Spotsylvania baseball deal

A financial consultant has waived its $23,750 bill to Spotsylvania County for a 2015 analysis of a proposed taxpayer-financed minor league baseball stadium.

Some members of the Board of Supervisors had expressed frustration with the charge, saying they thought the county’s annual $36,900 retainer fee to Richmond-based Davenport & Co. would cover the stadium study.

In a letter waiving the fee, Davenport Senior Vice President Courtney Rogers wrote that he was confident “we and county staff will address issues like this earlier in the process.”

The issue may be the last chapter of the controversial stadium proposal, which died last year.

“Given the confusion around the timing of the work, where it fell between our old and new contracts plus the nominal size of our invoice, we would like to withdraw the invoice entirely,” Rogers wrote in the letter dated March 25.

Supervisor Paul Trampe said he appreciated the move. “They do good work for the county, and I’m glad something like this didn’t poison the well,” he wrote in an email.

At a meeting in February, the supervisors voted to delay a decision on whether to dip into a contingency fund to pay Davenport and Co. for its work. Chairman Timothy McLaughlin said he wanted to wait until the county had “more facts on the table.”

The county has paid the firm a retainer since 2010. A staff report stated that “special projects” such as the stadium study are billed at an agreed-upon hourly rate.

McLaughlin noted that the supervisors publicly voted to spend up to $30,000 on outside counsel during the stadium discussions. But they never voted to authorize the additional money for the baseball study, he said, calling it a “breakdown in the process.”

County officials commissioned the study during negotiations to relocate the Hagerstown Suns, the Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, to Spotsylvania. The stadium proposal failed after facing vehement opposition from some residents who called it a waste of taxpayer money.

The study costs include a $4,050 charge on May 5, when the supervisors hosted a public hearing on the stadium that stretched past midnight. Three Davenport employees attended the meeting to give a presentation. One of them charged the county for eight hours of work that day and the other two charged for three hours.

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​Jeff Branscome: 540.374-5402 

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