Employee who opposed sales tax leaves job

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

A member of the city’s management team abruptly resigned Friday, one day after casting the lone dissenting vote against a regional transportation organization’s endorsement of this fall’s sales tax referendum.

Laura Harris, senior administrative analyst for nearly two years, on Thursday voted against the District Commission of Hampton Roads’ support of the referendum that will appear on ballots in November. The referendum will ask voters to approve a 1 percentage point sales tax increase – from 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent – to pay for several major transportation projects in Hampton Roads.

Although Harris represented the city on the 14-member commission that oversees operations of Hampton Roads Transit, she recently said her vote reflected her personal – rather than the city’s – stance.

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Harris has gone on record saying she opposes using sales tax money to fund the projects. But according to reports, after talking with city management about the city’s official views later Thursday, Harris said she should have voted in favor of the referendum.

Dana Woodson, spokeswoman for the city, said recently that Harris’s vote should have reflected the city’s views.

Woodson would not say whether Harris’ departure was in any way related to her actions at last week’s meeting.

Neither Harris nor City Manager Myles E. Standish could be reached for comment.

Harris, with the city since November 2000, is responsible for collecting, analyzing and presenting statistical data; overseeing grant management; acting as a liaison between the city and state or federal agencies; and preparing speeches for city officials to deliver at meetings and ceremonies.