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Museum seeks fee waiver page 2
City Council members say they're willing to discuss request to help ease construction costs.


Date published: 6/11/2005

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Councilwoman Debby Girvan said she felt it was "sometimes customary" for localities to offer support for new economic-impact projects. She said she would want to see figures on the amount of revenue involved and whether the city was in a position to offer it.

Councilwoman Kerry Devine said she would like to work with the slavery museum, but wasn't yet able to say whether she would give her support.

Councilman Hashmel Turner Jr. said he is "leaning toward" supporting the slavery museum's request and wants to ensure equity between the city's support for that museum and for the Fredericksburg Area Museum.

"There is concern how the two of them will be fairly supported, so I think we'll be balancing the support for either or the other," Turner said.

The council is considering giving the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center $500,000 over the next five years. Officials with the museum, which sits at the corner of Princess Anne and William streets, had sought $1 million.

The council approved a $1 million loan to the slavery museum in 2002. It is being repaid through a special tax district set up within Celebrate Virginia South.

City officials anticipate the full amount will be repaid in three to four years. As of yesterday, $273,907.65 had been recouped.

Councilman Billy Withers said he would want to see what city staff recommended, but would consider waiving some of the fees.

"There's been such a little bit of information about the project, it's difficult to know what you would do," he said.

Councilman Matt Kelly was the least equivocal in his views. He said that if the total is roughly $50,000, he doesn't see a problem.

"I don't think it's excessive in comparison to the museum's potential to the community," he said.

Councilman Tom Fortune could not be reached for comment. Mayor Tom Tomzak could not be reached directly for comment on the request to waive the fees, but left a message in response to a call to his home, saying he supports the museum.

To reach PAMELA GOULD:540/657-9101pgould@freelancestar.com


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