ACTION ITEMS

 

 

 

Text Box: STANDARDS OF QUALITY FUNDING

 

 

 

 

Legislative Position of TJPDC, Charlottesville,

and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson

 

The Planning Districtís member localities believe the state should fund its share of the realistic costs of meeting the Standards of Quality (SOQ) and that existing education programs should not be eliminated to fund SOQ requirements.

 

Our localities appreciate General Assembly action this past year to address shortfalls in education funding, and encourage continued efforts to address critical items such as the SOQ, teacher salaries and technology initiatives. We continue to believe that additional state revenues are necessary for the Commonwealth to meet its responsibility for funding education, as enumerated by the 2001 JLARC recommendations and the 2003 Board of Education (BOE) initiatives. As the state moves forward in implementing the higher staffing levels included in those BOE proposals, it is important to recognize that higher staffing levels already are in place in many school divisions because of local support for education far exceeding the state-required local minimum contribution.

Accordingly, while making these efforts, the state should not require any maintenance of local effort other than that associated with the SOQís current, required local effort. A maintenance of effort not connected to the SOQ would punish localities that voluntarily appropriate locally generated dollars beyond the required minimum in an effort to sustain high quality education for all students.

We continue to urge state financial assistance with school capital needs and remain concerned about the continued raiding of the Literary Fund, historically used to provide low interest loans for school construction, to pay for teacher retirement.

Finally, as our school divisionsí progress toward the Standards of Accreditation (SOA) accountability goals for both schools and students, and face increased costs for complying with accountability provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, any reductions in state education funding would hinder the efforts being made.

 

Text Box: TRANSPORTATION

 

 

 

 

Legislative Position of TJPDC, Charlottesville,

and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson

 

The Planning Districtís member localities urge the state to address funding shortfalls in transportation construction while continuing to provide secondary road and street maintenance funding on top of construction dollars. The state should establish additional revenues for Virginiaís transportation infrastructure, including consideration of increases in state transportation-related taxes and fees, without heavy reliance on the general fund or debt.

 

Transportation is expected to be a primary focus of the 2005 session. This past year, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) trimmed the annual six-year plan by over $1 billion after consideration of additional transportation revenues was dropped during budget negotiations. Despite continued documentation of the need to fund a declining transportation infrastructure, no reliable and long-term transportation funding solutions have been approved. Complicating matters is the fact that construction dollars increasingly must be used to support maintenance activities, and debt service continues to impact the flow of dollars, since much of it comes ďoff the topĒ before funding allocations are made.

We believe the state should direct its funding efforts at all transportation modes. It should account for the needs of urban areas where public transportation continues to be very important, the traffic demands placed on fast-growing localities and the ongoing improvements necessary on our rural, secondary roads.  These necessary improvements are vital to our ability to respond to local and regional congestion and economic development issues.

  We support the CTBís ongoing efforts to align transportation revenues with expenditures and to coordinate transportation and land use planning. We support funding for the TransDominion Express with stops at Oak Ridge and Charlottesville. We endorse the use of modern roundabouts in lieu of conventional intersection design and allowance of signal replacement funding for construction of roundabouts.

Finally, we request that the state recognize that creation of any local transportation district serve as a mechanism to enhance accompanying public and private dollars for projects in accordance with local priorities, rather than to replace that funding.

Text Box: COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES ACT

 

 

 

 

 

Legislative Position of TJPDC, Charlottesville,

and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson

 

The Planning Districtís member localities support full funding of the state pool for the Comprehensive Services Act (CSA), with allocations based on realistic anticipated levels of need, and a cap on local expenditures for serving a child through CSA.

 

Since the inception of the Comprehensive Services Act over a decade ago, there has been pressure to hold down costs, to cap state costs for serving mandated children, to increase local match levels and to make the program more uniform by attempting to control how localities run their programs. During this time, state and local costs of residential and non-residential mandated services have steadily increased. Initial state appropriations for CSA fall short each year, challenging the state to find its share of funding and forcing localities to request supplemental state appropriations. In fact, many localities exhaust their annual base allocation in only a few months. We believe this distinction between base and supplemental budgets should be eliminated and that caps be placed on local expenditures to combat higher local costs for serving mandated children. We support enhanced state funding for services for non-mandated children and believe that the categories of populations mandated for services should not be expanded unless the state pays all the costs.

