City Council will hold a work session with the Planning Commission this afternoon but before the joint session on transportation matters gets underway, there will be a second reading of an appropriation of $1.5 million in city funds to be used as grants to low- and middle-income property owners.
This would replace the long-running program Charlottesville Housing Affordability Program (CHAP) that the city had been using to provide tax relief. Todd Divers is Charlottesville’s Commissioner of Revenue.
“We’ve kind of scrambled to put together a program that I think is going to get us close to what we were doing,” Divers said.
City Council has approved an action plan for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the next fiscal year. Staff had suggested making some changes to the process in order to meet HUD’s guidelines, but some groups pushed back on some of those proposals. (read the staff report)
“Staff will no longer request that the task force be changed to staff advisory,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders. “Instead we’re going to focus on identifying income eligible participants to ensure that the diverse voice is always available.”
The City of Charlottesville could be pulling in more revenue from tenants who may be leasing city property at rates well below the market rate. That’s one of the takeaways from a report given to Council at their meeting on May 16.
As the City of Charlottesville government seeks to rebuild after a recent era of frequent leadership transitions, the current management is looking at aspects of the city administration that have gone unnoticed or unchecked.
Until now, there has not been one central source in city government that controls all of the various leases the city has for its properties as well as service agreements. That makes it hard to track who is responsible or where the public can get information.
“So what we’re trying to do at this moment is compile that but one of the first things we had to do was identify an individual who would have that as their job,” said Sam Sanders, the Deputy City Manager for operations.
It’s been nearly a month since the City of Charlottesville announced it would resume the practice of shutting down service for unpaid utility bills. There was a statewide moratorium on such disconnects that expired last September. In all, the city used $557,000 in various federal assistance programs to help some customers.
However, they announced in April disconnects would resume.
“To date, six accounts have been disconnected and remain out of service,” said Chris Cullinan, the city’s finance director, in an email to Charlottesville Community Engagement.
Charlottesville City Council has voted to rezone nearly 12 acres of land in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood in order for Southern Development to build 170 units. They also voted for the first time on a proposal that would tie a specific infrastructure project to increased revenues that will be generated by higher property taxes.
“This is going to allow us to get infrastructure that we need in that part of the city that we would not have otherwise done,” said Councilor Brian Pinkston.
The current Charlottesville City Council had the chance this month to check in with the redevelopment of Friendship Court. The Piedmont Housing Alliance came before Council on April 18 with a request to amend an agreement that governs a $6 million forgivable loan granted in November 2020 for the first phase.
The amendment is a technical one because the full amount had not been allocated by Council in a subsequent budget cycle.
Brenda Kelley is the redevelopment manager for the city of Charlottesville, a position currently housed in the Office of Community Solutions.
“This request is not asking for additional funding,” Kelley said. “This funding is already approved in this current budget.”
Even though Council has recently adopted a budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, there is never a time when the city’s finances are not in the public eye. Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers briefed Council this week on the state of revenue collection for the current fiscal year that ends on June 30.
“So far this year we have currently collected 66.93 percent of our budgeted revenue and we remain on track to collect more than the adopted revenue budget of $192,212,843,” Rogers said.
In a brief meeting last night, Charlottesville City Council adopted a nearly $212.9 million budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. However, a penny increase in the real estate tax rate goes into effect for the calendar year, which will be included in the tax bills that will soon be sent to property owners. That’s the first increase in the tax rate several decades.
“It’s been a long budget season,” said interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. “We’ve listened as staff to your various proposals and desires to address issues in our community.”
The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has awarded $1.8 million in funds to regional housing nonprofits and entities. The funding comes from a $2 million grant to the TJPDC from the entity formerly known as the Virginia Housing Development Authority for the purpose of constructing or preserving affordable housing.
“By virtue of us receiving $2 million, we are obligated to construct at least 20 new affordable housing units,” said Ian Baxter, a planner with the TJPDC.
When Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders joined Charlottesville’s management team last July, he more or less filled a vacancy for a lower position that had been open for a year.
“I became your housing coordinator right away, because we didn’t have one,” Sanders said at an April 4 work session on the city’s affordable housing policy. “I have been spending a lot of time observing, reviewing, questioning, complaining, evaluating, and testing all of what we do, how we do it, why we do it, and trying to figure out what else we can do to make it all run more smoothly and definitely be run better.”