Council agrees to adopt guidelines for procurement

In the near future, Charlottesville could very well finalize plans to renovate Buford Middle School to accommodate sixth grade students, a first step toward a long-planned and long-awaited reconfiguration of the city’s schools. 

The School Board got an update on construction estimates in September, and the final number will factor heavily into the city’s budget discussions for the next fiscal year. (VMDO working against inflation as design for Buford expansion continues and estimates increase, September 2, 2022)

On Monday, Council approved guidelines for the use of funds that could be raised through something called the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act, which goes by the acronym PPEA. 

“Under the act, the General Assembly conferred upon local entities such as the city of Charlottesville a process by which major construction projects and improvements to real estate could be conducted through a competitive process that is more flexible and less prescriptive,” said City Attorney Lisa Robertson. 

A key reason to do this is to potentially bring down the cost through efficiencies and through a more flexible schedule. Robertson gave examples in the staff report.

  • The City of Harrisonburg has constructed school buildings and at least one public park.
  • The City of Fredericksburg is currently using the PPEA process for the design and construction of improvements to upgrade and expand a wastewater treatment plant. 
  • The Town of Christiansburg used PPEA procedures for a stream restoration and culvert replacement project. 
  • Spotsylvania used PPEA procedures for construction of a new circuit court building.

Robertson didn’t specify the Buford project could be constructed through a PPEA nor did the staff report list any specific examples. Charlottesville City Councilor Brian Pinkston could think of a few.

“One of the things we could do with this is work with local nonprofit partners on what I’ll call hybrid projects where we’re trying to accomplish something together and there would be private funds coming in through the nonprofit and we may be providing project management support or something like that on the city side,” Pinkston said. “This would give us flexibility in terms of how those procurements work.” 

Council approved the guidelines with one change making sure that the application fee for such a project would be $1,500. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the October 20, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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