Category Archives: General Government

City Council to vote on expansion of powers for Charlottesville Human Rights Commission

The Charlottesville Human Rights Commission meets tonight ten days after City Council held the first reading of a proposed change to the ordinance that would expand their ability to investigate discrimination claims. 

“It will just give us a little more teeth to investigate and make judgments against Fair Housing law violations in the city,” said City Councilor Michael Payne said. 

Charlottesville City Council voted 3-1 on May 20, 2013 to create the Human Rights Commission, with Mayor Satyendra Huja abstaining at the time. The Commission was an outcome of a city initiative called the Dialogue on Race.  Since then, the Human Rights Office has been through two directors and is currently led by Todd Niemeier.

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Charlottesville Council discusses gun violence; many governance details in written report

The Charlottesville City Council had a full meeting on Monday, and one I’m finally able to get to after taking a couple of days off from a deadline. We start the coverage with the consent agenda, which included an extension of the contract for the Robert Bobb Group for the services of Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. According to a staff report, that will give enough time for a new police chief to be hired as well as for Council to adopt a strategic plan. Then there’s also the matter of the budget. 

No one spoke during the opportunity to comment about the contract extension. 

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Albemarle Supervisors mark Veterans’ Day

Today is Veterans Day and nine days ago, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors passed a resolution honoring the occasion. Donna Price, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, read from a proclamation. 

“WHEREAS, the United States of America, founded on the principles of liberty and justice for all, has called on her men and women in uniform to protect our national security,” Price said.

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Charlottesville School Board to consider employee bonuses; TJPDC to meet

There were two oversights in this week’s Week Ahead newsletter. 

First, the Charlottesville School Board will meet at 5 p.m. in the Booker T. Reaves Media Center at Charlottesville High School at 1400 Melbourne Road. You can register to participate via Zoom or watch along on Facebook

Items on the agenda include an allocation from the state for a one-time bonus that comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Charlottesville gets $414,603.21 for the effort, and is kicking in funding of its own. 

“Charlottesville City Schools has 793.32 [full-time equivalent] instructional and support positions including custodial and nutrition workers,” reads the agenda item. “The total cost of the one-time bonus payment is $854,009.”

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Commonwealth Transportation Board briefed on why construction estimates are increasing

Charlottesville Community Engagement is a newsletter and podcast that tries to keep up with how much it costs to build things, a major factor in the provision of infrastructure. The Virginia Department of Transportation also keeps an eye on changing trends as part of an effort to deliver services more efficiently. This comes out of a 2020 study by the firm of Ernst and Young who took a lot at the methodology VDOT uses to estimate the cost of projects and the way it bids them. 

The Commonwealth Transportation Board got a briefing at their meeting on Tuesday, October 25.

“Ernst and Young made several recommendations to the Department and one of those recommendations was to constantly keep up with the economic items including inflation and commodities in our bidding process throughout the year, which is historically something VDOT has not done,” said Bart Thrasher, VDOT’s chief engineer.  

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Albemarle County Supervisors adopt new strategic plan goals

Longtime readers and listeners know by now that this newsletter and podcast seeks to give information about various plans, be they site, Comprehensive, Small Area, Biodiversity Action, strategic, or otherwise. Local governments in Albemarle and Charlottesville have hundreds of employees and in order to run an organization you need some kind of documents to coordinate what everyone’s doing.

Or in many cases, you don’t. 

In any case, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors made progress with two overarching plans at their meeting on October 19, 2022. The first was the Strategic Plan, which sets six overarching goals for what the county government hopes to achieve. These goals and their objectives can be reviewed on the county’s websiteHere’s the staff report for the October 19 work session

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City Manager Rogers predicts more difficult budget season for FY24

There are 168 days until Charlottesville City Council will vote on a budget for fiscal year 2024, which begins on July 1, 2023 Between now and then a lot of things will happen, including discussions of a capital improvement program, final direction on the expansions and renovations at Buford Middle School, and a fresh round of real property assessments for over 15,000 parcels in Charlottesville.

Soon after Council adopted the FY23 budget and the first real property tax rate increase in at least 30 years, the five members expressed a desire to get involved with the process earlier in the year. That’s why a budget work session was held on October 17. (work session materials)

“We paid attention to that in the schedule this year and this is the first effort for us to lay out for you what the budget process will be and to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that we will have in FY24,” said Michael C. Rogers, the interim city manager.   

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Albemarle Supervisors set legislative priorities for 2023 General Assembly

There are 79 days until the General Assembly convenes for the 2023 session for the second year with Glenn Youngkin in the Governor’s Mansion. Last week, Albemarle Supervisors finalized their list of legislative priorities that they hope to convince legislators to turn into a bill. (2023 Legislative Priorities) (2023 Legislative Positions and Policy Statements)

Supervisors last discussed the list in September and extensively discussed a request to expand the number of virtual meetings an appointed body can have. 

Another of the priorities is to request the ability for counties to decide for themselves if they want to hold a referendum on additional sales tax to generate revenue for school construction projects.

“There are currently nine counties and one city in the Commonwealth which enjoy this authority to levy an additional one-percent sales tax which is used exclusively to fund school division capital projects,” said county attorney Steven Rosenberg. 

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Council considers rent payment for Jefferson School Center for African American Heritage

The Jefferson School Center for African American Heritage has asked the city to help it cover the cost of the rent it pays to the Jefferson School Foundation. That’s the entity that owns the former elementary school. The Center leases just over 11,000 square feet at a cost of $15,134.76 per month. 

Staff has recommended Council donate seven months of rent to cover the Center from December 1 through the end of next June for a total of $107,203.32. 

“The reason for taking this action at this moment is to provide Council the space that it needs to conduct its strategic planning sessions to determine how it will engage in investments for moments like this to invest in arrangements with non-profit organizations,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders. 

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Deputy Chief named as Charlottesville’s Interim Fire Chief

A veteran firefighter with over thirty years experience but only five months in Charlottesville has been named as the interim chief of the city’s department.

Michael L. Thomas has been the Deputy Chief of Community Risk Reduction since June 2022 after retiring from the Lynchburg Fire Department. He will succeed Chief Hezedean Smith, who has left to become chief in Polk County, Florida. 

“Chief Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and an Associate Degree in Fire Science. He holds certifications as a Fire Inspector, Fire Investigator, Certified LEO, Incident Safety Officer, has attended the National Fire Academy, and is currently enrolled in ICMA’s (International City/County Management Association) Professional Development Academy,” reads a press release with the announcement. 

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