Sunday, January 29, 2012

Annexation History Drives Water Agreement

Charlottesville, Va. – How did the water, schools and city-county relations become entwined? There's an old saying: If you ignore a big truth long enough, it becomes your master. That truth is it's wrong to "annex" your neighbor and immoral to demand payment not to do something wrong. Annexation causes trouble whether it's Germany annexing Czechoslovakia, or Richmond annexing suburbs to affect local elections.

While Charlottesville thought they were getting a good deal, only 2 years into the agreement the City lost its legal "right to annex" because of the statewide moratorium. The County continued to buy this right in the belief the agreement is binding although its core provision evaporates, and under threat of most recent mayors Dave Norris and Satyendra Huja to begin annexation proceedings immediately if the extortion is not paid.

The Composite Index for state funding of local schools is the spark to the powder keg called revenue sharing. If the funding were allocated fairly and counted the latest $18 million as City income, the City would lose about $2.5 million, which County schools would gain. But the City would still have $16 extra million.

The Albemarle County school board has asked Delegate Rob Bell to carry a bill this session to reform the Composite Index to make the means testing more fair. The rhetoric from the City is harsh and accuses the County of trying to take money from City schools. The City is not arguing fairness.

How does this relate to the water? While many in the City have questioned why we're building new supply when the 2002 drought was an apparent hoax, others maintain the drought was real and more capacity is called for. Since annexation is an act of hate, we know the City government hates the County government. So the harsh rhetoric against the County is understandable.

Once you understand this dynamic, you begin to see a long list of hateful actions. The 13-foot compromise advocated by Dave Norris and Holly Edwards was hardly a compromise. According to a Jan. 2011 Daily Progress editorial, 60% of the water is above the 30-foot mark. The 30-foot compromise would have given 40% of the 2006 water plan. The 13-foot "compromise" much less.

The personal attacks and dishonesty of the water plan's critics were a low point in local history. Fortunately the City finally recognized they'd better be nice to the County or no more revenue sharing. Besides the more the County develops, the greater the property values, the more revenue is transferred to the City.

You see, greed can sometimes be a good thing. The agreement now benefits the County and is the oil that greases the palms that, after much protest, have approved the first new reservoir since 1966. Construction is expected to start in March 2012.

Revenue Sharing Summit: More city-county cooperation. Apr. 25, 2010.
The Composite Index for state funding of schools is proxy war for revenue sharing, now $18 million. City schools to lose $2.8 million if City revenue is accurately accounted for. Refutes Mar. 21, 2010 editorial by three former City Councilors who use their political stature to revise history.

A year later Councilor David Brown reports "We abandoned an opportunity to do something big [on city-county revenue sharing]." ( Council: No JPA bridge detour, No Belmont bridge repair, No art in historic zone. Apr. 5, 2011. )

1982 Revenue Sharing agreement published, Mar. 4, 2008. All 9 pages of the original agreement. The algebraic formula to compute the transfer payment deciphered from the word problem described in the agreement. List of first 26 annual payments.

2000 Revenue Sharing speech on video. Mar. 10, 2008. Includes speeches from 7 other candidates that year. Summary of Blair Hawkins’ campaign for City Council.

Slutzky: Revenue Sharing reform would be Declaration of War. Apr. 8, 2008. In case you don't see annexation as an act of war that it really is.

“Agreement fails in common sense” Nov. 16, 2011, The Daily Progress.

What is the 9-page city-county revenue sharing agreement? In 1982 Albemarle County agreed to purchase Charlottesville’s right to annex after a century of hostile annexations. But according to the front-page article (“County seeks to revisit measure,” Nov. 13, 2011, The Daily Progress), since the 1984 statewide moratorium on annexations, the City has had no right to annex. Yet the County has continued to pay for this nonexistent right.

To the non-politicians, this contract makes no sense. And the politicians, who have been petitioned repeatedly by common sense citizens, refuse the see the common sense. In the political universe, if you agree to buy something, you must continue to pay even when the seller stops providing the product as outlined in the contract.

As a resident and native of Charlottesville, I’ve written and spoken on this issue many times in great detail from many angles since abolition of revenue sharing was the main plank in my 2000 City Council campaign. I’m happy to see my message has gotten out to most people. Too bad the politicians aren’t listening.

Blair Hawkins
Charlottesville, Virginia

City-County joint venture Jefferson Madison Regional Library ("Post Office Sale Signed," Oct. 11, 1977, The Daily Progress)

1976 by the Albemarle County Historical Society, Albemarle, Jefferson’s County 1727-1976 by John Hammond Moore.

Historic day for water supply plan; City, countu officials give final approval. Jan 24, 2012. Charlottesville Tomorrow.

2011 Turning Point for 2006 Water Plan

Public Hearing on 125-year-old Water Plan. Sep. 19, 2010.

Why city & county can't cooperate on water plan. Dec. 14, 2010.

City to take over 2006 water plan. Jan 3, 2011.

Council wants 30-foot dam. Jan. 18, 2011.

Councilor Huja defends 30-foot dam. Jan. 22, 2011.

Council: Dueling dams, PUDs, dialogue on race, immigration. Feb. 8, 2011.

Council endorses 30-foot earthen dam, denies Ridge-Cherry. Feb. 23, 2011.

Earlier Water Links:

'Crying Drought' Fatigue, Mar. 9, 2009

"Rivanna Four Party Agreement 1972 to 2012", Feb. 15, 2009

"Ex-Councilors oppose their own water plan", Jun. 5, 2008

"Council approves water plan again", Jun. 2, 2008

“Dredging alternative at Citizens forum” May 5, 2008

"The emperor has no water" Hoax, Mar. 16, 2008

“2007: Year of the Non-Drought” Jan. 3, 2008

“50-year Water Plan for 76% more population: Ragged at same phase as Buck Mountain”, Sep. 18, 2007

“Rivanna uncomfortable using Buck Mountain land for Ragged Mountain plan” Nov. 2, 2006

“Council approves Ragged Mountain option: Water for another 50 years” Jun. 6, 2006. Includes Tom Frederick’s report to Council Feb. 7, 2005

Ragged Mountain southwest, Rivanna northeast, Green=29North, Yellow=250Bypass, Blue=I64, Red=Western Bypass, U=University Hall

RWSA-owned land acquired 1983 for possible futureBuck Mountain Reservoir near Free Union


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