Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Virginia Beach does not need to pay for light-rail study

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Philip Shucet, Hampton Road Transit president and CEO, said, " I carefully reviewed the verbatim transcript from the May 19, 2009, Virginia Beach, Va., City Council meeting, it is clear to me that HRT committed with certainty that no local City funds would be used to fund the Alternatives Analysis and Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Though our policy is clear that federal grants are locally matched by a partner city, the firm recorded commitment made by HRT is compelling. We will honor that commitment for this particular local match requirement. It's the right thing to do, especially in this case where Virginia Beach supported acquiring the federal funding with the specific understanding that a city match was not necessary. As such, HRT withdraws its request that the Virginia Beach City Council supply the local match.

"But let me be clear: Going forward, we will not waver from our policy requiring localities to meet any local match requirements associated with future appropriations. It is one thing to keep a prior commitment made and received in good faith. But I do not want there to be any question about where we stand with respect to this matter in the future."

HRT Chairman and Virginia Beach City Councilman Jim Wood said, "As was promised by HRT's past president, the citizens of Virginia Beach can rest assured that the feasibility study will be funded without city dollars. HRT should be applauded for its decision today. Part of taking steps toward rebuilding public confidence requires honoring previous commitments. Now we can move forward as partners."

HRT Commissioner and Virginia Beach City Councilman John Uhrin agreed. "I'm pleased that HRT has taken this step to ensure the funds are in place to continue this important study. This goes a long way in restoring trust in the way HRT does business."

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