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August 16, 2011

Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association City Council Candidates Forum

20110810-Fry'sSpring-Forum
The twelve declared candidates participated in the Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association Forum on August 10, 2011

On August 10, 2011, the Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association held a candidates forum for the twelve men and women running for three seats on the Charlottesville City Council. Questions at the event were specifically directed to issues of importance to the neighborhood.

The candidates are Scott Bandy (I); Paul Beyer (D); Colette E. Blount (D); Brevy Cannon (D); Brandon Collins (I); Bob Fenwick (I); Kathleen M. Galvin (D); James Halfaday (D); Satyendra Huja (D); Paul Long (I); Dede Smith (D); and Andrew Williams (I). The forum was held at Cherry Avenue Christian Church and the moderator was Hardy Whitten, president of the Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association.

Download Download complete transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Listen using player above or download the podcast:

Download 20110810-Fry'sSpringForum

WATCH THE VIDEO:

Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association City Council Candidates Forum
from Charlottesville Tomorrow on Vimeo.

 

July 21, 2011

Audio & Video of Charlottesville City Council candidate forum

On July 20, 2011, Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress co-sponsored a city council candidate forum for the seven candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for three of the five seats on Charlottesville City Council.

About 150 people filled the Burley Middle School auditorium to hear the candidates respond to questions posed by the moderator, the audience, and each other.  Read this article for complete coverage by the Daily Progress.

20110720-Forum743x750
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110720-CityDemsForum

Download Download complete transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

The Charlottesville Democratic Party will hold an “unassembled caucus,” also known as a Firehouse Primary, on Saturday, August 20th, from 9am to 7pm at Burley Middle School to select its three council nominees.  One candidate for Clerk of the Charlottesville Circuit Court will also be nominated.

In the primary, Charlottesville Democrats may vote for up to 7 council candidates and rank them by order of preference.  This ranking is to facilitate an instant runoff in the event there is not a simple majority.

The candidate forum participants
  • Paul Beyer
  • Colette E. Blount
  • Brevy Cannon
  • Kathleen M. Galvin
  • James Halfaday
  • Satyendra Huja
  • Dede Smith
  • Brian Wheeler, Moderator

Charlottesville City Council Democratic
candidate forum
from Charlottesville Tomorrow on Vimeo.

 

Quick response topics

MEADOW CREEK PARKWAY
Do you support construction of the Meadow Creek Parkway in the city of Charlottesville, YES or NO?

WESTERN BYPASS
Do you support the Western Bypass route now in place if the state fully funds its construction as well as fully funding other local transportation priorities such as the Belmont Bridge replacement, Hillsdale Drive Extended, Berkmar Drive Extended, the widening of Route 29, and the improvement of the Best Buy ramp to the U.S. 250 Bypass? YES or NO?

WATER PLAN
As the primary approach for adding to our long term water supply, do you favor dredging and water conservation before construction of a new or taller dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, YES or NO?

Moderator questions (each candidate received 3 of the 7 questions)

Transportation
What is your transportation agenda for the city and how will you fund AND implement it? 

City-County relations
Much is made of the status of city-county relationships and the importance of maintaining and strengthening this relationship. On a grading scale of A to F, how would you grade this relationship, and how do you think it can be improved?

Performance measurements for local government
Do you think the city is doing a good job of measuring its performance on the implementation of its vision and council priorities? Would you favor any specific other approaches or methodology?

Water supply
Are you planning to seek a new vote by the council on the previously approved 50-year water supply plan and how would you change the plan, if at all?

Role of City Council
What are the top responsibilities that you believe City Council should be actively and consistently engaged in?

Education
Are you satisfied with the performance of the city schools? How would you support continuous improvement as a member of City Council?

Workforce development / Jobs
What do you see as the best opportunities to develop career-ladder jobs that city residents can pursue?

After the moderator questions, the candidates each answered one question from the audience.  Then each candidate had an opportunity to ask another candidate a question.

 

April 11, 2011

Council hears report on cooperative work with Albemarle

DailyProgressOne year after Del. David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, encouraged elected officials from the city and Albemarle County to improve relations, at least one is lamenting that not enough progress has been made.

“I think we had an opportunity to do something big here and I don’t think we took advantage of it,” City Councilor David Brown said at a recent council meeting.

Toscano convened a joint meeting last April for the City Council, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and both school boards after the two localities clashed over a request by the county School Board to recalculate a formula that determines state funding for education. The local composite index does not take into account the annual revenue sharing payment that the county makes to the city.

If the effort had been successful, the county would have received an additional $2.6 million in state funding for education, but the money would have come from Charlottesville’s allocation. The idea prompted outrage from city officials.

