Beginning the budget process for the coming fiscal year, Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors on Friday heard from county staff members about ongoing projects that could be carried over from the county’s current two-year strategic plan, as well as new possible priorities.
During a four-hour-long work session, board members gave input on their high, medium and low priorities for the FY20-22 strategic plan and are scheduled to receive a draft of the plan in October and a final plan in November.
“Before our long-range planning and our budgeting process gets underway, it’s very helpful if we understand the vision and the strategies with which we’re moving forward,” said Kristy Shifflett, director of the county’s project management office. “That’s one reason why we’re aiming for November for us to finalize this, so we have something to guide us as we make these choices moving forward.”
Priorities that were recommended to continue from the previous two-year plan were the redevelopment of the area around the Rio Road-U.S. 29 intersection, strategies to revitalize aging urban neighborhoods and expanding and making updates to the county’s courts.
Supervisors have been discussing courts renovations for years, and whether the facilities should be moved out of downtown Charlottesville.
At the end of 2017, the board passed a resolution in part directing staff to resume negotiations with the city on ownership and control of the parking lot at Seventh and Market streets, as well as other related issues. It also said land-use valuation should be recognized in the revenue-sharing agreement formula between Albemarle and Charlottesville.
“Assuming direction will be provided this fall, we would proceed with a request for proposal for design services,” Assistant County Executive Trevor Henry said.
Board Chairwoman Ann H. Mallek asked if the county still has previously designed conceptual plans for upgrading and expanding the building, if the board chose to stay downtown, and if those would be the basis for renovations.
“We’re not starting from scratch, we’re starting from a really good conceptual starting place, but there’s a lot of work to do to get us from that point to the actual [plan],” Henry said.
He said it would be a five-year effort.
“We’re just proposing to continue this forward as an important initiative for the county,” he said.
The board also discussed broadband, the county’s Economic Development Program, water resources infrastructure planning and school space needs as topics that could rise in priority level over the next two years.
“We’re bringing these specific ones forward today because we feel like they have taken either a larger role in our planning efforts or they’ve [risen] to a higher level because of your interest or your energy and the community’s interest,” Shifflett said.
In April, the board decided to fund the county’s water resources program out of the general fund instead of through a stormwater utility fee. The FY19 budget includes one-time funding for some drainage infrastructure projects and watershed restoration, but no funding is currently included in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan for FY20.
“We want to propose to use fiscal year ’20 to also be a bridge year between some sort of where we are now and a more permanent funding solution to the water resources programs,” said Greg Harper, chief of environmental services for the county.
Staff had flagged five areas — parks, a Climate Action Plan, affordable housing, solid waste and tourism — as “emerging initiatives” that the supervisors have discussed over the past two years that they may want to consider making priorities in the updated plan.
The county has been working on a master plan for the future Biscuit Run Park and recently completed a parks and recreations needs assessment.
The assessment showed that, by national standards, the county is deficient by 172 neighborhood and community park acres, and will need to develop and add a total of 264 acres of neighborhood and community parks to the system by the year 2032 to keep up with projected population growth and standards.
“We all realize the county is in the trend of moving more toward an urban community, and these efforts have been identified and is one of the strategic initiatives for parks and rec to start looking at and exploring those opportunities,” Albemarle’s parks and recreation director, Bob Crickenberger, said.
At Friday’s meeting, supervisors did an activity in which they put dots on poster boards that represented possible priorities. County Executive Jeff Richardson said the board members, while placing the dots, should consider what best promotes the community’s future and what are the critical issues that the community must confront.
“When we come back next month ... we’ll be able to show you where the top priorities have landed, medium and low,” he said.
In the dot activity, all board members present (Supervisor Norman Dill was absent) put dots on revitalizing aging urban neighborhoods, infrastructure planning and expanding and promoting parks and recreation amenities.
Parks and recreation amenities received three high-priority dots, while expanding broadband, school space needs and developing an economic development program each received two high-priority dots.
Work on a regional convention center received no dots.