We encourage the state to be proactive in making service providers available, especially in rural areas, and to support local and regional efforts to address areas of cost sharing among localities by procuring services through group negotiation.

LOCAL NUMBERS TO BE INSERTED HERE:

řAlbemarle

 řCharlottesville

řFluvanna

řGreene

řLouisa

řNelson

Text Box: TAX STRUCTURE REFORM

 

 

 

 

Legislative Position of TJPDC, Charlottesville,

and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson

 

The Planning Districtís member localities believe that changes to Virginiaís tax code should not reduce local government revenues or restrict local taxing authority. The state should broaden the revenue sources available to local governments, rather than capping, removing or restricting those sources, taxing authority or user fees.

 

We oppose unfunded state and federal mandates and the cost shifting that occurs when the state fails to fund mandates or reduces or eliminates funding for state-supported programs. This cost shifting reduces the ability, especially in our rural localities, to meet local needs and forces our citizens to bear tax and fee increases (which our localities have implemented) to pay for such programs and services. State funding reductions for state-required services/programs should be accompanied by relaxation of the state requirement.

While we recognize that financing government programs and projects should be a partnership between the state and localities, with our limited ability to raise funds and our sometimes-stagnant revenue streams, we strain to meet services demanded by residents and those mandated by the state and federal governments. Accordingly, the state should not reduce local government revenues or restrict local taxing authority; rather, it should equalize the revenue-raising authority of counties with that of cities and consider sharing a portion of state income tax revenues with localities. It also is critical that the state budget be provided ďon timeĒ to localities, so that they can have assurances about expected revenue streams.

The governor and legislature must correct the local cash flow dilemma created by a lapse of $270 million in state payments for the Personal Property Tax Relief Act expected for FY06, and should ensure that reimbursements continue to be provided in a timely manner. Otherwise, the state should allow localities to regain authority to assess and collect personal property taxes, which was lost when PPTRA was created in 1998.

Any changes to the telecommunications tax structure should preserve local government revenues, including those for E911 services, and guarantee that localities receive growing tax revenues from emerging and advancing industries and services. The state should not divert any such new revenue to address future budget shortfalls.

We believe the state should consider paying all costs for fully funding certain state programs carried out at the local level, such as constitutional officers. We request that the state undertake long term planning in establishing VRS rates so that localities are not burdened with significant year-to-year rate changes.

Text Box: PUBLIC SAFETY

 

 

 

 

 

Legislative Position of TJPDC, Charlottesville,

and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson

 

The Planning Districtís member localities encourage state financial support, cooperation and assistance for law enforcement, criminal justice activities, emergency medical care and fire services responsibilities carried out locally.

 

            We encourage the state to make Compensation Board funding a top priority. The Compensation Board should fully fund local positions that fall under its purview. It should not increase the local share of funding constitutional offices or divert funding away from local offices, but increase money needed for their operation. Local governments continue to provide much supplemental funding for constitutional officer budgets, which were shortchanged in recent years.

We support continued state funding of drug courts. Local funding has aided this court-supervised alternative to jail or probation that has proven it saves dollars (cost is $3,000-$5,000/year compared with $19,000/year for adult incarceration) and lowers recidivism (single digit rates since inception of the local drug court).

            In addition, we support the following:

          Shared funding by the state of the costs to construct and operate regional jails. However, we do not believe the state should operate local and regional jails. Also, the state should not adopt language that would disallow exemptions from the federal prisoner offset and should maintain the per diem payment to localities for housing state-responsible prisoners.

          Continued state funding of the HB 599 law enforcement program.

          Continued state funding for services under the Pre-Release and Post-Incarceration Services (PAPIS), Community Corrections and Pretrial Services Acts.

          Legislation that will enable localities to install and operate traffic light signal photo-monitoring systems.

Text Box: LAND USE AND GROWTH MANAGEMENT

 

 

 

 

Legislative Position of TJPDC, Charlottesville,

and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson

 

The Planning Districtís member localities oppose any preemption or circumvention of existing local authority to regulate land use and encourage the state to provide local governments with additional tools to manage growth.

 

Current land use authority often is inadequate to allow local governments to provide for balanced, sustainable growth in a manner that protects and improves the quality of life. This has posed particular challenges for our fast-growing localities, which often need additional powers to shape and mange growth.  Unfortunately, in recent years, the state has limited local governments in their efforts to manage growth by enacting provisions that reduced local authority to enforce the comprehensive plan or to regulate land use.

