FRONT ROYAL - The Board of Supervisors during a Tuesday work session came to the consensus that the county should serve as the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s fiscal agent, which means the county would be responsible for every EDA financial transaction.
County Administrator Doug Stanley explained that the EDA has a small staff - an executive director and administrative assistant - and “multiple layers” of oversight would be provided if the county becomes the fiscal agent.
Warren County Human Resources Manager Jodi Saffelle said additional checks and balances would be provided as the EDA would follow the county’s contract procurement policy. She added that any deals would be the subject of reviews by both the Board of Supervisors and the EDA board.
“There would be transparency in EDA bookkeeping and record keeping,” she said.
Negative aspects to the decision, Saffelle said, include that the county's finance and administration departments would have an extra workload. She added that the county would also be responsible for handling Freedom of Information Act requests for EDA documents.
Stanley said the county would be compensated for the increased workload by decreasing the amount of money it provides the EDA’s operational budget.
Saffelle added that another downfall of the decision would be “the perception of the county and the EDA being too entangled.”
Stanley said the pros outweigh the cons “from the standpoint of checks and balances.” He added that while the EDA has previously been involved in funding a variety of town and county projects, that may not be the case “in the near future.”
Interim EDA Director John Anzivino said his recommendation is that the EDA not be so involved in financing future projects “until they get their feet back under them.” He said the EDA does many things “outside of the wheelhouse of basic economic development” and the board would like to get back “to basic economic development and creation of high-quality jobs and expansion of tax base.”
“We’ve begun to really take steps to ensure that we are a better-operated organization, and this is a big step,” he said.
The county and EDA will in the future vote upon a memorandum of agreement to finalize the decision.