FRONT ROYAL – The terms of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s longest-standing board members will expire at the end of this month.
The seats belong to Ron Llewellyn, who was appointed in 2011, and Greg Drescher, who was appointed in 2005. Both said after the EDA’s Friday meeting that they would like to continue serving.
EDA board members are appointed to their four-year terms by the Warren County Board of Supervisors. There is no limit on how long a member can serve.
Also at the Friday meeting, Drescher was appointed to a budget review committee that will review the EDA’s budget before it is formally brought before the board.
Board of Supervisors Clerk Emily Mounce stated in an email that the county has received 10 applications. County Attorney Dan Whitten explained that if the county does not appoint new members or reappoint Drescher and Llewellyn, the two will remain on the board until an appointment is made.
The candidates will not be revealed, as the county cites the Freedom of Information Act’s personnel exemption as the reason to keep this information confidential.
The most recent EDA board appointment was in November when Edwin Daley filled the seat of William Biggs, who resigned after serving as the EDA’s treasurer for three decades.
Others who applied for Biggs’ vacant seat were Robert MacDougall, Gulraiz Hassan and Jeff Browne, all of whom participated in an interview with the media the night of their interviews with the supervisors.
Mounce stated in an email that she informed those three candidates that their applications were carried over to this round of hiring. The county is no longer accepting applications after advertising the position, and Whitten said he is not aware of any candidate interviews scheduled.
The supervisors at their regular meeting last week entered a closed session to discuss the EDA appointments.
Earlier in that meeting, during the public comment period, Fern Vazquez questioned the county’s transparency regarding how a board member is selected.
She said: “It’s unclear to me what guidelines are followed” in selecting board members and how candidates are vetted.
She also voiced displeasure with the county’s lack of transparency regarding a financial consultant hired to look into EDA finances and legal counsel that may represent the board. The exact nature of the financial consultant’s work is unknown but includes examination of up to $291,000 that the town overpaid the EDA for debt service.
So far, $160,000 has been spent on the unidentified financial consultant for its work from Sept. 11 through the beginning of February, and up to $100,000 has been approved for payment to the legal firm.
Vazquez asked the supervisors whether they are sure Drescher and Llewellyn “are free of culpability for past mistakes” if one or both of them are re-appointed.
If the supervisors re-appoint Drescher or Llewellyn, Vazquez asked whether the supervisors are sure the two “are free of culpability for past mistakes.”
She said that the EDA is “incompetent at best” or “rogue” at worst, and it appears the supervisors “turned a blind eye” to the dysfunction.
Vazquez said lacking transparency has “created a credibility and trust gap between” supervisors and citizens. She suggested that the county create a committee of non-partisan citizens to serve as a liaison between county officials and the community.