There are many governmental connections between the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, which are two totally separate entities under Virginia law. One is a revenue-sharing agreement adopted in 1982 that has led to Albemarle contributing a share of its property tax revenue with Charlottesville in order to stave off annexation. There’s also a shared water and sewer authority, a jail authority, and other regional bodies.
Last week, top officials from both communities got together to get to know each other after extensive turnover in city leadership.
“The two deputy city managers with Jeff Richardson, county executive, and his deputies, at a half-day retreat last Friday,” said Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. “We share a lot and we have a lot of common issues and problems that we’re working on.”
On this day 100 years ago, a three-person Charlottesville City Council sat for the first time in a new term and soon afterward appointed Boyd A. Bennett to serve as the first city manager. Bennett had been the public works director in Lynchburg, according to an account in the Alexandria Gazette at the time.
Since that time, just under a dozen people have held the position, which serves as the chief executive officer of the city government under the supervision of the elected Council. Bennett only lasted two years but his successors all had longer terms including that of James Bowen, who served from 1948 to 1970, followed by Cole Hendrix who would hold the job for nearly 25 years.
Officials with Tiger Fuel attempted yesterday to overturn a decision by the city’s zoning administrator that affects the future layout of a proposed Wawa on Fifth Street Extended. This one gets a little technical.
“The applicant contends that the prescribed front setback for gas stations in Section 34-931(h) of the zoning ordinance are more lenient than the front setbacks for structures in the Highway Zoning district,” said Genevieve Keller, the chair of the Board of Zoning Appeals.
One innovation to come with the tenure of interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers is a written report that is produced once a month to address items that come up at City Council. He also read from the report at the beginning of last night’s meeting and provided an update on the city’s current pause on issuing new building permits. No new inspections or permits will take place through June 13. (read the report)
“We have made multiple offers for a new building official and have to restart the process again with the most recent candidate changing their mind about relocating here at the last minute after we thought they accepted the position,” Rogers said. “We had previously contracted with a firm to help us with the inspections to offset our shortage. The two employees signed by that firm also left us recently so we are scrambling to catch up.”
The city of Charlottesville has planned and built most of the transportation infrastructure projects within city limits since 2005. Soon after Deputy City Manager for Operations Sam Sanders took on the role last summer, he noticed there were some performance issues that require a total reboot of the way the city undertakes this work.
“Some initial assessments when I first arrived here was that the development review process within [the Department of Neighborhood Development Services] needed some attention,” Sanders said. “And in doing that work since I’ve been here I’ve discovered it was more than just that. It was also looking closely as the Public Works / Engineering side of the house.”
Staff shortages are causing the city of Charlottesville’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services to put a pause on building and trade inspections between May 31 and June 13.
“The department acknowledges the inconvenience this may cause and appreciates everyone’s patience and cooperation during this time,” reads a press release that went out Friday afternoon.
Nearly ten months since former Charlottesville police chief RaShall Brackney was fired by former City Manager Chip Boyles, the city is seeking a permanent replacement. On Friday, the city issued a request for proposals for a firm to conduct an executive search.
“The City is seeking a consultant to assist the City Manager through the process of hiring a new Chief of Police who embodies the principles of 21st Century Policing and has an anti-racist focus,” reads the request for proposals.
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.
The City of Charlottesville has promoted two employees to take over their departments, and has also filled the position of Human Resources Director.
Mary Ann Hardie will move to Charlottesville from Washington state to take the human resources position, which has been vacant since November 2020 when Michelle Vineyard left after just over a year of service. Hardie has served for the past three years as human resources director in Lacey, Washington. That’s a suburb of state capital Olympia that grew from 42,393 people to 53,526 from 2010 to 2020 according to the U.S. Census.
Hardie starts work on May 16.
At least one in ten American adults will suffer a depressive illness every year, according to information from the National Institute of Mental Health. That information was cited at City Council’s May 2, 2022 work session.
Officials with the Emergency Communications Center for Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia briefed the Council on efforts to ensure that people experiencing mental health crises are not met with deadly force by public safety officers. (view the presentation)
“We do receive around a quarter of a million calls per year here in the Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle Emergency Communication Center,” said Josh Powell, the support services manager for the ECC.