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March 09, 2011

Red light camera revenues questioned during budget work session

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By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

20110307-BOS

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has begun its review process for the county’s proposed $301 million budget for fiscal year 2012.

During a work session Monday, Assistant County Executive Bryan Elliott reviewed the public safety, human development, community development and parks and recreation sections of the budget.

“Collectively these four functional areas represent about $60 million of the local government operating budget,” Elliot said.

The proposed police budget of $13.05 million has increased by 4.5% over last year. That amount will go to unfreeze two police officer positions at a cost of $154,000 and increased overtime by $125,000. However, three positions remain frozen.

The police budget also includes $72,000 in anticipated revenues from the county’s new photo-safe red-light cameras.

“We anticipate utilizing those revenues for specific traffic safety programs the police department would undertake in FY12,” Elliot said. “This could be anything from paying overtime, for specific enforcement… or purchasing some additional equipment.” He added that traffic enforcement makes up 26% of all police calls.

20110311-Duane-Snow
Supervisor Duane Snow

However, Supervisor Duane Snow questioned this assumption and said he wanted more specific ideas about how the money would be used. Supervisor Dennis Rooker said he would like the money to go towards unfreezing another police officer.

County executive Thomas C. Foley said staff did not want to put the money towards ongoing expenses because the goal of the program is ultimately to stop people from running red lights.

“The objective is actually to see this revenue decline over time,” Foley said. “There’s been some accusation that this is a big revenue generator for us, and it really isn’t.”

The county’s payment to Charlottesville to provide fire-rescue services in the Pantops area will increase by 10.6%.

“In ’09, we were paying roughly $655,000 and for FY12 we’re proposing $845,638,” Elliot said. However, he added some of that increase could have been due to last year’s microburst, which caused damage throughout the area.

Payment to the SPCA is increasing by 25.9% due to a contract signed in 2009 that requires the county to pay $5 per capita to operate an animal shelter on Berkmar Drive. The county’s contribution to the shelter for next year is $477,440.

Supervisor Ann Mallek asked for staff to take a look at the possibility of raising license fees for animals to help cover the cost.

The human development budget will receive a $19 million appropriation, a decrease of 1.1% from the current year.
 
One expense in that area is the para-transit service JAUNT, which will receive $922,025. The 6.4% increase is due to ridership increases, according to Elliott.

Mallek predicted that there would be a corresponding increase in Crozet residents requesting service if gas prices continue to increase. Supervisor Rodney Thomas asked what options there might be to increase fares to help cover the costs.     

“They have not modified the rate for the rural area for some time,” Elliott said. “That is an option if the board wanted.”

Supervisor Ken Boyd said he was concerned that JAUNT was growing into something it was not intended to be.

“JAUNT was originally set up to help disabled people and economically challenged people and its becoming a commuter service,” Boyd said. “You’re talking about Crozet people who can probably afford to drive a car and now they can ride JAUNT cheaper. That’s one of the fallacies of the whole program.”

However, Elliott said revenue from able-bodied commuters helps fund the program.

“The buses are going to run regardless of whether there are commuters there or not and if seats are available, they can be filled,” Elliott said.

The county is proposing a $6.2 million budget for parks, recreation and culture. Of that amount, 52% is spent on the Jefferson Madison Regional Library system, 35% goes to the parks department, 2% is spent on the county’s contribution to Darden Towe Park, and the rest goes to 12 outside agencies.

The library received a 1% increase from the previous year. However, the library is appealing to the board for an additional $31,000 to help cover the cost of one new employee to staff the Crozet Library.

“The reason we asked for that is that the new Crozet Library has been pushed back to 2015 or 2016,” said JMRL Board of Trustees President Anthony Townsend. “What we were asking for was one additional position to help with shelving and circulation.”

Supervisors did not make a decision on how to proceed at this work session, but will do so at a meeting next week after receiving more information on how volunteers are being utilized.

A work session on the school board’s budget was held Wednesday morning. Another session on the capital improvement program budget will be held next Monday.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST #1:

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110307-BOS-Budget-WorkSession

  • 01:00 - Introduction from County Executive Tom Foley
  • 08:00 - Lori Allshouse begins review of general fund by reviewing revenue projections
  • 24:00 - Discussion of revenue sharing payment and explanation of why it decreased
  • 31:00 - Discussion of changes to vehicle replacement fund
  • 38:45 - Bryan Elliot begins discussion of spending in four areas, beginning with public safety budget
  • 45:00 - Elliott describes victim of violent crime program
  • 48:00 - Snow asks about use of photo-safe revenues
  • 53:45 - Elliott reviews budget for Fire Department
  • 57:30 - Discussion of CARS funding
  • 1:00:30 - Discussion of county's contract with city for fire services
  • 1:03:30 - Fire Chief Dan Eggleston responds to question from Boyd regarding policies 1
  • 1:08:00 - Discussion of funding of public safety agencies  
  • 1:10:30 - Discussion of SPCA funding
  • 1:12:30 - Supervisor Ann Mallek raises possibility of raising fees to help lower payment to SPCA
  • 1:15:30 - Elliott describes performance of each public safety department 
  • 1:17:00 - Rooker asks how much traffic conditions affect fire response times
  • 1:19:30 - Rooker asks if smaller fire trucks could be used to response to some calls
  • 1:25:00 - Elliott begins review of human development budget
  • 1:28:30 - Social Services Director Kathy Ralston answers question about payment for child care services
  • 1:33:30 - Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier questions spending on refugee resettlement
  • 1:43:00 - Elliott describes increase in funding for Commission on Children and Families for rent for new facility
  • 1:44:40 - Elliott describes increase in funding for JAUNT
  • 1:51:45 - Elliot reviews the 22 agencies that receive funding from the human development section of the budget


TIMELINE FOR PODCAST #2:

 

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110307-BOS-Budget-WorkSession2

  • 01:00 - Elliott begins reviewing parks, recreation and culture
  • 04:45 - Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier raises question about cutting of an hourly supervisor for Scottsville youth basketball
  • 06:30 - Parks Director Bob Crickenberger answers Dorrier's question
  • 08:00 - Review of Darden Towe Park budget
  • 08:30 - Review of funding for outside agencies
  • 10:30 - Discussion of Crozet library begins
  • 22:15 - Discussion of funding of outside agencies
  • 25:00 - Dorrier requests more information about Scottsville youth basketball
  • 28:00 - Review of community development section of the budget
  • 33:30 - Review of outside agencies funded in community development section of the budget
  • 35:00 - Rooker asks for information on whether Charlottesville Area Transit anticipates increased cost in fuel
  • 38:00 - Elliott describes budget for Department of Community Development
  • 42:45 - Assistant County Executive Bill Letteri begins review of judicial section of the budget
  • 44:45 - Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford describes how savings have been made, appeals for more funding
  • 47:00 - Discussion of Clerk of Court's budget
  • 59:00 - Discussion of Biscuit Run State Park planning committee

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