Letter: Vote on swap
The city of Warrenton has four major capital assets, which are: the water supply system, the sewer system, 35 acres of land at Tansy Point and the City Hall building, including the fire station. The annual rental income from Tansy Point is currently $100,000, and will increase to $180,000 in October 2015.
The Warrenton City Commission is currently empowered to sell or swap city assets without voter approval, and recently voted on a proposal to swap Tansy Point land (estimated land value of at least $10 million) to the existing leaseholder (a private company) in exchange for land located in another area of Warrenton, plus the new land received in exchange, which would include a new building for the city to use for the Public Works Department.
This proposal was defeated by a vote of 3-2 by the City Commission on this land swap.
There is significant opposition by some Warrenton city voters who are opposed to this land swap proposal for the following reasons:
1. This land is generating $100,000 of annual rent revenue, and this is scheduled to increase up to $180,000 starting in October 2015. How will this revenue be replaced?
2. There is a strong belief that this land is worth substantially more than what is being offered in the land swap proposal.
3. The land was going to be swapped without any other private owner being given an opportunity to bid for this land.
4. The transfer of the third most valuable asset of the city of Warrenton is a potentially divisive issue for a large group of Warrenton voters. Many city residents feel that a sale or swap of one of the four major assets of Warrenton should be approved by a vote of the city residents in an election, and not by the City Commission.
There is a petition being circulated with the intent of having an initiative placed on a future public election ballot that would put into place a new procedure for future sales of major city assets. It would require a super majority vote by the citizens of Warrenton on any city asset sale, or swap, with a value greater that $100,000 in current value dollars and would increase with inflation in the future. Please note, there have been only two occasions in Warrenton city history when a city asset was sold for more than $100,000.