PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY
Environmental groups are heading to court to try to block Dominion Virginia Power’s state-approved plan to dump millions of gallons of treated water from coal ash ponds into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. The Southern Environmental Law Center has notified the state Department of Environmental Quality that it plans to challenge in circuit court the state’s decision to give the utility permission to remove water from its ash ponds at Possum Point Power Station by eventually draining them into the public bodies of water.
Citing its benefits to the future of Prince William County and more than 88,000 students, PWCS Superintendent Steve Walts unveiled a proposed $1.08 billion spending plan, up 3.9% from current levels, to fund Virginia’s rapidly growing second-largest school division for the 2016-17 school year. “I am confident that this proposed budget provides our new School Board and our community with a thoughtful plan for funding the educational needs, aspirations, and expectations of our community, Walts said.” He evoked images of PWCS students before highlighting some of the proposed plan’s benefits that reflect longstanding School Board and administration priorities, including efforts to address unmet needs.
Stafford supervisors signed off Tuesday on using $1.8 million in expected proffers for the Courthouse and Route 1 intersection improvement project. The project, expected to relieve traffic in the congested intersection, is in the design phase, and the proffers will help the county meet its approximately $4.3 million share of the cost for the first phase of work. The site plan for the 288 unit Abberly Courthouse development between Jefferson Davis Highway and Old Potomac Church Road was approved.
The Fredericksburg region’s unemployment rate hit 4 percent in December, down from 4.8 percent in December 2014, according to data released by the Virginia Employment Commission on Wednesday. Though regional unemployment fell year-over-year, the jobless rate remained essentially flat—it was 4.1 percent in November. In Caroline County, unemployment fell to 4.6 percent in December 2015 compared to 5.5 percent in December 2014. November’s rate was also 4.6 percent.
Bad news for investors has been good news for home buyers and owners as mortgage rates dropped for the fifth week in a row. Stock indices continued to lose ground this week, and the 10-year Treasury yield sank to near a one-year low. Since the movement of the bond is one of the best indicators whether mortgage rates will rise or fall, the decline in the 10-year Treasury yield foreshadowed lower home loan rates. According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average tumbled to 3.72 percent with an average 0.6 point, falling to its lowest level since April. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.79 percent a week ago and 3.59 percent a year ago.
A bill to shift the balance of power between local governments and developers in Virginia advanced from a Senate committee Tuesday as officials from several suburban Richmond localities tried to stop it. The legislation — which would limit localities’ ability to force developers to pay for public infrastructure to accommodate new residents or change building plans in response to public concerns — passed the Senate Local Government Committee on a 10-2-1 vote.
A House of Delegates subcommittee on Tuesday scrapped a series of bills aimed at nonpartisan redistricting. The five measures were defeated 4-3 in a bloc vote in a subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections panel. Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, who called for the vote, has said that action on redistricting is premature and that even independent commissions to draw districts require politicians to make appointments.
Del. Bob Marshall (R-13th VA) is asking for residential support to help shepherd three bills through the Virginia General Assembly that could help to stop the tolling of I-66. HB 713 would create a referendum to discover whether Northern Virginians using the I-66 corridor support or oppose the tolls. According to Marshall it would “have a wider pool than the study VDOT did of users within 5 miles of the corridor.” The referendum would be advisory and not binding. The second bill, HB 1243, would require voter approval to implement tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway, and the third bill, HB 1244, would require voter approval to implement tolls on I-66 outside the beltway.
If Virginia’s fractious localities can’t stop squabbling and play nice on their own, state leaders are hoping a monetary incentive will entice them. The projected cost to state taxpayers: $38 million and counting. That’s how much Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe put in his two-year budget for an initiative designed to encourage regional cooperation stoke Virginia’s lagging economy. The initiative is sailing through the Republican-controlled General Assembly with widespread bipartisan support, spurred by a high-powered coalition of Virginia business leaders. Legislation pushed by the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in Each Region – GO Virginia for short – won the unanimous approval Wednesday of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, a sign that it’s on a fast track to approval by the Assembly.