“Periodically this threat gets raised about coming after funding that is currently being directed for city schools and appropriating it for county schools,” Mayor Dave Norris said. “And then we have to go and scramble and hire lobbyists to go down to Richmond [to fight] Albemarle County because of this proposal.”

One outcome of the meeting was the formation of a subcommittee tasked to find areas where some funding could be allocated to joint projects. The group met behind closed doors last August.

“The school departments of the city and county were to identify a mutually beneficial program which could be created or increased to use the contested $2.6 million,” Albemarle Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said. One idea was to create a “virtual high school” to offer remote classes, but Mallek said the idea was too expensive.

“We need to start with a smaller effort,” Mallek said.

Another outcome of last April’s joint meeting was the formation of subcommittees to explore whether the two jurisdictions’ fire-rescue or social services departments could be merged.

The groups were directed to “examine delivery of services and implement measures which increase the level of services at the same cost or provide the same level of services at lower cost to taxpayers of both jurisdictions.”

However, both reports issued by the committees listed several reasons why merging would end up costing taxpayers more money.

Download Download Fire-Rescue Consolidation report

Download Download Social Services Consolidation report

“Through their discussions and their research, staff and elected members of those groups came to conclusions that, at this point, consolidating services may not be the best route to take,” City Manager Maurice Jones said. “But we have been collaborating on a lot of different issues for many years and both groups identified [new] areas that we can collaborate on in the future.”

Councilor Kristin Szakos said she would welcome further discussions about becoming one community rather than two, but understood some of the obstacles.

“One thing I was struck by with social services … is that if you combine them, you’d have to build a new building because you’d suddenly have a bigger staff and so you’d eat up the savings with construction [costs].”

Despite the recommendation, Councilor Satyendra Huja said he still sought further exploration of consolidating the city and county social services departments.

“Even if you did nothing else, you would have one less director and one less assistant [to pay],” Huja said.

Brown said he has received advice from former councilors that consolidation will only happen if it is the will of the council and the Board of Supervisors.

“Staff on the city side and staff on the county side have too much invested in the status quo to really want to push for change,” Brown said. “That’s what I’ve found to be true.”

Councilor Holly Edwards said the consolidation talk should have provided an opportunity to combat what she sees as one of the region’s biggest issues.

“Poverty knows no boundaries between the city and the county and neither does grief or loss or pain,” Edwards said. “This may conclude the story for now, but I think there might be opportunities in the future.”

The fire-rescue report outlined several areas where the two communities are already working together, including joint work on training, investigations and educational outreach. Mallek said the county already pays the city to provide additional coverage in the Pantops area.

“The development of a true mutual aid agreement is [expected],” Mallek said.
 

March 11, 2011

Council briefed on details of $140 million budget

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, March 11, 2011

 

The Charlottesville City Council has held the first of several work sessions to review the proposed $140 million budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2011.

“I don’t want to say this budget is boring, but it’s not exactly the most exciting budget,” said Budget Director Leslie Beauregard. “It’s obviously not growing as much as past ones have, but I think we’ve managed to get a few new things in here.”

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110311-CC-BudgetWorkSession

Beauregard projects 1.16% increase in revenue from real property taxes, a 1.36% increase from sales taxes, a 3.44% rise from the meals tax and a 7.47% increase from the transient room tax.

“All of these are good indicators that maybe the economy is starting to pick up again,” Beauregard said. “I don’t think we’re being overly optimistic. I think we’re being a bit cautious in how we project our revenues.”

However, Beauregard projects a decrease in revenue from the cigarette tax due to changing habits.

“In a sense you can look at this as a blessing in disguise because people are smoking less, or they’re going to the county because they don’t have a cigarette tax,” Beauregard said.

One uncertainty is how much money funding will come from the state. Beauregard
pointed out that since FY08, state-aid had dropped by 16%.

Of the county’s $18 million revenue-sharing payment, the city will use $12.663 million to fund the operating budget. $4.359 million goes to the capital improvement program budget and the rest will go towards replacement and repair funds. Last year the city only used half of the revenue-sharing payment for operating funds.

It has become common practice for a pool of money to be set aside for Council to use throughout the year for new initiatives. The current year’s budget set aside $265,000 for such ventures. Beauregard said council has about $50,000 remaining in the current year’s pool.

Mayor Dave Norris wanted to know what happened to the $100,000 set aside to study new recycling options, and the $110,000 set aside to implement changes to the transit system. Beauregard said she would have an answer on the recycling funding at a future work session.

City Manager Maurice Jones said the transit money was still in reserve pending the results of the transit development plan being put together with help from the Connetics Transportation Group.
Councilor Holly Edwards said she wanted to see if the $100,000 could be spent to hire an outside consultant to “look at how things could be changed differently.”

