2006 Legislative Priorities Report
This report summarizes action taken regarding Albemarle’s 2006 Legislative Priorities. This report will often cite information from the final legislative reports of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), Virginia Municipal League (VML), and Virginia Association of Counties (VACo). For these organizations’ complete reports that provide a thorough overview of local government impacts beyond Albemarle’s priorities, please use the links below. Please note: As of June 16, 2006, the General Assembly has not adopted a budget for the FY2007-2008 biennium. Upon the adoption of a state budget, the information contained in this report and the below links may change.
Land Use and Growth Management Priorities
Priority: Growth Management
Description: Request legislation to provide high-growth jurisdictions with growth management tools such as adequate public facilities ordinances, impact fees and transfer of development rights (TDR’s). Continue to provide statewide funding (ex. Virginia Land Conservation Foundation) for open space and natural resources, such as Purchase of Development Rights programs in localities that establish and locally fund such a program (ex. ACE Program in Albemarle County). Request the legislature oppose any preemption or circumvention of existing local authority to regulate land use.
Summary: While information cannot be provided on Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) funding due to the lack of an adopted budget, numerous bills were introduced related to local land use regulations and authority. Highlights of approved bills include:
SB 373, which authorizes localities to adopt a transfer of development rights ordinance, designating sending areas where the development rights may be taken and receiving areas where the development rights may be sent. The changes in density on the both parcels are permanent.
HB 1435, which places a hold on additional local regulation of wineries for one year while the Secretary of Agriculture facilitates discussions by local governments, wineries and other interested parties to examine farm wineries’ economic viability and relationship to local communities.
HB 1513 and SB 699, which link state transportation and local land use planning by requiring comprehensive plans, rezonings and subdivision plats to be submitted to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for review and comment on transportation impacts. Localities still would make decisions on such applications as they do now. VDOT will develop regulations for when such a traffic impact analysis will be required (Source: TJPDC).
Proposal: Staff recommends this remain a County priority. For the 2007 priorities, the reference to VLCF funding will be combined with the below “Transient Occupancy Tax” priority to create a more comprehensive statement for conservation easements.
Priority: Transient Occupancy Tax
Description: Retain the flexibility currently available in transient occupancy tax legislation so that these funds can continue to be used to support the protection of valuable open-space and resources of historical, cultural, ecological and scenic value that attract tourism.
Summary: Albemarle’s ability to utilize the transient occupancy tax to support the Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) program was not affected by the 2006 General Assembly.
Proposal: Staff recommends this remain a County priority and has included it in the proposed 2007 priorities. Due to its relation to the Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) Program, staff will expand this priority to include the VLCF funding mentioned in the “Growth Management” priority.
Priority: Scenic Protection and Tourist Enhancement
Description: Request enabling legislation to provide for a scenic protection and tourist enhancement overlay district. As the County pursues options to protect the visual quality of land as an aesthetic and economic resource, this legislation would provide localities with a method to ensure full consideration of visual resources and scenic areas when the County or State makes land use decisions in designated areas.
Summary: No bill was introduced to grant the County such enabling authority.
Proposal: Staff recommends this remain a County priority and has included it in the proposed 2007 priorities. This priority will be reworded to request a pilot program in Albemarle County, not enabling authority for all localities.
Priority: Transportation Funding
Description: Request the state increase funding for transportation so that the present and future transportation needs of the state can be achieved.
Summary: This priority cannot be fully assed without an approved state budget. While it appears additional funding will be provided for transportation needs, it remains to be seen whether such funds will be predominantly one-time or recurring and what new revenue tools, if any, may be available for localities.
Proposal: Staff recommends this remain a County priority and has included it in the proposed 2007 priorities. This priority will be reworded to reflect better the language in the Board-approved TJPDC program.
Priority: Passenger Rail Service
Description: The County continues its support for and endorses the provision of passenger rail service from Bristol, VA to the Richmond, VA and Washington, DC areas with links to communities along the way.
Summary: Again, the state has not enacted a budget for the upcoming biennium, which could influence this priority. In 2005, the legislature directed the Department of Rail and Public Transportation to work towards developing a Trans Dominion passenger rail pilot service from Bristol to Richmond (Source: VML).
Proposal: This priority will be incorporated into the previous “Transportation Funding” priority and reworded to reflect better the language in the Board-approved TJPDC program.
Health and Human Services Priorities
Priority: Comprehensive Services Act (CSA)
Description: Request the state fully fund CSA mandates including obligations for administrative overhead and children, both of which have been shifted to localities in recent years.
Summary: Budget amendments were introduced to increase state funding for the local administrative costs of CSA during the legislature’s regular session, though the amendments were not incorporated into either chamber's budget proposals. It is worth noting that HJ 60 and SJ 96 both call for a comprehensive examination of CSA, including an examination of costs (Source: VACo).
Proposal: Mandated CSA funding has been an ongoing problem for localities. Staff recommends this remain a County priority.