Further, infrastructure costs associated with new developments are borne by all taxpayers, rather than by those bringing about the need for the expenditure, thus straining our ability to pay for these costs of growth in a time of declining revenues. Accordingly, we support legislation to allow localities to adopt ordinances that include provisions for determining whether public facilities are adequate (APF ordinances) to support services required by a proposed development.

 

Specific Recommendations:

          The General Assembly should preserve existing authority for localities to regulate land use.

          We support enabling legislation that would provide local governments with various additional tools, such as impact fees, flexibility for proffers, adequate public facilities ordinances and transfer and purchase of development rights, to manage growth.

          We support 1) dedicated state funding to acquire, preserve and maintain open space and recreation lands, including directing available federal funds to localities, and 2) the full authority to generate local dollars for such efforts.

          We endorse legislation to enable localities to enact scenic protection and tourist enhancement districts.  

          We oppose changes (e.g. required mandatory setbacks) to the Uniform Statewide Building Code that hinder the implementation of local ordinances.

 

  

 

AREAS OF CONTINUING CONCERN

Text Box: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 

 

 

The Planning Districtís member localities recognize economic development and workforce training as essential to the continued viability of the Commonwealth. We support policies that closely link the goals of economic development and workforce development and that result in an increased standard of living for all residents.

          We support an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth that more clearly defines responsibilities of state and local governments and includes new tools for local governments to use in attracting economic development opportunities.

          We support restored funding for the Regional Competitiveness Act to continue meaningful opportunities for regional projects. We also support restored state funding for the Industrial Site Development Fund, the Governorís Opportunity Fund and tourism initiatives that help promote economic development in localities and regions.

          The state should recognize the disparity in rewards of economic development between the state and localities, as well as between host locality and surrounding areas.

 

Text Box: ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

 

 

 

 

The Planning Districtís member localities believe that environmental quality should be funded and promoted through a comprehensive approach and address air and water quality, solid waste management, land conservation and land use policies. We are committed to the protection and enhancement of the environment and recognize the need to achieve a proper balance between environmental regulation and the socio-economic health of our communities within the constraints of available revenues. Such an approach requires regional cooperation due to the interjurisdicational nature of many environmental resources and adequate state funding to support local and regional efforts.

We believe the following:

          The state should not impose a fee, tax or surcharge on water, sewer, solid waste or other local services to pay for state environmental programs. To do so would set a disturbing precedent whereby the state could levy surcharges on local user fees to fund state priorities.

          The state should be a partner and advocate for localities in water supply development, and should work with and assist localities in addressing water supply issues, including investing in regional projects. The stateís water supply planning efforts should continue to involve local governments.

          The state should reduce permit application fees associated with storm water management and stream mitigation projects, as recent fee increases have adversely impacted local abilities to adopt regional storm water management programs and to undertake projects needed for stream protection. Fees should be used only to cover costs of administering the program.

          The state should 1) ensure landfill closure schedules permit facilities posing no threat to property or the public to continue to operate through their allowable life, and 2) provide adequate funding for landfill closure and post-closure costs.

          The state should not enact legislation mandating expansion of the area covered by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. Instead, the state should provide legal, financial and technical support to localities that wish to comply with any of the Actís provisions, provide funding for strategies that address point and non-point pollution  and allow localities to use other practices to improve water quality.

          We support state action to clarify that a locality has full authority to regulate the land application of sewage sludge.

 

Text Box: HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

 

 

 

The Planning Districtís member localities recognize that special attention must be given to developing circumstances under which people, especially the disabled, the poor, the young and the elderly, can achieve their full potential. Reductions to community agencies are especially troublesome, as their activities often end up preventing more costly services later. The delivery of health and human services must be a collaborative effort from federal, state and local agencies. We urge the General Assembly to ensure funding is available to continue such valuable preventive services.

          We oppose any changes in state funding or policies that result in an increase of the local share of costs for human services, including changes that would require additional local contributions for indigent care.

          There should be no further reductions to the Virginia Juvenile Community Crime Control Act (VJCCCA) program, which has produced a statewide 25% drop in Department of Juvenile Justice commitments since 1998.  Further, the state should maintain a formula-driven allocation process for VJCCCA funding.

          The state should fund local Offices on Youth and provide sufficient funding to allow Community Services Boards to meet the challenges of providing a community-based system of care, including maximizing the use of Medicaid funding. We also support state action to increase investment in the MR waiver program for adults and young people.