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City Councilor Kristin Szakos

Both she and Councilor Kristin Szakos expressed dissatisfaction with the work produced by Connetics, which was unveiled to them at a work session earlier this month.

“We didn’t get everything out of that that we thought we were going to get,” Edwards said.

“We got some good ideas and I think what it did mostly was affirm for us that our transit system is a good one,” Edwards said, “But what is it that we can do to bring things to the next level?”

City Councilor David Brown said he was uncomfortable with how the council’s initiative pool has grown.

“When I got on Council, there was a little bit of money so we could tinker around the edges with what had come through the process,” Brown said. “And now it’s grown to be a quarter of a million dollars. I worry that implies that we have a fair amount of money to initiate new programs.”

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - City Manager Maurice Jones introduces discussion
  • 02:00 - Budget director Leslie Beauregard begins going through the budget
  • 07:00 - Question about short-term rentals
  • 09:00 - Beauregard describes trends for intergovernmental revenue
  • 12:00 - Beauregard explains shift in funding for First Tee program
  • 17:00 - Parks director Brian Daly outlines how new Smith facility is bringing in additional revenue for city parks
  • 18:00 - Beauregard continues explaining intergovernmental revenue
  • 20:00 - Discussion of revenue-sharing
  • 25:30 - Discussion of council initiatives
  • 26:00 - Discussion of expansion of city's internship program
  • 29:30 - Discussion of extension of community dialogue on race
  • 30:40 - Discussion of council's $250,000 pool of funding for new initiatives
  • 32:45 - Discussion of CSA administration being moved to Department of Social Services
  • 37:45 - Discussion of additional money ($670,000) back from the state which will be banked for future capital programs
  • 39:00 - Mayor Dave Norris asks whether that is the right approach
  • 45:00 - Councilor David Brown indicates uneasiness with council's pool of funding for new initiatives
  • 52:00 - Brown asks to talk about some of the internal costs in the budget, such as the city's contribution to employment retirement
  • 54:00 - Beauregard explains how employee salaries are going up, and that employees will pay more for health insurance
  • 56:30 - Beauregard explains that the switch to hybrid vehicles has led to $100,000 savings in fuel
  • 58:15 - Brown asks about decrease in state funding for regional jail s
  • 01:00:00 - Councilor Holly Edwards asks for a copy of the efficiency study
  • 01:00:30 - Edwards asks if money can be set aside for new study of bus system
  • 01:04:15 - Beauregard explains $45,000 set aside for cutbacks in state funding for registrar's office
  • 01:07:00 - City Councilor Kristin Szakos asks for information on city spending for Chesapeake Bay TMDL
  • 01:11:00 - Public comment from Jeanne Chase in support of the Old Lynchburg Road project

 

20110310-council-wide

 

February 22, 2011

Council reviews environmental impacts of designs for larger dam; Late vote endorses earthen dam

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
 
As the community approaches the fifth anniversary of the approval of a 50-year water supply plan for Charlottesville and Albemarle County, city officials are again being asked to specify their design preference for a dam to be built at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

After polling the City Council in advance of Tuesday’s meeting, the only thing that was clear was that officials were anticipating a lively discussion and that the outcome of a potential vote remained uncertain. The council’s discussion occurred after press time.

UPDATE: After press time, Charlottesville City Council voted 3-2, with Norris and Edwards against, to endorse the all new earthen dam design with a 30' initial rise in the reservoir at Ragged Mountain. Visit cvilletomorrow.org and DailyProgress.com early Wednesday for complete coverage of the discussion and the implications for the water supply plan.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Mayor Dave Norris said.

The council has continued to review the differences between the earthen dam, favored by Albemarle, and a concrete extension of the existing dam, an approach the city has been exploring independently over the past year.

In January, Councilors Kristin Szakos, David Brown and Satyendra Huja voted to support a much larger reservoir as part of the almost $140 million water plan. Previously, after passing a resolution in September, the council had unanimously favored a phased approach to building what would have initially been a much smaller dam.

Now the dam’s first phase, however it is constructed, will make the expanded reservoir at least 30 feet higher. With the costs of the two designs now relatively close, the council has shifted its attention to a better understanding of potential environmental impacts.

“[The concrete dam] is clearly the more environmentally friendly option and the more cost-effective option,” Norris said. “Both types of dams produce the same amount of water, so why wouldn’t we choose the dam that has significantly less impact on the environment?”

Councilor Holly Edwards joined Norris in voting against the larger dam last month.

“It was my hope that we would be able to use the dam we have and just build upon that,” Edwards said. “I have no interest in building an entirely new dam.”

The council decided at its first meeting in February to give Albemarle officials one last opportunity to review the concrete dam design. In response, the Board of Supervisors wrote a letter to the council saying they continued to have concerns about the merits and cost-effectiveness of a concrete dam. The supervisors declined a presentation by the city’s engineering firm and asked the council to endorse an earthen dam.

