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State wants to join transportation suit

Virginia leaders want to join a lawsuit that would allow the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to raise money for road projects.

The authority filed the lawsuit last Friday in Arlington County Circuit Court as a pre-emptive measure, asking the court to affirm the authority’s power to raise revenue and to spend it.

In a motion filed Wednesday, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, state House Speaker William J. Howell and Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell asked the court to allow them to join the suit as plaintiffs.

Critics of the law include Loudoun County supervisors, who argue it is unconstitutional and fear it could create scenarios of favoritism when the authority decides where and how to spend the money.

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE

Struggling church bought a Bentley

A church unable to pay a $12,000 water bill and facing foreclosure bought a custom-built Bentley Arnage luxury automobile in 2005 for its pastor’s use, the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday.

The 140-year-old First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church in West Baltimore suffered heavy fire damage after lightning struck its steeple last week, leading to an outpouring of sympathy and support from city officials and well-wishers.

Church spokesman Bryan Miller declined to comment about the church’s financial position. “My hopes are that at some time I will be able to respond,” he said. “But at this point, no comment.”

A spokesman for Mayor Sheila Dixon, who pledged her support after the fire, declined to comment.

Bishop Oscar Brown, who received the Bentley, said the church received financial support from across the nation after the fire and a $4 million insurance payout. GuideOne Insurance said a final valuation on the church’s policy will take several weeks.

The 3,000-member church took out a $1.5 million mortgage on the property in 2002. Just days before the fire, SunTrust Bank notified the church it would auction off the property this month.

Matthew Smith, a salesman at EuroMotorcars in Bethesda, said a handbuilt 2002 Bentley Arnage costs $225,000 new. But he said the car would be worth about $120,000 now and would have sold for $130,000 to $150,000 in 2005.

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