At Monday night’s regular monthly session at town hall, the Washington Town Council breezed through a short agenda, passing all resolutions unanimously with little to no debate. To add to the amiable air, Mayor John Sullivan announced the town’s fiscal year 2018 budget is balanced.
Sullivan said the balanced budget was mainly due to increased revenue from water and wastewater rates, which were raised by 100 percent over two years, and a decrease in legal fees from litigation-heavy 2016. He stated there is even a chance of a surplus, from possible additional revenue, from land sales of the remaining two parcels of the Avon Hall estate. The mayor also suggested the town not wait another six years to raise water and wastewater rates sharply but do it more gradually.
Council member Gary Aichele gave an update on the status of the Avon Hall property. “The corner of Leggett Lane and Warren Avenue has seen some interest,” he said, and in accordance with the town’s original plan for the sale of the estate, all interested parties have been directed to Town Attorney John Bennett. When Bennett has received a “proper purchase price” and plans “sufficiently specific to allow the council to assess them,” a sale can move forward.
Among the requirements for a plan, Aichele noted that it must be “consistent with the unique character, architecture and history of the town,” And in response to a question during public comment from Sheila Gresinger, Aichele said both remaining parcels of the former Avon Hall estate are “actively on the market.”
The council passed a resolution to continue its meeting to 7 p.m., April 17, for a joint work session with the planning commission for the town’s comprehensive plan revision. The public is encouraged to attend the meeting at town hall.
The council also approved an increase the town’s annual contribution to the Rappahannock Food Pantry from $1,750 to $2,000 — even though the pantry recently moved to Sperryville. “I sometimes hear that the people who live in the town of Washington only care about the people who live in the town of Washington,” said council member Gary Aichele.
The public comments section was short and ended sweet with merit from resident T. Allan Comp: “This council has really brought this town’s finances into a much stronger position. And I would hope that the council would vote itself some accolades for having done so, well done.”