The Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority remains in the red but representatives say finances should continue to improve.

The Board of Directors held its regular meeting Friday and heard the Finance Committee’s report on the EDA’s finances for the first quarter of fiscal 2021, which began July 1.

The EDA allocated $339,532 of its total fiscal budget for operations for the entire year or $84,883 as a quarter of the spending plan. However, the report shows the EDA had already spent $101,837 in the first quarter. The authority ended the first quarter in the red by $16,834. Whether or not the EDA can make up the deficit and end the current fiscal year in the black remains uncertain.

Board Chairman Jeff Browne explained by phone Friday that the cost of legal services continues to drive up the EDA’s expenses. The EDA budgeted $12,000 for the entire fiscal year to cover legal fees. The EDA spent $15,763 on legal fees in the first three months of the fiscal year alone, according to the financial report. Sharon Pandak works as the EDA's attorney.

“I can’t say that we’re necessarily over budget but probably we are a little bit, mostly because of attorney fees, would be the biggest thing,” Browne said. “We’ve been trying to deal with some issues that have taken a lot more of her time than we anticipated.

“Now, if at the end of the year, we can lower other areas and still for the attorney’s fees, we’re totally on budget,” Browne added. “It’s difficult in our circumstance ... to be lowering attorney’s fees just given our situation.”

The EDA board adopted the budget with the thought that Warren County would bring the authority under the government’s purview. The EDA would pay less for attorneys fees had that happened because the authority would have been under the Warren County government, Browne said. Now the EDA pays full price for its legal fees.

Also at the board meeting, members:

  • Approved a three-month lease at $2,100 per month with Dollar Tree Distribution Inc. for parking lot space at 426 Baugh Drive, Front Royal.
  • Approved giving board Secretary Greg Harold authority to review and award a contract for mold removal in the former Avtex building in Executive Director Doug Parsons’ absence.
  • Approved a resolution to move forward with a settlement agreement with the heirs of the late Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron to collect $90,000 from the heirs.

After a closed meeting, the board:

  • Discussed the disposition of publicly held property, specifically 426 Baugh Drive, the Afton Inn and McKay Springs.
  • Discussed a prospective business or industry, or expansion of an existing business or industry, not previously announced, with an interest in locating or expanding its facilities in the community, the Stephens Industrial Park and the Happy Creek Industrial Park, the Avtex parking lot and the Kelly Industrial Park.
  • Consulted with legal counsel concerning litigation, specifically the cases of Town of Front Royal v. EDA, EDA v. Town of Front Royal and EDA v. Jennifer McDonald et al.
  • Consulted with legal counsel for advice concerning Waste Management and First Bank & Trust.
  • Discussed or considered spending money to remediate mold from the Avtex building.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com