Engaging with Albemarle County

An easy way to learn about and engage with Albemarle County – Engage Albemarle.

Here’s an interesting topic:

The Comprehensive Plan is Albemarle County’s most important document regarding growth, development and change. It establishes government policy to help guide public and private activities as they relate to land use and resource utilization. What general thoughts would you like to share about the Comprehensive Plan as it is being reviewed by the Board of Supervisors this summer and fall?

Better to express your opinion now in the hopes the Comp Plan can be altered than complain about the decisions that have already been made.

What would be helpful would be if the County would identify which specific parts of the Comp Plan are, or are likely to be, up for debate/discussion – in the Housing section, for example (pdf).

Changing the Proffer System in Albemarle County

I can’t argue with any of this.

I’d say that there has to be a balance between new homes paying their way and existing homes paying their way.

“I think the presumption of the policy is that the county needs an additional means of collecting dollars to pay for capital improvements, which presumes that the existing tools that you have are not adequate,” said Frank Stoner of Milestone Partners.

Stoner was among those who suggested that an increase in real estate property taxes would be a fairer way to raise funds. Last month, Albemarle County adopted a tax rate of 79.9 cents per $100 of assessed real estate value, a 3.3-cent increase over the previous rate of 76.6 cents.

“A 1 cent tax increase gives you almost double the revenue that you have received through the proffer policy,” Stoner said, “and at least it’s equitable and it’s an existing tool that you have.”

I’ve written about this before.

My answer to the question (what are the negatives about living in Charlottesville and Albemarle): Perhaps the single greatest negative with living in CharlAlbemarle is the collective inability of the City and County to implement plans – specifically for infrastructure. Their constant bickering, planning, fighting, planning, discussing, planning and then planning some more is remarkably irresponsible.

Is removing cash proffers an option? (from May 2013):

And … keep in mind that the City of Charlottesville is much better funded than the County of Albemarle with respect to infrastructure.

The Western Bypass is Apparently Dead. So What’s Next?

So says the Daily Progress.

One decades-old question was answered with a resounding no.

“A bypass is not something we would consider,” Norfolk-based consultant Philip A. Shucet, the head of the advisory panel and former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation, told the board.

Nearly two years after officials awarded a contract for the bypass, and after $54 million was spent on the project, the planned 6.2-mile road has become a footnote.

The transportation board, a 17-member panel of gubernatorial appointees that presides over Virginia’s transportation system, will determine what happens to unspent money from a project state officials had valued at more than $244 million.

If nothing else, this seems to remove the uncertainty from the conversation about the Western Bypass. We can return now to our discussions about the woes of traffic on 29 North and how the CharlAlbemarle area is woefully incapable of understanding the issues and equally incapable of implementing solutions. Such is life.

Rather than go into the history of the Western Bypass (it goes on for decades), discuss the various regional influences (Lynchburg is key), the various local players (broadly it’s growth vs no-growth) and whether VDOT is going to sell the houses it bought many years ago (it should if the Bypass is truly dead) or even whether the Western Bypass was the right route (it wasn’t but that’s because it’s a 30+ year old design, designed well before massive growth on 29 North) – start looking at background at Charlottesville Tomorrow.

Lynchburg is mad.

There is a fundamental disagreement over what, exactly, U.S. 29 is. Is it a major north-south transportation corridor with the goal of providing relatively unimpeded traffic flow to through traffic along its 1,000-mile path or is it, in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, a local retail strip? It can’t be both. …

Charlottesville and Albemarle, however, still persist in their silly, outdated belief that U.S. 29 is really just “Emmett Street,” the local retail strip, and has no connection to the rest of the state. That’s evident in Albemarle’s “plan” to address improvements on Emmett Street: a silly, utopian “Places29” with overpasses — built where major retail centers now sit — for through traffic, pedestrian-friendly amenities and added lanes for traffic.

I think they’re right. If the bypass is truly dead, what’s the solution?

Short story – a new solution needs to be implemented. One would assume it would need to be agreed upon first, so let’s accept that the segmentation of the Charlottesville – Albemarle region will continue. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just is. (more)

One of the first things I thought about what this line from Ocean’s 11.

I’m thinking we will need to wait for Elon Musk’s hyper loop.

Albemarle County May Increase the Property Tax Rate

Assessments are up. So might be the mil rate.

From the Daily Progress:

Recommended budget value: $349.3 million

Increase over current year: 8.3 percent ($26.8 million)

Proposed real estate tax rate: 80.8 cents/$100 assessed value

Current rate: 76.6 cents/$100 assessed value

Impact: The annual tax bill on a property assessed at $300,000 would increase from $2,298 to $2,424 at the proposed rate.

Proposed raises: 2 percent for county staff

So … the tax rate cannot go higher than 80.8 cents/$100 assessed value. And it could stay at 76.6 cents. Of the proposed 4.2 cent increase, nearly half of that would be dedicated to the Albemarle County schools. This should be an interesting debate.

If you’re curious to learn even more about the Albemarle County budget, the County has a lot of information on their site.

How to Pay for Albemarle County Schools?

It costs nearly $12,000 per year to educate a kid in Albemarle County Schools. This year, the County Schools are facing a proposed funding gap of nearly $7 million and the cry from many parents, administrators and citizens has been to “fully fund the schools. (including emails from the schools’ email distribution newsgroups).”

Rather than repeat myself, this is a story I wrote three years ago and it’s still relevant. Schools matter for housing values. Period. People move to the Charlottesville area all the time for the schools. Schools. Matter. (this is as good a time as any to remind folks to check your school district before you write an offer to purchase a home )

But …

How should the citizenry pay for the schools?

Would people support an Adequate Public Facilities legislation?

A schools tax?

Asking for “more!” without referencing the “how?” in my opinion diminishes the argument.

* note: one of my kids graduated from Western Albemarle schools and one is currently enrolled.