In their final item of the year, Council agreed to cancel a project to build a sidewalk on Franklin Street using federal funds that come through the Community Development Block Grant process. The project had been selected by a task force but was defunded earlier this year because it could not be completed by a federal deadline.
Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders recommended Council consider moving away from the task force model.
“Routinely, a task force model doesn’t necessarily help to meet the regulatory conditions because typically what you’re doing is simply allowing community members to pick projects and they don’t necessarily always know the details that go into executing,” Sanders said.
A firm hired to conduct an audit of the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund presented preliminary results to City Council at their final meeting of the year in the early morning of December 21.
HR&A had already completed an affordable housing plan as part of the Cville Plans Together initiative but Council paid an additional $165,000 to the firm for that audit, as well as creation of a program to ensure that the upcoming rewrite of the zoning code is inclusionary. The adopted plan called for the city to spend $10 million on housing for at least ten years.
The Charlottesville City Planning Commission has made its recommendations for how to amend the draft capital budget for the next five years. That came at the end of a public hearing Tuesday that featured a discussion with City Council. Elected officials will make the final decision next spring as they adopt a budget that will be prepared under the supervision of a yet-to-be-named interim city manager. (draft FY23-FY27 CIP presentation to Planning Commission) (adopted FY22 budget)
The Commission got a look at the information at a work session on November 23, and heard it a second time from Senior Budget Analyst Krissy Hammill in advance of the public hearing. To recap, the capital budget is close to capacity due to the increase of spending in recent years, including a $75 million placeholder for the reconfiguration of middle schools. Council has also authorized a reorientation of priorities to find more money for the schools project. (previous story)
At a work session on December 6, 2021, Charlottesville City Council learned how the city fared as the books for fiscal year 2021 closed. Readers and listeners may recall there had been a concern the city would have a shortfall. Chris Cullinan is the city’s director of finance.
“I’m pleased to report that we finished fiscal year 2021 in the general fund at surplus revenues of $5.5 million,” Cullinan said.
The Charlottesville Planning Commission got a look last week at a preliminary budget for the capital improvement program for the fiscal years 2023 through 2027. Council will vote next spring to approve the first year of spending, but decisions for future years would be for future versions of Council. (November 23 presentation) (watch the meeting)
But first, what is a capital improvement program? Krissy Hammill is a Senior Budget and Management Analyst for the City of Charlottesville.
“It’s basically a five-year financing plan that contains infrastructure type projects that usually cost more than $50,000,” Hammill said. “They’re generally non-recurring and non-operational and they generally have a useful life of five years or more.”
President Joe Biden has signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will likely change the landscape for the way all kinds of projects in Virginia and the Charlottesville area are funded.
“This law makes the most significant investment in roads and bridges in the past 70 years,” Biden said. “It makes the most significant investment in passenger rail in the past 50 years. And in public transit ever.”
A rezoning of 12 wooded acres in Charlottesville’s Fry’s Spring neighborhood moved one step closer to approval last night. The seven-member Planning Commission recommended approval of a project that goes by the name 240 Stribling that would see 170 units.
On September 14, the developer asked for a deferral of a decision following a public hearing. City Planner Matt Alfele has this recap.
“During the public hearing, the Planning Commission heard from 16 members of the public,” Alfele said. “Most speakers raised concern about the safety of Stribling Avenue and how additional dwelling units on the subject property would be detrimental to public safety.”
Representatives of the nonprofit group Cultivate Charlottesville appeared before City Council on November to present the results of the city’s Food Equity Initiative. Cultivate Charlottesville has been the recipient of city funding for the past three years and seek additional money for years to come. They also want two percent of the meals tax to go a new Food Equity Fund.
“We believe that food is a human right and we operate from that perspective that everyone, all Charlottesville residents, deserve access to fresh produce and high quality food,” said co-executive director Richard Morris.
Charlottesville has issued a routine request for proposals for a firm to provide advice with financial services related to the city’s capital improvement program as well as the issuance and administration of debt. The city’s request details the city’s existing $207 million in outstanding debt which includes a total of $17.8 million in debt service for the current fiscal year. (read the RFP)
Charlottesville sells municipal bonds each spring for the CIP as well as four utilities that are all separate accounts. This year the city issued $20.8 million in bonds, $8.22 million of which is for new debt. The city has held a AAA bond rating from Standards and Poor’s since 1964 and a AAA bond rating from Moody’s since 1973.