrants written under local ordinances, in order to divert fine revenue from the state to the locality,” Gilbert said. He explained that while the practice is prohibited for traffic violations, there is a loophole in which localities can enact their own ordinance, the most common being drunk driving.

“This is not a practice being employed in Warren County,” Gilbert said. “Now, we’re in the process of rewriting the bill to make it more clear.”

Once the draft is complete, Mitchell plans to review it and, unless he finds an issue, the resolution will be dropped for further consideration.

“The bill won’t stop [the county] from conducting business as it is now,” Gilbert said of the rewritten version.

In other matters, the board:

• Authorized advertisement of a public hearing on Feb. 21, concerning two leases and an option to Zachry Industrial, Inc. for lay down and staging areas during construction of the Dominion Power Electric Generation Plant in the Kelly Industrial Park.

• Recognized and thanked members of the county’s 175th Anniversary Planning Committee for their hard work and dedication in last year’s events.