Albemarle County’s main priority for the 2020 state legislative session is to be able to provide in-kind resources to volunteer firefighting and emergency service providers.

The county’s Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approved its proposed 2020 legislative priorities, which include a main priority, conditional priorities, items to pursue as a statewide or regional initiative in 2020 or later and topics to not pursue now.

County Attorney Greg Kamptner said this was the last of four discussions on the priorities for this session.

The top priority for the board is to initiate or support legislation to amend the state code to enable localities to provide in-kind resources to volunteer firefighting and emergency service providers. Currently, localities are not permitted to provide in-kind resources except when the donation is for an “event” sponsored by the donee.

If the General Assembly’s committee membership “materially changes,” the board would pursue legislation allowing local control over monuments and memorials for war veterans and legislation prohibiting the carrying of specified loaded weapons in public areas.

Supervisor Rick Randolph asked what “pursue” meant in this case, as he didn’t want to see “any way to slack in our commitment, either perceived or real, to having this law changed” regarding weapons in public areas.

“I don’t want us to do a full-court press in pursuit of the legislation, but I certainly hope ‘pursue’ doesn’t mean we wouldn’t sign on as a county to legislation that would be proposed, regardless of what happens in the General Assembly,” he said.

David Blount, with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, said he agreed with Randolph.

“I think the reality is, though, as you know, unless there is that material change, such legislation will not advance,” he said.

Blount said he would describe “pursue” as — if in November there is a change in party control of the General Assembly — there’s a discussion with the legislators representing Albemarle about whether they would initiate legislation or work with others on the topic.

Priorities to pursue as a statewide initiative include legislation around increasing the minimum tree canopy preserved during development, documenting historic structures prior to demolition, equal taxing authority for counties and impact fees.

The county will wait to pursue legislation around civil penalties for open burning violations, extending the eligibility of antique motor vehicle status from 25 to 30 years and recycling reporting.

The board is scheduled to meet with state elected officials in September to discuss the priorities.

v v v

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors also approved two leases for office space for the Office of Economic Development and the finance department outside of county-owned buildings.

The board is scheduled to approve appropriations for the leases at its Aug. 21 meeting.

The Office of Economic Development will be located at 110 Old Preston Ave., and about 10 employees from the finance department will be at 400 Preston Ave. Both sites are within Charlottesville city limits.

According to staff reports, a study on space needs has been initiated to analyze and document long-term needs of the county, but there is a current need for additional space.

Moving the Office of Economic Development will give that office more square footage but also will help with space for the county executive department, which recently created the Project Management Office and the Office of Equity and Inclusion under its wing. The Office of Communications and Public Engagement also recently filled two vacant positions.{div}Once the Office of Economic Development moves, that space will be utilized by the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and the Office of Communications and Public Engagement then will have its needed space.

This year’s total price tag for the lease, operating costs and one-time costs is $124,148, and also includes costs for six parking spaces, which are not included in the lease.

The finance department has about 64 employees and almost all work in the County Office Building on McIntire Road. Between fiscal years 2014 and 2019, the department gained an additional eight positions, and three new positions were added this year, but there was not an increase in workspace.

It’s not known yet which staff members would move to the leased space, which is across the street from the county’s McIntire Road office building.

The total FY20 price tag for this lease, operating costs and one-time costs is $110,512. The lease includes seven parking spaces.

The existing capital budget will provide $30,000 toward the costs for the Office of Economic Development. Additional money will come from the budget surplus.

County staff said finance has not yet completed its unaudited preliminary close of FY19, so they did not yet have a figure to provide for the end of FY19 surplus.

“Based on the FY19 third quarter financial report provided to the board in May, staff is confident there will be sufficient available fund balance to cover the expenses outlined in the executive summary,” county spokeswoman Emily Kilroy said in an email.

The initial terms of the proposed leases would start Sept. 1 and end June 30, 2021, with options to renew for additional one-year terms.

Join our Mailing List

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Recommended for you

Load comments