“I can’t say I am fully there yet,” Szakos said. “Which dam we build is not a life and death thing to me. I am willing to hear arguments on both sides.”

Huja, who was previously the only councilor firmly behind the earthen dam, said he was still open to other options.

“My leaning is in that direction [toward an earthen dam], but I may change my mind tonight,” Huja said.

Brown says he has been persuaded by the advanced stage of the earthen dam design and the research by the Independent Technical Review Team that has evaluated the work of all the consultants on the dam project.

“I favor the earthen dam for a number of reasons, and while there are arguments on both sides, I like the idea of a new dam,” Brown said. “The ITRT study questioned the wisdom of building on top of [the 1908 dam] and I think we should take that seriously.”

Thomas L. Frederick Jr., the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s executive director, has repeatedly reminded local officials about looming deadlines for the dam project set by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board. The board has directed both localities to have final engineering completed on a dam in April with construction permits issued to build it by May.

Because of safety concerns with the existing dam dating to 1978, state officials have said the community could face unspecified enforcement actions if the dam is not repaired or replaced on schedule. In a report this week, Frederick told the RWSA board that he is seeing “a significant increase in diligence by [the Virginia Dam Safety office] in recent months to review the progress of this project.”

“That’s a fear tactic,” Norris said. “We know that the state wants to see us come to a resolution with some concrete progress. … We have had 30 years of extensions on this operating permit, and I have full confidence that if the [concrete dam] approach is adopted we can get moving on the final design.”

Szakos said while the design for the concrete dam, if selected, would have to play catch-up to the earthen dam, she believes it could still be accomplished on about the same schedule.

“The construction timeline of [the concrete dam] is quicker, even if it takes a couple more months of engineering,” Szakos said. “It wouldn’t delay completion of the dam significantly.”

“If we decide on [the concrete dam], it would be because we thought it was the better option,” Szakos added. “If it was cheaper and quicker to build, and we believe less environmentally impactful, then I would think, since we are an independent elected body, that would be worth [the county] paying attention to.”

The council’s discussion came after press time Tuesday. Visit cvilletomorrow.org and DailyProgress.com for complete coverage of the discussion and the implications for the water supply plan.

February 21, 2011

Edwards will not run for second term on Charlottesville City Council

20110221-Edwards1 By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, February 21, 2011

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Holly Edwards announced Monday that she would not seek election to a second term on Charlottesville City Council.  Edwards was a newcomer to politics when first elected to council in November 2007.

Edwards said there was no single reason why she had decided not to run, but that she was looking forward to having more time to focus on her family and career.  She was joined at the announcement held at the Crescent Halls community room by her four daughters and her husband.

Edwards said the decision not to run for re-election was a difficult one which she made in consultation with her family.  Edwards, who turns 51 next month, pledged to remain active in city affairs.

“I was feeling as if I had accomplished a few things that were important on council and I was ready to move on and focus on my family and my professional life,” said Edwards in an interview.  “I want to get back to my work in the community that got me interested in running for city council in the first place.”

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110221-Edwards

Watch the video below:

20110221-Edwards from Charlottesville Tomorrow on Vimeo.


Edwards is currently a nurse working with the Jefferson Area Board for Aging at the Crescent Hall and Westhaven public housing sites.

“I was working for the Public Housing Association of Residents before my term began, then I moved into an advisory role,” said Edwards.  “I would like to do more mentoring.  What I have learned from taking care of public housing residents has helped me to grow, by walking with them though their journeys and successes.”

Edwards said that over the past three years her work on council has resulted in a lot of “character-building experiences.”  She highlighted her work on the Dialogue on Race and her service on over 10 boards and commissions. 

With about 10 months remaining in her term, Edwards called on council to focus on several priorities including the redevelopment of public housing, workforce development, employment opportunities for felons, and healthcare for the medically underserved.  She also called for council to make an apology for Charlottesville’s past “urban renewal” initiatives which relocated African-American residents and business owners from neighborhoods like Vinegar Hill in the 1960s.

Edwards also mentioned that she was the first city councilor to serve on the expanded board of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority.  On January 18, Edwards joined Mayor Dave Norris in voting against having a much larger dam built at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir as part of the fifty-year community water supply plan. 

At that meeting, a majority of councilors endorsed building a larger reservoir and council will vote Tuesday on the question of whether the water plan will feature an all-new earthen dam or a concrete extension of the dam originally built in 1908.  At recent council meetings, Edwards has had little to say about the water debate.

“I haven’t given much voice to that because …it was my hope that we would be able to use the dam we have and just build upon that,” said Edwards.  “I have no interest in building an entirely new dam.”

