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The idea of a referendum divides City Council
One of those options is to make renovations to improve security in the existing circuit court building on Princess Anne Street.
Whether such improvements would meet the approval of circuit court judges is uncertain. But Circuit Judge Gordon Willis, the resident judge in the city, has told the council he doesn't want to see a "Band-Aid" approach
At a public hearing last week, residents had mixed opinions on the courthouse.
Howe maintains that there hasn't been more backlash from city residents because they don't yet know the true price tag of the project and how much their taxes will go up.
The proposals range from $31 million to $41 million.
Howe said part of his rationale for putting forth a referendum is that the public hasn't had enough say in the decision.
Howe has two allies on the council--Bea Paolucci and Brad Ellis.
MORE INPUT SOUGHT
Ellis said he supports more public input.
"Anything we can do to help steer this project from a public's point of view is a good thing in my mind," he said.
"The idea of a referendum is appealing to me because it will do just that. It will put this issue right in the face of voters that actually have to make a choice and provide some input," he said.
Paolucci said she doesn't disagree with the idea of a referendum.
"The basic premise, allowing voters to vote for something of this importance having this much impact I don't think it's a bad idea to put it out there for a vote," she said.
Council member George Solley said he thinks the public hearing last week produced good input.
Going for a referendum is moot since the city attorney has issued her opinion, said Vice Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw.
She dismissed the notion that the public hasn't had an opportunity for input.
Mayor Tom Tomzak said a referendum doesn't need to be used.
"I think the City Council is elected by the public to make decisions and provide leadership to get Fredericksburg into the future," he said.
Councilwoman Kerry Devine echoed the point.
"We've been elected to do a job and represent the community and make tough decisions," she said.
"Decisions have to be made in good economic times and poor economic times. We have to look at long-range issues with the city. That's what we've been doing with the courthouse since 2005."
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413