Monday, March 07, 2011

Council spends almost $1 million off-budget, debuts budget process

“When someone flushes their toilet in Forest Lakes, we don’t want to smell it [in Woolen Mills]” – Allison Euring.

Charlottesville, Va. – In a single vote, Council spent $926,419.45 in nine appropriations. In the 254-page Council Agenda with background, you can see the documents submitted with each request to justify the public expenditure.

That one super vote also passed five resolutions, four ordinances, and approved the Feb. 22 Minutes. The consent agenda is so sketchy, it only requires one Councilor to request an item be removed, and force the item to be actually read, discussed, and voted on as a single object. Normally it takes a minimum of two votes (a motion and a second) to continue an item or force an item to a vote, and of course, three votes to pass the item.

But the removed item is heard at the end of the meeting, not the beginning where it would have passed as part of the consent agenda. Lumping unrelated bills together to speed up the process is understandable. The problem is that government has grown so big that it’s impossible to vote on every action with equal process and opportunity for deliberation.

Councilor Edwards said she will vote no on Item R since she has opposed the Longwood Drive development. She also commented on Item O “CRHA/City Council MOU (1st of 1 reading).” The memo was not read. It’s the non-specific agreement between Council and its urban renewal agency. The memo perpetuates well-documented myths while Edwards has been unsuccessful in getting the full Housing Authority archives released and published. Edwards also voted for the memo containing the discrepancies.("Latest Archive Request on WINA", Feb. 12, 2009.)

At the Feb. 7 meeting, Councilor Kristin Szakos requested the immigration resolution be read aloud so people would know the opinion of Council. The resolution opposed ten so-called anti-immigrant laws pending in the state General Assembly.

Tonight Edwards did not ask for the memo of understanding to be read. Councilor Edwards also questioned Item S “Sale of Land to Southern Development (2nd of 2 readings). Apparently it's for only one parcel, while the other parcel is to be gifted to Habitat for Humanity.

In public comment, Paul Cooke of the adjacent Burnett Commons at Elliott near Ridge Street was opposed to the sale and complained that adjacent properties had not been notified of the proposed sale. Cooke was “perplexed at the lack of transparency.” He said Southern Development should consider the opposite corner for development – the Ridge-Cherry property whose development Council disapproved two weeks ago. The developer changed plans approved in 2009 and Council insists the 2009 plan be built.

So Edwards wanted clarification. Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert said he spoke at a Burnett Neighborhood Association meeting and conceded the lack of communication and promised to do better. He said there were concerns about the sewer line and city woult plant grass to stabilize erosion.

Finally all 19 items of the consent agenda were passed. David Brown made the motion, Szakos seconded. The silent electronic vote. Then Mayor Dave Norris declared the vote unanimous although Edwards voted no on Longwood Drive. And Councilor Satyendra Huja abstained due to being absent.

The 20th item on the agenda was the school board’s 2012 budget. This school budget background was the only one missing from the 254-page agenda. I couldn’t make sense of the presentation and have lost trust in this body. I don’t believe anything they say. Much of the report was statistics with actual numbers not given. Dropout rate is down from 17.8% in 2008 but most recently 6.8%. Really? More made up numbers?

In the next item, new City Manager Maurice Jones presented the $142.9 million City budget for 2012. He basically read the report in the agenda. He did not say how tonight’s nearly $1 million spending spree is funded. Is it from the $3.5 million surplus Jennifer McKeever talked about at the last meeting, when she asked $1.5 million of that be moved to Charlottesville Housing Fund? More magic money?

In other matters, several residents of the Woolen Mills neighborhood spoke on the proposed, expanded Rivanna Pumping Station to increase waste water treatment capacity. Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority was created around 1972 with its main focus dealing with sewage. The solution to Crozet dumping its treated sewage upstream from the Rivanna Reservoir was to pump the waste to one central station at the eastern edge of town and discharge downstream.

Allison Euring said Option A, one of the four being considered, was too large-scale for the entrance to Riverview Park and nearby houses and buildings. She asked people to stand if they were from Woolen Mills and continue standing if they oppose Concept A. Those concerned about sewage packed the meeting.

“When someone flushes their toilet in Forest Lakes, we don’t want to smell it,” said Euring. She said they’ve been living with “broken promises” of “no smells, no noise” since the 1970s.

Robin Haynes presented a 124-signature petition to oppose Rivanna Pump Station Option A. To the councilors, she said the proposals should set off “alarms in your consciences." The smell has dissipated since human waste composting was halted there, which the neighborhood “crusaded” against.

The issue of signage on side streets downtown came up again. Jacklyn Dunkle, owner of Fellini’s #9 with a Mardis Gras Party tomorrow night, said the “signs are just not ample.” She complained a city map sign on Market Street was blocking her sign.

Siblings Joanna and Stratton Salidis talked about the water. Stratton said the 2004 water demand analysis has over-projected by 26%. If you extrapolate this error out 50 years, the error would be more than 200%, meaning the 45-foot dam of the 2006 plan would supply more than twice the water we would actually need.

The noise ordinance came up when Peter Markish played his violin and asked whether this decibel would be legal on the Downtown Mall, because a policeman says it’s not. “If illegal, should it be?” Why did no one answer his Feb. 21 letter?