          We oppose new state or federal entitlement programs that require additional local funding.

          We support sufficient state funding for local social services facilities and for local departments to maintain adequate office space to deliver services. Local DSS offices should not be forced to consolidate if not in the best interest of the localities.

          We support continued state funding for local Disability Services Boards.

          We support the continued operation and enhancement of early intervention and prevention programs, including school-based prevention programs which can make a difference in childrenís lives. This would include the stateís program for at-risk four-year-olds, the Child Health Partnership and Healthy Families programs. The state should not use Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) monies to fund such programs, as localities cannot use federal TANF funds as match for other federally funded prevention programs. To do so only serves to shift costs to localities seeking to leverage federal dollars for services and administration. The state also should take appropriate action to address a projected shortfall in TANF reserves.

          We support Virginiaís welfare reform program and encourage efforts to promote family preservation and work requirements. We support initiatives and funding to help former VIEW participants maintain continuity in childcare and oppose any initiatives to shift traditional federal and state childcare administrative responsibility and costs to local governments. We support state efforts to expand access to education and training needed by welfare recipients to become employed and self-supporting. We believe the current funding and program responsibility for TANF employment services should remain within the social services realm. We also support a TANF plan that takes into account and fully funds state and local implementation and support services costs. The state should take advantage of TANF reauthorization to streamline eligibility requirements and provide maximum flexibility to localities.

Text Box: HOUSING

 

 

 

 

The Planning Districtís member localities believe that every citizen should have an opportunity to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing. The state and local governments should work toward expanding and preserving the supply and improving the quality of affordable housing for the elderly, the disabled and low- and moderate-income households. Regional housing solutions and planning should be implemented whenever possible.

          We support changes to the Code to allow local flexibility in the operation of affordable housing programs and establishment of affordable dwelling unit ordinances.

          We support incentives that encourage rehabilitation and preservation of historic structures.

          In addressing the lack of input that local governments have concerning housing issues, we support local government notice provisions for all proposed low and moderate-income housing projects seeking federal tax credits, including VHDA.

          We support VHDA criteria for funding which encourages rehabilitation of existing housing and discourages new construction in close proximity to existing subsidized housing.

          We support retaining local discretion to regulate the allowance of manufactured homes in zoning districts that permit single-family dwellings.

 

 

Text Box: LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE AND LAWS

 

 

 

 

The Planning Districtís member localities believe that since so many governmental actions take place at the local level, a strong local government system is essential. Local governments must have the freedom and tools to carry out their responsibilities.

          We support legislation to enhance the ability of local governments to provide services required by citizens and to allow local governments to meet their responsibilities in state/local partnerships. Accordingly, we support a requirement for state agencies to notify localities of planned construction projects that may affect the localityís comprehensive plan.

          We oppose intrusive legislation involving purchasing procedures; local government authority to establish hours of work, salaries and working conditions for local employees; matters that can be adopted by resolution or ordinance; and procedures for adopting ordinances. We do, however, encourage the state to authorize localities to utilize an administrative hearing officer in lieu of the three-member panel in all grievance cases, similar to the method established for state employees.

          We request that any changes to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) preserve a local governing bodyís ability to meet in closed session, as well as the list of records currently exempt from disclosure under FOIA and provisions concerning creation of customized computer records.

          We encourage the state to work with local governments to clarify language adopted in 2003 that transfers tax exemption authority to local governments.

          We support local requests to the state for enabling legislation to increase the income and financial worth limitations for real property tax exemption or deferral programs.

          We encourage clarification of Code provisions that stipulate law enforcement responsibilities when transporting persons for whom a temporary detention order has been issued for emergency medical treatment or evaluation.

          We support creation of a new Secretariat of Agriculture to assist in achieving prosperous and innovative agriculture as a key ingredient to rural economic health.

          The state should amend the Code to require litigants in civil cases to pay for the costs associated with compensating jury members.

          We support state funding for regional planning districts.

          The state must ensure that the continued implementation of electric utility restructuring is revenue neutral to localities and that any necessary stopgap appropriations to adversely affected localities are fully funded.

          We support legislation to increase permissible fees for courthouse maintenance.

          The state should ensure that local connectivity and compatibility are considered in any centralizing of state computer functions.

          We request that the state grant all counties the same authorization as cities have to regulate panhandlers.

          We support state funding for a full-time Commonwealthís Attorney in Greene County.

 

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