FRONT ROYAL - Warren County supervisors Tom Sayre and Archie Fox say they would oppose more funding for the investigation of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s finances unless they are given details of the work being done.
The Board of Supervisors has paid an unrevealed financial consultant $160,000 for about five months of work regarding EDA financial matters. The board has also approved a cap of $100,000 - none of which has yet been spent - that may be paid to the Sands Anderson law firm for representing the EDA.
Sayre said he would not vote in favor of another round of funding for the consultant or firm because he is “in the dark as to what exactly is going on.”
“We want details,” Sayre said.
Sayre said he and Fox had thought for a while that there was “hanky panky” going on at the EDA but County Administrator Doug Stanley, EDA Attorney Dan Whitten and the supervisors “thought everything was fine.” He said his desire for more details has nothing to do with his pending civil case against former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald but that he is uncomfortable approving more money when he does not know details.
“It’s just that people are upset over the expenditures. Just today I had a Front Royal police officer tell me how upset he was about the amount of money we’re spending,” he said.
Fox said over the phone that he does not plan on allocating any more money toward the consultant or law firm. He added that if a request for more funding was submitted, he would like to know more about how it is being used.
“I think that’s a common sense approach. I’m not, you know, after anybody or anything like that,” he said.
Fox said he does not feel like he is being kept in the dark, but there are “some things” he would be interested in learning more about. He said all he knows is that “evidently there is something amiss.”
When informed of Sayre’s comments, Murray said over the phone that no one should attempt to “intimidate the board” and should instead focus on doing what is right for the community and not play “those types of games.”
Sayre responded that “it’s not a game." He also noted that Murray has sat inside of EDA closed sessions.
Murray said that he does not have any “inside information” and the closed sessions he attended regarded the hiring of an interim EDA executive director and he knows just as much as Sayre and Fox regarding the findings of the financial consultant. He added that “people who throw stones at glass houses should be careful because glass breaks.”
Sayre asked: “What’s that have to do with what’s going on?”
“Are we throwing stones? I didn’t realize, I didn’t think so...I think we’re being prudent and careful,” he said.
Murray added that the investigation would run its course and the supervisors are “not hiding anything.”
“I wish I knew. I get too many phone calls about it,” he said.
Murray said he is not opposed to allocating more funding to the financial consultant or Sands Anderson because they need to get paid for their services.
Supervisor Tony Carter said over the phone that the “there’s really not a whole lot that we can say.” He added that the board did not initially think it would have to spend this much money and “hopefully there’s not going to be much more if any.”
“We’ll just have to wait and see how the reviews progress,” Carter said.
Supervisor Linda Glavis did not respond to a phone message.