Charlottesville and Albemarle Governments Clash. Again.

For anyone interested in a prime example of the City of Charlottesville’s and County of Albemarle’s occasionally dysfunctional relationship, Rachana Dixit and Brandon Shulleeta have great story in today’s Daily Progress.

When explaining the City/County relationship to relocating buyers, I often describe the governments as being akin to estranged husbands and wives who are sharing custody of the kids. Or as brothers and sisters who occasionally poke each other in the eye, just to see what will happen. I know these explanations trivialize the importance of the Charlottesville/Albemarle relationship and doesn’t give credit for the many places in which they do cooperate, but they are still applicable analogies.

The clash over money between Charlottesville and Albemarle County is turning into a political civil war, with warnings that each step from here will undermine collaborations that would cut expenses and instead possibly cost taxpayers big bucks down the road.

Historically, revenue-sharing payments have ballooned. The first payment was for $1.29 million, and in the current budget, Charlottesville received more than $18 million, bringing the total payment amount to $160.8 million since the agreement went into effect in 1982.

Many county officials say it’s unfair that a state formula that determines education funding for localities — based largely on localities’ wealth — fails to account for the revenue-sharing agreement. Bell’s amendment proposal would count the money Albemarle pays Charlottesville toward the city’s wealth instead of the county’s wealth — which would increase state education funding for Albemarle in fiscal 2012 by $2.6 million and decrease Charlottesville’s state education funding by that same amount.

Albemarle School Board member Brian Wheeler said he thinks it is unlikely Bell’s amendment will pass and that the legislation could instead increase bad blood between the two localities.

How does this affect buyers, sellers, homeowners, renters in the CharlAlbemarle area? Taxes and duplication of services = Money and inefficiencies. There are also cultural and political differences between the two localities that extend far beyond simple monetary conflicts.

For example:

In 2009, The City of Charlottesville voted 74% for Creigh Deeds and the County of Albemarle voted 49% for Mr. Deeds.
In 2008, The City of Charlottesville voted 78% for Barrack Obama and the County of Albemarle voted 58% for Mr. Obama.

If you’re interested in the annexation discussion, start at Charlottesville Tomorrow.

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