Edwards also joined Norris in voting against the Meadowcreek Parkway road project.  Both councilors voted against the parkway at least three times on items from the interchange design, to funding appropriations, to the granting of construction easements for the portion of the road on city land in Albemarle County. 

The June 2, 2008 vote on the easement was largely responsible for an unsuccessful court case which challenged whether a supermajority vote (4 votes on a 5 member body) was required by council to convey public land to VDOT.

The water plan and the Meadowcreek Parkway have been two issues that have deeply divided city and county officials during Edwards tenure.  In her remarks, Edwards called for “building bridges” in the city-county relationship.

“I was hoping for a closer collaboration [with Albemarle], even consolidation between our police force, to develop a metropolitan police force, and the consolidation of social services,” said Edwards.  “I do look forward to seeing the future collaboration of successful services between the two [localities].”

Edwards said she has learned a lot more about the “city-county dynamic” while serving on council.

“In many ways our goals are the same…but the city and county really have two different cultures and different sets of values,” said Edwards.  “I think because the values are different we are not really able to collaborate in some areas or consolidate in others.”

“Some of the environmental issues that we embrace, the county may also agree with, but they don’t have the level of passion that’s in the city,” she said.

A democrat, Edwards was elected to her first term on council in November 2007 along with fellow party members David Brown and Satyendra Huja.  Brown announced last year he would not run for a third term.  Huja has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election to a second term in 2011.

Edwards challenged other community members to serve in local government and said she would like to see other African-Americans pursue seats on city council.

“I don’t take for granted all the work that has been done by the African-Americans in the community, both past and present,” said Edwards.  “I know that I stand on the shoulders of those that opened doors many, many years ago, but there is still much work to be done, history to be made, and there are still questions that haven’t been asked yet.  We must rise to the occasion.”

Edwards’ current term ends on December 31, 2011, but she said she should not be viewed as a lame duck.

“Lame duck?  I quack not,” said Edwards.  “My philosophy has always been you are only as good as your last day of work.”

January 14, 2011

Speaking out for West Main: Councilors hear concerns of residents

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, January 14, 2011


Residents of Charlottesville’s 10th and Page and Starr Hill neighborhoods had the chance Thursday to ask direct questions of the City Council and city department heads.

The event, which was held at First Baptist Church on West Main Street, was the latest in a series of town hall meetings to allow the council to hear concerns of citizens who wouldn’t ordinarily attend a meeting at City Hall. The idea was championed by Councilor Kristin Szakos and Mayor Dave Norris during the 2009 election.

The interim president of the 10th and Page neighborhood said he was glad to have the chance to get the ear of people he referred to as “heavy-hitters.”

“We would like more lighting for 10th Street,” John Gaines said. He presented a long list of issues in his neighborhood, including cut-through traffic, a lack of sidewalks and parking by University of Virginia employees.

Another resident said she wanted reform of the way the city assigns people to public housing, and said she can’t understand why she has been unable to secure a space for her family.

“My name has been on the housing list [for years],” Georgene Spears said. She added that public housing should be seen as a transitional place for people who are trying to get on their feet, rather than a permanent home.

“No one really wants to live in [public] housing but you have to do what you have to do,” she said, adding that she lives in a rat-infested apartment. “With the income we have ... me and my family, we can’t afford to live anywhere else.”

CDP_0114_Council_106
Georgene Spears (Credit: Daily Progress)

Karen Waters of the nonprofit Quality Community Council said she would assist, and said that the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority is considering a change to the system.

“If you’re homeless, you have a priority. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, you have a priority,” Waters said. “Now what they’re thinking about doing is a straight ranking from the time you apply that’s time-oriented.”

Waters met with Spears afterwards to ensure her comments would be heard.

One woman wanted an update on the relocation of the city yard, which is thought to be a potential redevelopment opportunity in the community’s future. Public works Director Judy Mueller said it would not happen for at least five years because there is no room in the budget for the move, which she said could cost over $40 million.

Many people also called for the city to better remember the history of their neighborhoods. Many streets in both neighborhoods were removed from the map during urban renewal.

“There’s nothing from where I grew up,” said Daryl Jones, who attended the now-closed Jefferson School.

Gaines asked for the city to place a historical marker commemorating the life of John West, a former slave who made a fortune as a barber and for whom the Westhaven community is named.

The next town hall meeting will be held Feb. 15 for the Venable and Jefferson Park Avenue neighborhoods.

November 09, 2009

City and County move energy audit program forward

By Connie Chang
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, November 9, 2009


Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors are one step closer to launching a collaborative initiative called the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP). Both entities passed a memorandum of understanding last week that will allow the City and County to direct grant funds to a non-profit operating company to carry out their goals.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20091103-LEAP


In June 2009, the City and County won a $500,000 grant from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA), whose main purpose was to establish a community-based energy alliance that would coordinate and provide energy-efficiency related services to residential and commercial property owners of all income levels. LEAP would also provide loans to homeowners to assist in covering the cost of energy-saving improvements.

