County joins City in endorsing resolution seeking permission to form new transit authority
On November 5, 2008, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed a resolution calling for enabling authority from the Virginia General Assembly to create a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in cooperation with the City of Charlottesville. The resolution was presented to the Board for consideration by David Blount, Legislative Liaison with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. A similar resolution was approved by City Council earlier this week. As a result of this action, legislation allowing for the creation of a Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Transit Authority is expected to be submitted for the 2009 General Assembly session by local legislators.
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A separate resolution, which would seek legislative approval for new local taxing powers to fund transit and transportation, has not yet been considered by City Council or the Board of Supervisors. A work group of elected officials is continuing to meet with area stakeholders to reach consensus on what funding tools should be included in that second proposal. Some local officials have stated that an RTA should not be created to replace the Charlottesville Transit System (CTS) without new sources of revenue being identified.
While road construction and maintenance has traditionally been funded at the state and federal level, area officials have said repeatedly that the state is not fulfilling its responsibility to adequately fund the area's transportation needs. The City and County rely heavily on real estate property taxes to fund local budgets, but in the absence of state funding, they would prefer to fund major transportation projects with alternative sources of revenue. A local gas tax or sales tax, however, would require authorization from the General Assembly. The next step in the effort to create the RTA will be to focus on identifying specific funding sources and potential voter referendum requirements.
The RTA work group will report to City Council and the Board of Supervisors before the end of the year with their recommendations. Their next meeting is scheduled for November 21, 2008.
The text of the resolution approved on November 5, 2008 is as follows:
WHEREAS, transportation planning and systems are regional in scope; and
WHEREAS, transportation planning includes both transit planning and transit operations; and
WHEREAS, limited transit facilities currently serve the overall Charlottesville-Albemarle area; and
WHEREAS, the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle intend to continue to serve existing ridership; and
WHEREAS, the City and County are interested in extended transit service to developing areas and providing faster, more frequent service to the existing system; and
WHEREAS, a Regional Transit Authority would coordinate regional transit planning and operations; and
WHEREAS, a Regional Transit Authority does not currently exist in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area; and
WHEREAS, enabling legislation is necessary to create a Regional Transit Authority.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the County of Albemarle requests that enabling authority for a Regional Transit Authority to serve the Charlottesville-Albemarle area be adopted.
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