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Samuel Miller District Supervisor Liz Palmer sends her first newsletter about her work on the Board of Supervisors.
This is the first in a series of occasional newsletters that I plan to send to keep folks up to date on recent and upcoming actions of the Board of Supervisors. I hope to keep them brief and relevant, and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read them. If you know someone whom you think may wish to receive these emails please forward this. On the other hand, if you’d rather not receive them you may unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link below.
First, here are some ways to keep in touch with me and the rest of the Board of Supervisors:
- Please note my new email address: lpalmer@Albemarle.org
- To send a message to all the Board of Supervisor members useBOS@Albemarle.org
- To get regular notices of meetings, sign up for A-Mail, the electronic newsletter from the County
As you may recall, I ran on these central issues: school excellence, natural resource protection and infrastructure maintenance, and transparency and citizen involvement in government. Much has happened in my first ten weeks on the board and I hope to report on transportation, the Comprehensive Plan, solid waste management, and rural internet service in subsequent newsletters.
Transparency and Citizen Involvement: I pledged to dedicate myself to maintaining the public trust by involving citizens in all important decisions.
Public Hearings and Town Hall Meetings: As the news media has reported, the Board has held several well-attended public hearings, and I’d like to thank all of you who took time to voice your opinions or to write to us and/or the media. Please mark your calendars for one more important upcoming public hearing at Lane Auditorium in the County Office Building:
- Tuesday evening April 8th at 6 pm on the proposed Tax Rate.
I will be holding three upcoming Town Hall Meetings for Samuel Miller Residents:
- Saturday morning March 22nd 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Yancey Elementary School.
- Monday evening March 24th 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Red Hill Elementary School.
- Tuesday evening March 25th 7:00 to 8:30 pm. at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School.
Eric Strucko, our District’s elected School Board representative, will attend each of these meetings to discuss the School budget, which as you may know is about 60% of our overall county budget. Representatives from the Police and Fire and Rescue Departments will be available to address questions about their services.
Please plan to attend!
On the Road: I have been visiting with PTOs and a variety of interest groups and organizations. Each meeting has been valuable to me. Please let me know if you’d like me to attend your group’s meeting.
Internet Streaming of Board Meetings: I have been working to implement live video streaming of Board meetings just as many other localities do, but I’ll need public support to make that happen. Audio streaming is available during meetings, and podcasts are available a few days after each meeting. I’m arguing that we need video streaming to more fully engage the public, so feel free to speak up on that issue at a board meeting or in an email to the Board.
The Budget, the Tax Rate, and Schools: Our most immediate concern is setting the tax rate at a level that will ensure our ability to responsibly fund our schools, public safety, and other county services. In early February the County Executive released the proposed 2015 county budget to the Board of Supervisors at the same time it was released to the public. The County Executive’s proposed budget reflected choices of the previous Board. The proposed budget included a 1.7 cent tax hike, which would bring the rate from the current 76.6 cents up to 78.3. Most of that increase — 1.3 of the 1.7 cents – was required just to cover unfunded mandates handed down from the state: increased local contributions to the Virginia Retirement System, and funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by controlling storm water runoff into our rivers and streams. The remaining 0.4 cents was to shore up our general government and capital improvements fund. The proposed budget would have only funded 60% of this year’s capital improvement projects and would have left the schools with $5.8 million less than their budget request.
The Board then held a series of work sessions and a well-attended public hearing (where speakers were supportive, by about a 5:1 margin, of increasing taxes to fund our schools). It was also noted that our tax rate is relatively low compared to similar localities in Virginia. After some back-and-forth, we voted to advertise a tax rate that marked the highest rate the Board was willing to bring to the public for discussion. This was a 4.2 cent increase to 80.8 cents, which is 2.5 cents higher than the county executive’s proposal. The majority of this increase would go to the schools. If adopted, this new rate would help ease our schools’ budget gap but would still leave them with $2.4 million less than their budget request.
The Supervisors do not have line item veto over the school budget. We appropriate the total amount the schools will operate on for the coming year, but the school board decides how to spend the money. The School Board has not given the Board of Supervisors a prioritized list of what they would cut, but they have given us a list of possibilities. At the top of this list is the potential for teacher layoffs with subsequent increase in class size. Because of the recession, the last few years have already seen significant cuts in staff positions and important support services. Possible cuts on the table also include a proposed 2% salary raise for county and school employees.
What does this mean to you? For a person with a $300,000 home, the tax bill would go up $126 per year at the advertised rate. This does not include increases or decreases in this year’s property assessments. The average Samuel Miller home assessment is up 1.58%, but the range is wide.
On April 15th the board of Supervisors will need to decide on a tax rate. It’s a tough call. No one likes paying taxes, but we know there’s no free lunch. We have a growing county with growing demand for services. I’ve heard from a number of citizens in our community who find it difficult to make ends meet given current expenses and income, and for whom a tax hike would be burdensome. Others ask to have their taxes increased. They can afford the increase and feel that good schools and other services raise property values and benefit everyone.
If you’ve contacted me already – thanks again. If you haven’t, please consider coming to a town hall meeting and to the public hearing on April 8. And thank you again for giving me this opportunity to serve our county.
Come January 1st, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will have both a Democratic majority and and a female majority.
The newest members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors have now been sworn in.
Liz Palmer, Brad Sheffield, and Diantha McKeel all took their oaths of office on Thursday afternoon.
They join Jane Dittmar on the board, which the democrats now control for the first time since 2011.