20091103-LEAP
LEAP Concept of Operations (Source: SEEA grant application)
The City and County’s joint proposal to develop LEAP set a goal of a 20-40% efficiency gain in 30-50% of structures within seven years. Because the City and County do not have the legal authority to accept the grant directly, staff has been exploring the legal ramifications and limitations with respect to forming a new non-profit.

With the assistance of outside legal counsel, staff drafted a memorandum of understanding that establishes that SEEA will redirect the grant to a local operating company and that SEEA will agree to perform all due diligence to ensure that the local operating company meets the criteria enumerated in the proposed MOU. City and County staff have involved various stakeholders in the process of developing the LEAP program, including UVA, PVCC, Dominion Power, and SEEA.

The LEAP program is currently comprised of a three-member Board of Directors, which is expected to expand to include other community stakeholders, such as a representative from the state energy office and local elected officials.

LEAP is currently in the process of filing articles of incorporation with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and in the process of filing for tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.

With the approval of the MOU, City and County staff expect to have an operating company selected before the end of November and to launch the program as early as January 2010.

While City Councilors and County Supervisors are enthusiastic about the environmental benefits and job opportunities with the implementation of the LEAP program, the issue of funding was brought into question by Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna).

“This is just another method of creating bigger government that we do all the time,” said Boyd.

However, the Board agreed that the LEAP program will not have any budgetary impact at this time.

“This is not any undertaking to spend any dollars by Albemarle County,” said Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett). “That would be a separate decision at a future time if in fact it ever came up.”

“I look forward to supporting the initiative that brings half a million dollars of money into our community to help us facilitate the creation of a program that will result in tremendous economic benefit to a large number of County residents by making it possible for them to reduce their energy cost burdens,” said David Slutzky (Rio).


TIMELINE FOR PODCAST

01:00 – City Council meeting
02:31 – Climate protection programs coordinator Cynthia Adams presents
06:17 – Councilor Satyendra Huja asks how the City and County are involved with the new board agency
08:17 – Councilor David Brown moves approval the memorandum of understanding
08:24 – Board of Supervisors meeting
13:30 – Supervisor Ken Boyd comments that he would like to add a “whereas” to the MOU that it is a non-taxpayer funded organization
14:25 – Supervisor David Slutzky objects to addition
16:00 – Supervisor Dennis Rooker moves approval of the memorandum of understanding
18:20 – Board of Supervisors pass MOU unanimously

October 23, 2009

City candidates emphasize citizen input; local government accountability

By Connie Chang & Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, October 23, 2009

With less than 2 weeks left until Election Day, citizens had one last opportunity to hear Charlottesville City Council candidates come together to discuss their views on local issues.  All five candidates relayed messages of the need for a more accountable local government, preservation and acquisition of green space, and methods to assist those in the lowest-economic bracket in the City.


Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20091021-AON-Forum

20091021-Alliance-1
Bob Fenwick (I), Paul Long (I), Moderator Jack Brown
At the Wednesday night forum hosted by the Alliance of Neighborhoods in City Council Chambers, Democrats Dave Norris and Kristin Szakos and independents Bob Fenwick, Paul Long, and Andrew Williams, responded to questions provided in advance as well as to inquiries from the audience. The Alliance of Neighborhoods was created in 2008 in order to protect the quality of life for Charlottesville and Albemarle County neighborhoods, which was a theme that resonated throughout the forum.

One of the prepared questions asked candidates to respond with measures they would take to improve traffic conditions and safety on Charlottesville roads. All of the candidates agreed that implementing traffic calming measures can help lessen problems associated with automobiles already on the road, but that more emphasis should be made on encouraging pedestrian and transit use. Many felt that expanding the current transit system to include more routes with more frequent service should be a transportation commitment made by the City.

Long, who has been a long-time advocate of alternative forms of transportation, said that there should be an “equal commitment to transportation” as with other issues Council must consider.

Candidates also agreed on the need to preserve green space throughout Charlottesville. With current state law, the City of Charlottesville does not possess the authority to require developers to protect green space with new projects. However, incumbent Dave Norris (D) noted that for the first time in many years, the City currently has funding to purchase green space and has worked to expand its tree planting program.

20091021-Alliance-2
Dave Norris (D), Kristin Szakos (D), Andrew Williams (I)
The forum called into question the capacity of local government to address citizen concerns. Several agreed that citizens need an “ally” in the City who they can depend on to listen to their requests and follow-through with results.

“The ability and willingness to listen should radiate through the department,” said Andrew Williams, the race’s independent write-in candidate.

