State Senate Majority Leader Adeiard L. Brault (D-Fairfax), who is a major landlord to the Fairfax County government, has had a bill introduced in the House of Delegates that could make it more difficult for the county to move its governmental center from Fairfax City.
The bill was introduced by Del. Raymond F. Vickey Jr. (D-Fairfax), who described Brault as "one of my constituents."
Under the bill which is being considered this week by the House Privileges and Elections Committee, Fairfax City and Falls Church voters would be able to participate in any county referendum on whether to move the courthouse, which is part of the present governmental centers in Fairfax City.
The county supervisors have authorized spending $5,000 for appraisals of four possible sites in the county for a new courthouse and governmental complex.They are expected to make a decision within two months.
No referendum is required for the county to move its administrative offices, now housed in the Massey Building tower and in scattered leased space, including a building owned in part by Brault. But Fairfax officials have said a shift of the entire center, including the courthouse, is more likely than moving only county offices.
If the supervisors do decide on moving the entire center, the courthouse referendum would be crucial to such a plan.
If the Vickery bill passes and a referendum is held, Fairfax City's vote - which probably would be heavily against a move from the city - could have major impact on the outcome.
The county pays Brault and his partners $268,573 annually for 34,500 square feet of office space it rents in their Fairfax Building at 10555 Main St. in Fairfax City.
Brault's law offices are in the Brault Building next door to the Fairfax Building, a short walk from the courthouse and the Massey Building.
Brault said he requested the bill because any proposal to move the courthouse "would be of vital interest to the citizens of Fairfax City and Falls Church." Both cities are within the judicial circuit that also includes the county, and their criminal cases are tried in the courthouse along with the county's.
At the same time, Brault said he wouldn't vote on the bill if it comes before the Senate "because of the possible conflict of interest." He also said that "in my opinion the courthouse should not be removed. It would be too costly, and the taxpayers should not be required to bear the cost."