School Board members were also sworn in on Thursday, including new school board member Kate Acuff.
Congrats to our new elected officials!
At our nominating caucus last week, we nominated Liz Palmer and Brad Sheffield to be our nominees for the Board of Supervisors. Check out the Newsplex coverage below and check out the candidates web sites to learn more about them and how to help their campaigns.
Check out yesterday’s coverage from Brad Sheffield’s announcement for the Board of Supervisors.
From the Daily Progress:
“It’s all about moving forward in small, incremental steps,” Sheffield said outside the Albemarle County Office Building on Tuesday. “And those small steps add up to that bigger vision that we’ve created that ultimately moves us forward.”
“I’ve decided to run because I really do believe that when we make decisions for Albemarle County, we need to be making decisions that leave a legacy for our future generations,” Sheffield said. “We need to make sure we’re putting together those plans and making common-sense decisions that prepare us for the opportunities.”
“The self-described “planning nerd” offered his experience as what best qualifies him for the Board of Supervisors. Sheffield is an assistant director at JAUNT and has undergrad and master’s degrees in planning from UVA.”
“Sheffield says his platform will also focus on workforce development and public education. He is running against Republican incumbent Rodney Thomas.”
“I’ve spent the last 14 years developing the skills that allow me to understand what the county is going to face and how to make certain decisions,” Sheffield said.
Brad Sheffield will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Board of Supervisors from the Rio District on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, at 12 PM at the McIntire County Office Building.
Find out more about Brad at his web site.
Check out recent news coverage about Liz Palmer‘s announcement for the Samuel Miller district seat on the Board of Supervisors:
“Palmer’s campaign will focus on protecting the area’s resources, as well as supporting the schools.”
“I have experience working with environmental groups, the business community, and county and city government to realize large projects that take years to build,” Palmer said. “
“Plans for growth and school size don’t really match up. Their children are learning in trailers or they’re concerned they might not be able to take the necessary courses for college admissions,” said Palmer.”
“Albemarle County needs thoughtful, engaged leaders to share information and encourage public participation before decisions are made,” Palmer said in a news release on her website. “Effective supervisors must seek feedback and then follow through with quality, long-term decisions.”
“Through my experience in local government I have gotten a lot of knowledge about how government really works, how to engage the public, how to effectively address their concerns, making sure that they’re brought into the process early so we don’t have any surprises or midnight votes,” Palmer said Thursday.”
Find out more about Palmer’s campaign at http://lizpalmerforsupervisor.com/.
Liz Palmer will announce her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Board of Supervisors from the Samuel Miller District on Thursday, April 11, 2013, at 12 PM at the McIntire County Office Building.
Find out more about Liz Palmer.
Thank you for your confidence to send me back for a second term representing the White Hall district. You are vitally important to success, by sharing your insights about problems and solutions in our community.
Unlike some radio hosts, I believe “Community” is a good word, conveying a sense of caring about neighbors, local business success, our children’s futures and the protection of the environment which helps us to lead healthy lives. None of us is alone on an island; we are all connected to sink or succeed together.
Beginning Tuesday, March 13, I will host three citizens’ town halls.Police Dept officers and school board members will be in attendance. In addition to the budget details, I ask for feedback on any other issues of interest. I will gather topics every 30 minutes to prevent leaving issues unaddressed. Please join me at an upcoming meeting:
- Tuesday, March 13. Town Hall with Pam Moynihan. Broadus Wood cafeteria. 7 pm.
- Saturday, March 17. 1 pm. Town Hall with Steve Koleszar at White Hall community Center.
- Monday, March 19. 7 pm at the Meadows, Crozet Ave. Town Hall with Eric Strucko and Ned Gallaway.
We will discuss the timetable for ordinance changes for rural area businesses such as bed-and-breakfast rooms in outbuildings and food service at farms, as well as changes to county process to “fast-track” applications to help our economic recovery.
There are many other questions. What are your thoughts on cost-recovery billing to insurance companies only for ambulance transport? Should changes be made to ordinances currently allowing burning of household trash in our backyards? Are you concerned about drug use in the school-age population?
Updates will also be provided about upcoming VDOT projects in the White Hall District.
Actions of the General Assembly as the session ends will affect the local budget. State government has passed us the bill to restore funding to the state retirement system by requiring an additional $1.4 M each year from Albemarle County. Sad the Governor did not repay the loan he took from the retirement system, calling it “surplus” and handing out bonuses to state employees.
General reductions in funding for schools, for mental health services as patients are returned to their communities, for maintenance of roads unless matched 50/50 by local funds, and cuts in funding for commonwealth’s attorney, sheriff, and jail budgets will hamper our ability to fund our local future. It is unknown today what the Governor will do as the bills pass and come across his desk.
What is known is that we all can work together. Many of you help me to be well informed about issues of particular interest to you. We will continue to work together to fund the completion of the Historic District application and the furnishings to the Western Albemarle Crozet library.
Thank you all for your assistance.
Read more at Supervisor Mallek’s web site.
White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek will host three town halls for constituents in the coming weeks:
- Tuesday, March 13th, at 7 PM, at Broadus Wood Elementary School
- Saturday, March 17th, at 1 PM, at the White Hall Community Center
- Monday, March 19th, at 7 PM, at Crozet Meadows.
According to the Daily Progress:
Mallek is asking for feedback on the county budget and any other issues residents are concerned about. According to a news release, Mallek will gather topics at the start of each meeting.
You can find out more about Supervisor Mallek at her web site.