The Alliance asked candidates whether they would eliminate or change the structure of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, both entities are jointly administered by Charlottesville and Albemarle County. No candidate called for the elimination of the water authority and only Norris said the City’s participation in the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority should be reexamined in the next year.

“Both of these organizations have hard working and competent employees…but the leadership is dysfunctional,” said Fenwick who cited the community water supply plan and the lawsuit against Peter van der Linde as examples.

“I think we need to make sure these folks work for us,” said Szakos.  “One way to do that is to be more proactive in who we chose to put on those boards and commissions.”

On these particular boards, there is only one voting member who is not there by virtue of their job in local government or as an elected official.  That seat is currently held by citizen Michael Gaffney who was jointly reappointed by City Council and the Board of Supervisors in December 2008.

Norris also commended citizens for stepping up and questioning on-going work of the RWSA and RSWA.  He said the addition of elected officials on both boards earlier this year would lead to more accountability.

Another audience question prompted the candidates to discuss their priorities in assisting the City’s poor. Fenwick identified jobs, education and neighborhood associations as the main elements to reaching this goal.

“The key to a strong city is strong neighborhoods,” said Fenwick.

Other candidates agreed that the City must work hard to close the achievement gap and affordable housing gap for its citizens by providing a broader range of job opportunities and investing in technical and vocational training.

“We need to come together with businesses and non-profits to figure out how to get a community that doesn’t fail our kids,” said Szakos.

The candidate forum was moderated by Jack Brown, a member of the Executive Board of the Alliance of Neighborhoods, and was attended by about 30 people.  The forum was broadcast live on public access television.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST

01:00 - Introduction from Jack Brown, member of the Executive Board of the Alliance of Neighborhoods
03:00 - Opening statement by Andrew Williams (I)
04:31 - Opening statement by Kristin Szakos (D)
07:14 - Opening statement by Bob Fenwick (I)
10:35 - Opening statement by Dave Norris (D)
12:59 - Opening statement by Paul Long (I)
16:30 - Prepared Question 1: Countless surveys, formal or informal, over the past decade show traffic as the top problem confronting every city neighborhood -- too many cars and too much speeding.  But we have seen little effective action by city police, the planners, or NDS.  Quite the reverse.  What specific actions do you propose to address the problem?
25:54 - Prepared Question 2: Lately, Charlottesville has been placing an emphasis on our urban tree canopy.  Almost all can agree that our green surroundings are a matter of civic pride, and a draw to tourists and potential residents.  Would you support requiring developers to actively plant street trees and other significant vegetation-- even if it means that they might have to slightly reduce the size of their project to allow for this?
33:25 - Prepared Question 3: Almost every neighborhood organization has experienced the following scenario: They go before Council and/or the Planning Commission requesting assistance for a problem affecting their neighborhood.  These issues run the gamut from traffic relief to sidewalks to zoning conflicts.  Frequently, they are told that leaders or city staff will look into the problem and revisit the situation within a proscribed number of months, or meetings will be set up asking for neighborhood input.  But more often than not, the request either falls through the cracks, or the neighborhood's wishes are ignored, resulting in a carrot & stick scenario.  What would you propose to stop this frustrating and time-consuming cycle?
43:58 - Prepared Question 4: Many people in the city feel that both the RWSA and RSWA, including our appointed representatives on these Boards, are failing to represent the wishes of many residents.  In light of all that's happened over the past few years, should we do away with the Authority model entirely, or would you propose changes to the existing model?  What would those changes be?
53:40 - Prepared Question 5: What specific areas (e.g. institutions, joint services) could and should be administered jointly with Albermarle County?  For example, would you support joint City/County "Charter Schools" that can draw from the best of both school systems?  Should first responder services be merged, and if so, how and when?
1:06:36 - Audience Question 1: What is the number one thing you would do to help those on the lowest-economic rung?
1:12:27 - Audience Question 2: Are there city management issues that give you cause for concern? What are they? What do you plan to do about them?
1:17:57 - Audience Question 3: The city assessor has indicated that city assessments are down this year. Would you be more inclined to increase taxes or reduce services to make up for this shortfall?
1:23:40 - Audience Question 4: What will you do to offset the destruction of our natural resources by actions that the city may take?
1:29:45 - Audience Question 5: Do you favor requiring all landlords to conduct regular quality maintenance?
1:33:31 - Audience Question 6: Why say that the YMCA will be next to Charlottesville High School when it will really be in McIntire Park which we're trying to save?
1:37:15 - Audience Question 7: Why should City Council continue to support the Meadowcreek Parkway when the County has not lived up to its part of the agreement by for example, building the Sunset-Fontaine connector?
1:41:22 - Audience Question 8: We do not yet have a state-approved 30-50 water plan required by law by 2011. Will you pledge to get decade by decade calculations of the amount of water needed as required by the state plan before signing any agreement with the County to move forward with a new dam?
1:45:13 - Audience Question 9: Why did City Council allow the RWSA and RSWA to "fly under the radar?" Isn't it the responsibility of City Council to make sure that proper maintenance is done for the reservoir? Why wasn't dredging done? Is City Council paying attention?
1:51:46 - Closing statement by Paul Long
1:52:56 - Closing statement by Bob Fenwick
1:54:17 - Closing statement by Andrew Williams
1:56:06 - Closing statement by Kristin Szakos
1:57:00 - Closing statement by Dave Norris
1:58:18 - Closing remarks by Jack Brown

