Board OKs attorney to write referendum explanation

Published 11:44 am Friday, October 27, 2017

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed during Monday to take up their attorney’s offer to prepare a neutral explanation of the Courthouse referendum question.

As County Administrator Michael Johnson told the members, the state code allows that such governing bodies may provide for the preparation and printing of a neutral explanation of the Courthouse referendum question, prepared by the County Attorney and limited to 500 or fewer words, for distribution at the polling places on Nov. 7.

In addition, the explanation may be published by paid advertisement in a local newspaper one or more times preceding the referendum.

The question itself on the referendum is: “Shall the courthouse be removed to 30100 Camp Parkway, Courtland, VA, and shall the Board of Supervisors be permitted to spend $26.5 million therefor?” Voters have only two choices: Yes or No.

Opponents of any plans to build a new multi-million courthouse have taken issue with the language in the voter education brochure that’s been available for a little over two months. They feel it favors the proposal.

Johnson continued that “the explanation must contain the actual ballot question and the neutral explanation must be in nontechnical, readily understandable language using words of common everyday usage and avoiding legal terms and phrases or other terms and words of art whose usage or special meaning primarily is limited to a particular field or profession. In other words, no legalese.”

In other business:

The supervisors all accepted a performance agreement for Project Recovery. Amanda Jarrett, president of the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc., walked the board through what the company would be able to do for the county, including figures for taxes, salaries and number of people to be hired. Project Recovery has found a way to de-manufacture tires, and wants to expand the business locally.