Priority: Local Eligibility and Federal Families and Children's Review Requirements Funding
Description: Request the state provide state general funds for appropriate staffing of local departments of social services to determine eligibility for Virginia residences seeking social services, such as, Medicaid, Food Stamps, TANF certain foster children under title IV-E, State local hospital medical program, Auxiliary Grant, General Relief, in a timely manner. Also request the state provide additional general funds to meet the requirements of the Federal Family and Children's Review Requirements.
Summary: Due to the lack of an approved budget, this priority cannot be assessed.
Proposal: Staff recommends the Board maintain their support for this position, but has not included it in the 2007 priorities due its relative priority to other human services issues. This issue is addressed broadly in the County’s request for appropriate state funding of its programs, which include the aforementioned issues.
Priority: Reauthorization of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program
Description: Request the state take advantage of the federal reauthorization of TANF by streamlining eligibility requirements and providing maximum flexibility to localities so that counties can implement the TANF program that best meets local needs.
Summary: Due to the lack of an approved budget, this priority cannot be assessed. In the past, the budget authorized the state to provide additional funding for the TANF child support supplement if such funding became available (Source: VML).
Proposal: Staff recommends this remain a County priority and has included it in the proposed 2007 priorities.
Priority: Domestic Violence
Description: Request legislation that will prevent convicted domestic abusers from being allowed to possess a gun. Virginia law should be consistent with Federal law.
Summary: No bill was introduced to codify this Federal law into the Virginia Code.
Proposal: This issue has proved difficult to introduce in the legislature. Therefore, staff does not recommend this be included in the 2007 priorities. Staff does recommend the Board continue its support for this position.
Public Safety Priorities
Priority: Quality E-911 Systems and Service Delivery
Description: Request the state support local governments in the delivery of emergency services by ensuring that telecommunication systems (including Private Branch Exchanges and Multi Line Telephone Systems) provide optimal information to adequately address emergency situations.
Summary: HB 1603 was introduced to address this priority but was continued to 2007 by its committee.
Proposal: Staff expects this issue will return in 2007 and recommends it be included in the 2007 priorities.
Local Government Administration/Laws Priorities
Priority: Full Funding of State Mandates
Description: Request the state provide full funding for its mandates in all areas of local government. These mandates have been shifted to localities in recent years.
Summary: Due to the lack of an adopted budget, this priority cannot be fully assessed. However, due to the state’s past actions and historical trends, it is unlikely existing unfunded mandates will be funded by the state.
Proposal: Staff recommends this issue be included in the 2007 priorities.
Priority: Local Control of Real Property Taxation
Description: Request the legislature take no action to restrict or limit the local control of real property taxation.
Summary: Several bills were introduced to limit local control of real property taxation through a variety of mechanisms, although none were ultimately approved by the legislature.
Proposal: Staff recommends this issue be included in the 2007 priorities.
Priority: E-911 and Telecommunications Taxation
Description: Support the administrative streamlining of telecommunication taxation so long as local dollars remain in or are fairly redistributed to localities.
Summary: The General Assembly approved, HB 568, which revises the taxation of communications services as follows: 1) local consumer utility taxes, 2) business license taxes on telecommunications companies (over .5 percent of gross receipts), cable franchise fees and local E-911 fees are replaced with 1) a statewide 75 cents/month E-911 fee and 2) a 5% sales and use tax on all voice, video and audio communications. The new taxes and fees will be collected by the companies and paid monthly to the State, where they will be held in a separate trust fund and distributed monthly to localities, without going through the state appropriation process. Each locality’s distribution percentage will be the same as its percentage of the FY 2006 state total of the taxes and fees being eliminated. The Auditor of Public Accounts will compile figures on which the distribution will be based from the FY 2006 annual reports submitted by local auditors. This measure takes effect January 1, 2007 (Source: TJPDC).
Proposal: While telecommunications taxation has been streamlined, some uncertainty exists as to how equitable distributions to localities will be in the long-term. Staff will monitor this issue in the coming years, but recommends not including it in the 2007 priorities.
Priority: Amend Va. Code section 15.2-1507 pertaining to the composition of panel hearings
Description: Request an amendment to authorize localities to utilize an administrative hearing officer in lieu of the 3-member panel in all cases, similar to the method established for state employee grievances in Va. Code Section 2.2-3005. This should help ensure consistency in applying policies.
Summary: Del. David Toscano, working with County staff, introduced HB 999. This bill was approved, granting Albemarle County the authority it sought with this priority.
Proposal: Because this priority was introduced and approved, it will not be included in the 2007 priorities.
Priority: Virginia Retirement System (VRS)
Description: Request the state undertake long term planning in establishing VRS rates so that localities are not burdened with significant year-to-year rate changes.
Summary: Del. David Toscano, working with County staff, introduced HB 333. This bill received no action and was left in committee.
Proposal: This issue is not recommended to be included in the 2007 priorities. HB 333, even if enacted, lacks an enforcement mechanism in implementation to ensure that rates will not greatly fluctuate year-to-year.
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