October 12, 2009

RWSA director briefs Council on new dam estimate, potential pipeline options

By Connie Chang
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, October 12, 2009


On October 5, 2009, Tom Frederick, Executive Director of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, provided the Charlottesville City Council with a status report on several items related to the community water supply plan. Frederick commented on the costs and logistics of repairing the existing lower dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, as well as the proposed pipeline to connect the Ragged Mountain and South Fork Rivanna Reservoirs. 

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20091005-CC-Frederick Frederick also reviewed the work that is being undertaken by Schnabel Engineering to design a replacement dam at Ragged Mountain, as envisioned in the 2006 community water supply plan.  Schnabel, based in Glen Allen, Virginia, was awarded a $1.3 million contract in September for preliminary engineering.  The goal is to secure a new design and a new cost estimate for construction of the dam by late spring of 2010.  


TIMELINE FOR PODCAST

01:00 – Tom Frederick provides status report
02:06 – Frederick reports on new dam design firm, Schnabel Engineering
04:28 – Frederick reports on asking firm whether they can provide ballpark cost for lower-height dam
06:46 – Mayor Dave Norris asks why Gannett Fleming said it would cost a fraction to repair the existing Lower Ragged Mountain Dam and why Schnabel says it will cost more
09:54 – Frederick explains discrepancy between two firms’ cost estimates
10:10 – Councilor David Brown asks whether they are referring to repairing the dam or making it taller
10:42 – Norris comments that Gannett Fleming provided an estimate for enlarging the dam
11:13 – Frederick comments on consistent reporting
12:33 – Frederick says the idea of raising the dam can be studied if they want to
12:55 – Norris asks for an estimate of how much that study would cost
14:27 – Frederick discusses relationship between the size of the proposed pipeline from South Fork to Ragged Mountain and the storage required in of all reservoirs
16:28 – Norris asks whether projections are based on current water demand and a 5% conservation rate
17:49 – Frederick describes Hydrologics’ model
18:55 – Frederick describes Gannett Fleming’s model
19:17 – Norris asks about 20% conservation rate achieved during drought emergency
20:20 – Norris comments that he believes they can plan for lower water consumption than what is envisioned in the current plan
21:15 – Norris asks whether his assumption that lower water consumption can lower average flow is correct
21:51 – Brown asks whether Frederick has any comments on discussion that water consumption is lower
22:30 – Frederick responds
24:25 – Frederick comments on third study, a water conservation study has been completed
24:47 – Norris comments that that study is still in progress
25:05 – Frederick comments on fourth item, a conceptual review of the assumptions of the conceptual design of the pipeline
26:08 – Norris asks for clarification about the proposed routing for the South Fork pipeline
29:30 – Norris asks whether they will evaluate the projected costs of land acquisition
30:05 – Frederick comments on fifth item, dredging feasibility studies
30:17 – Frederick comments on sixth item, pros and cons of three pipelines (South Fork to Ragged Mountain, Sugar Hollow to Ragged Mountain, James River to Ragged Mountain)
31:06 – Norris comments that it will be helpful to compare options by costs
32:00 – Frederick comments on being able to provide lengths of each pipeline
32:38 – Norris comments on trying to get the most accurate estimate on costs and factoring in the renegotiation of easements for a replacement Sugar Hollow pipeline
33:40 – Brown comments that he believes RWSA will find a proper estimate
34:57 – Frederick comments that they can have a consultant do a conceptual design and cost estimate for the update
35:38 – Brown comments that he’d like to see RWSA provide information on how much they can spend and what they can get with it
36:25 – Norris asks Frederick to comment on I-64 embankment being separated out
39:33 – Norris asks where we are now on cost-share allocation of city versus county
39:50 – City Manager Gary O’Connell responds that he can’t give solid numbers
41:00 – Julian Taliaferro asks whether maintenance is a part of the cost estimate
41:22 – Judy Mueller responds
43:04 – Norris asks how confident Frederick is in the current projections of costs to upgrade treatments plants and related infrastructure