PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY
Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steven L. Walts last week proposed a $1.08 billion budget for the next fiscal year that includes money for class-size reduction and a salary step increase for employees. The spending plan, which represents a 3.9 percent increase over the current budget, was calculated assuming that $536.6 million in local tax revenue would be devoted to education. Reaction to the proposal was generally positive after Walts unveiled it at a school board meeting Wednesday night.
Virginia Dominion Power last spring released 33.7 million gallons of untreated coal-ash water into Quantico Creek, the utility confirmed to InsideNoVa.com last week. As part of the ongoing cleanup ahead of the eventual closure of five coal ash ponds at the Dumfries-area power plant, Dominion drained a total of 52.5 million gallons of untreated coal-ash water from one of those ponds last May. The top 33.7 million gallons — or about 51 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth — were released into Quantico Creek, Dominion spokesman Dan Genest told InsideNoVa.com in an email Feb. 4.
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to join the legal fight against Dominion Virginia Power’s plan to treat and flush an estimated 200 million gallons of coal-ash water from Possum Point power plant into Quantico Creek. The board approved a resolution effectively allowing the county to spend up to $100,000 to pay a Richmond-based law firm, Aqua Law, to appeal a permit modification the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s State Water Control Board granted the utility last month.
The Fredericksburg-area real estate market started 2016 strong, with a total sold volume of $82.9 million, according to data compiled by the Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors. That figure was up nearly 17 percent compared to January 2015. The number of units sold in January also increased, 252 in 2015 to 305 in 2016. “With the Federal Reserve rate hike and the New Year, a lot of people decided to get off the fence and do something,” said FAAR Board of Directors member Drew Fristoe, who noted that January was a surprisingly solid month this year for Fredericksburg real estate.“The snow storm did slow things down for about a week, but before and after were both still very busy times with homes around $300,000 making up the bulk of sales.”
The Virginia State Senate postponed a vote Monday on a bill aimed at restricting what extra amenities local governments can demand from homebuilders to mitigate the impacts of those projects. The reforms to the state’s so-called proffer system have generated controversy, with local officials in Northern Virginia arguing that the legislation would weaken their ability to mitigate the impact of new developments by requiring developers to add new roads or a school.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to create HOT lanes on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway got a bit of a boost in the Senate on Monday when a subcommittee recommended killing a bill that would block tolling of the existing lanes. The subcommittee on tolling doesn’t have the final say, but its recommendation to the full Transportation Committee will carry great weight when the committee votes on Wednesday in Richmond.
The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to prohibit local governments from regulating unmanned aircraft, as Charlottesville tried to do in 2013 when it declared the city a “no drone zone.” Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, said the goal of his legislation is to have uniform rules about drones across the commonwealth — and not different regulations in each locality. He said the House Courts of Justice Committee will explore the issue. “What the bill says is that no locality may regulate this until … the courts committee comes up with a way to make sure that we have an across-the-board way to regulate drones,” Kilgore told delegates during a discussion of House Bill 412 on Monday.
The political war over tolls on Interstate 66 in last fall’s legislative elections ended in armistice on Wednesday, when Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared he had broken the gridlock with a bipartisan coalition of legislators. The deal that ends the war will allow tolls to be applied on I-66 inside the Capital Beltway to pay for an arsenal of improvements — from expanded mass transit to accelerated construction of a new eastbound lane on a 4-mile stretch of the traffic-clogged highway.