Story by Chris Graham
Waynesboro taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill for a lawsuit or a second referendum to resolve a legal snafu involving a recent popular vote affirming three capital-improvements projects.
“I really think we’re making a mistake, but I always thought if I ever got in this dilemma, I would go with the voters. The voters are the people that I work for, and that’s who I’m going to support. And when it came down to it, it wasn’t that hard a decision to me,” Waynesboro City Councilman Frank Lucente said tonight, affirming his support for the bond projects that were ratified by voters on Nov. 6.
Councilman Tim Williams joined Lucente in noting his support for the bond issues – meaning it will be a unanimous city council that will vote in favor of bonds for a new West End fire station, improvements to the city library and improvements to the city stormwater system when they go before the body for approval next year.
Without the votes of Williams and Lucente in support of the issuance of the bonds, the city could have been forced to go to court to try to have the election results validated or to have a new election set for some date in the future.
“I plan to support the referendum. I see no reason to incur the costs to go back to the court or to have another referendum vote,” Williams said tonight.
A long-awaited discussion on what to do about the referendum came on the heels of a presentation by the city’s bond counsel on the particulars of what would have to be done to account for the failure of the city to have the November referendum advertised in The News Virginian pursuant to a Waynesboro Circuit Court order.
A copy of the ad was mailed to the paper in time to have the advertisement run 10 days in advance of the election per the court order, but the ad was never published, bringing into question the validity of the results at the polls.
Williams, who had joined with Lucente before the referendum in opposing spending related to the three capital projects, said tonight that he is “satisfied that the notice would not have made any difference.”
“If you wanted to vote, or if you wanted to vote on this referendum, as many articles that were written, letters to the editor, editorials, that the people who wanted to be informed were informed,” Williams said.
“I don’t have any intentions of trying to not support this referendum,” Williams said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.