The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is made up of five counties and the City of Charlottesville. Like similar bodies across Virginia, the TJPDC’s mission is to help those localities with both planning and implementation.
For instance, the TJPDC is currently leading a 13-county effort to use federal funding to leverage private dollars to expand broadband internet across southern and central Virginia. Locally, the body now collects county-issued cigarette taxes.
The Board of Commissioners meets monthly and provides an opportunity to check-in with what’s happening around the region. All across Virginia, it is budget time and that includes Louisa County, where Rachel Jones represents the Green Springs District on the Board of Supervisors.
“Our [real estate property] assessments went through the roof and I think many of yours did, too,” Jones said. “It’s not just Louisa County. It hits hard for our residents. Last year we did make adjustments to our personal property tax and I think we will be probably be figuring out if there’s anything we can do to help with our assessments.”
Change is coming for one of the University of Virginia’s most public-facing institutions. The various entities that have been under the umbrella of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service will now be moving to the Karth Institute of Democracy, as reported by UVA Today.
This includes the Virginia Institute of Government, the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership, the Center for Survey Research, the Center for Economic and Policy Studies, and the Demographic Research Group. The latter provides the official population estimates and forecasts for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The announcement dates back to last July and the change takes place on July 1. The name Weldon Cooper will continue to be used in some capacity.
“The Weldon Cooper Center has a long history of supporting good governance across the Commonwealth, and we intend to keep the Center intact,” writes Alexandra Rebhorn, communications and engagement director for the center. “The Cooper Center has incorporated many different entities over the years, so we will continue to look at ways to flexibly enhance its service model in years to come.”
Both Albemarle County and Charlottesville police have announced the arrest of individuals alleged to be involved in recent gun violence.
This morning, Charlottesville Police announced the arrest yesterday of 19-year-old Raymaqu’a Antonio Nicholas of Charlottesville in the February 22 murder of 20-year-old Gordonsville resident Nicklous Pendleton. The suspect was taken into custody yesterday after an investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigations, The United States Attorney’s Office, and The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
Like most localities in Virginia, Charlottesville is seeking ways to retain its employees by increasing salaries. For instance, fellow Senate District 11 jurisdiction Amherst County is anticipating a seven percent cost of living adjustment.
Charlottesville had expected a study by the firm Gallagher on compensation to be completed by the end of 2022 but that was delayed to mid February. Now there’s a further delay.
“The compensation study is a complex piece of work that involves 237 job classifications that are being studied and 26 comparative communities that we are soliciting needed salary and benefit information from,” said interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers.
New City Councilor Leah Puryear attended her first meeting on February 28 when Council got together with the Planning Commission to review the draft of the first module of the new zoning code. My goal is to get a story out on that by March 13. At her first regular meeting, Puryear was assigned various committees.
“We’re going to appoint her to replace Councilor Magill on the legislative committee,” said Mayor Lloyd Snook. “Also on the Community Criminal Justice Board and one of the Virginia First Cities representatives.”
There has been a wave of shootings and homicides in the community in the past six months. At the beginning of the meeting, interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers addressed the issue.
“Chief [Michael] Kochis and the men and women of the Charlottesville Police Department are working tirelessly to address the recent spike in gun violence and to bring justice to those who have been affected,” Rogers said.
Yesterday’s Week Ahead newsletter was too long to feature anything from a very informative section of the agenda for tonight’s City Council. Here are some highlights from the city government in Charlottesville from the March 6 report from interim city manager Michael C. Rogers. (read the report)
- For some reason, the top item is an announcement of nonstop flights from Charlottesville to Orlando from the Charlottesville Regional Airport beginning on May 3. Direct flights to Philadelphia on Americans Airlines begin on April 4.
- The city has hired a Labor Relations Administrator to serve as the negotiator in the forthcoming collective bargaining between employees and management. Sarah Miller Espinoza has also performed similar duties in Fairfax County and the city of Alexandria. The city has hired Jimmy Morani to represent management. Espinoza will lay out the rules for the petition and election process in 21 days. Councilors are to be trained by someone from the firm Venable today.
- Mark your calendars for a strategic planning retreat for City Council on May 5 and May 6. The North Carolina-based firm Raftelis was hired in January to work on the document which has been delayed a few years.
- There’s one more week to submit a poster for a contest honoring the 50th anniversary of the City Market. Learn more about that in my story from February 15, 2023. The market season will begin on April 1.
- The window is open for elderly and disabled community members to apply for relief from real property taxes and will close on May 1. See the image below for criteria or visit the Commissioner of Revenue’s section of the city’s website.
- A request for proposals is expected to go out this month for a firm to assist Charlottesville Area Transit in providing microtransit service in Albemarle with service anticipated for the summer. Learn more about the program from this article I wrote on February 14, 2023.
- Fifteen percent of city staff failed an email phishing campaign in February, the same rate as the previous training exercise.
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has endorsed a plan to convert a roadway along the Rivanna River into a car-free zone called for in the Pantops Master Plan.
“Free Bridge Lane is a low-volume, unstriped local street that extends for approximately for half a mile from Darden-Towe Park at the northern end to U.S. 250 at the Southern end,” said Jessica Hersh-Ballering, a transportation planner with Albemarle County.
The former vice chair of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 will soon have a local connection. The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia has hired former Representative Liz Cheney to serve as a Professor of Practice for a one-year appointment.
“I am delighted to be joining the UVA Center for Politics as a Professor of Practice,” Cheney said in a statement. “Preserving our constitutional republic is the most important work of our time, and our nation’s young people will play a crucial role in this effort.”
Charlottesville City Council has selected a former member of the Charlottesville School Board to fill out the unexpired term of former Councilor Sena Magill. The election by the four remaining Councilors took place at the beginning of their meeting last night.
“Is there a motion for the appointment?” asked Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook.
“Yes, Mr. Mayor,” answered Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade. “I move that the City Council appoint Leah Puryear for the uncompleted for Sena Magill.”
The vote was unanimous and Puryear was sworn in immediately but will not actually begin her term until February 27 when the human resources paperwork is complete.