In Council comment following the Public comment, Mayor Norris apologized for not answering the letter and promised to look into the noise ordinance again.

I turned off the meeting at 9 p.m. to write this article. The city budget report was underway. As always, if I misspell your name, let me know so we can get it right. If you disagree with a fact or opinion (what’s the difference?), feel free to leave a comment.

Previous Blair's Blog Council Report Feb 22, 2011.

City of Charlottesville Streaming Live and Archive Media

City Council Agenda Mar. 7, 2011 with background materials.


6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Closed session as provided by Section 2.2-3712 of the Virginia Code
(Second Floor Conference Room)


AWARDS/RECOGNITIONS MS Awareness Proclamation; THE BIG READ; Festival of the Book; StoryFest (Cat in the Hat Proclamation); GFOA Budget Award


MATTERS BY THE PUBLIC Public comment will be permitted until 7:35 p.m. (limit of 3 minutes per speaker) and at the end of the meeting on any item, including items on the agenda, provided that a public hearing is not planned or has not previously been held on the matter. Persons are asked to sign up in advance of the start of the meeting.


1. CONSENT AGENDA* (Items removed from the consent agenda will be considered at the end of the regular agenda.)

a. Minutes of February 22
b. APPROPRIATION: $3,177 – 2010 State Homeland Security Program Grant 3 (2nd of 2 readings)
c. APPROPRIATION: $18,362 – 2011 Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) (2nd of 2 readings)
d. APPROPRIATION: $2,500 – Charlottesville Newsplex Scholarship Program (2nd of 2 readings)
e. APPROPRIATION: $382,090 – Highway Safety Improvement Program (2nd of 2 readings)
f. APPROPRIATION: $102,576 – Aid & Localities Fire Disbursement Fund (2nd of 2 readings)
g. APPROPRIATION: $122,398 – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Grant Funds (2nd of 2 readings)
h. APPROPRIATION: $250,000 – Charlottesville City Schools - Appropriation of Capital Improvement
Program Large Cap Supplemental Contribution (1st of 2 readings)
i. APPROPRIATION: $980.45 – State Assistance for Spay and Neuter Program at SPCA (1st of 1 reading)
j. APPROPRIATION: $44,336 – Domestic Violence Services Coordinator Grant (1st of 2 readings)
k. RESOLUTION: New Sidewalk Prioritization Process (1st of 1 reading)
l. RESOLUTION: Entrance Corridor Design Guidelines (1st of 1 reading)
m. RESOLUTION: Amend SUP for 207 14th St NW (1st of 1 reading)
n. RESOLUTION: License Agreement with Qwest Communications (1st of 1 reading)
o. RESOLUTION: CRHA/City Council MOU (1st of 1 reading)
p. ORDINANCE: Changes to Café Ordinances (2nd of 2 readings)
q. ORDINANCE: FiberLight Agreement (2nd of 2 readings)
r. ORDINANCE: Longwood Park PUD – Exchange of Land (2nd of 2 readings)
s. ORDINANCE: Sale of Land to Southern Development (2nd of 2 readings)

2. REPORT: School Board’s Proposed FY 2012 Budget

3. REPORT: City Manager’s Proposed FY 2012 Budget

4. REPORT: Rivanna Pumping Station

5. REPORT: Social Services Advisory Board Annual Report to Council

6. APPEAL:* Board of Architectural Review Decision re: 1328 Riverdale Drive – Renewal of
Demolition Request (1st of 1 reading)

7. REPORT: Old Lynchburg Road Design Update


Reasonable accommodations will be provided for persons with disabilities upon request

City Council Agenda Mar. 7, 2011 with background materials. Includes the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the City of Charlottesville, Virginia. The urban renewal agency is a city department created 1954. The two biggest projects were Vinegar Hill resulting in 124-unit Westhaven public housing opened 1964 and Garrett Street resulting in 150-unit Garrett Square / Friendship Court public housing opened 1979, Crescent Halls 1976, S. First with 58 units, and 6th SE with 25 units.

The myth is that Vinegar Hill is the complete story of urban renewal in Charlottesville.


Anonymous The_BlueSpade said...

"Siblings Joanna and Stratton Salidis talked about the water. Stratton said the 2004 water demand analysis has over-projected by 26%. If you extrapolate this error out 50 years, the error would be more than 200%"

You've heard of the "Butterfly Effect?" This here is a display of the "Stratton Effect."

Over-projected?!! Listen this is a criticism coming from "sustainability" proponents, being directed towards(both)RSWA and City Council to EFFECTIVELY PROJECT MUCH OF ANYTHING, LET ALONE OUT A 200% ERROR. Yet, the rest of us are left wondering, why these municipal bodies fail to exercise any potential foresight between annual budgets.

What attempt was there to exercise any kind of extrapolation? Hell, the regular citizens have a difficult time enough getting the water extrapolated today!!!

What we'll likely be wondering fifty years from now is what happened to the water from the tap?
I'm sure the same local enviromentalists, bunker survivalists and the Strattons will still have all the answers.

3/17/2011 10:49 AM  

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