The Commission convened a regular meeting Tuesday, March 13 to provide a legislative update for the 2018 General Assembly Session, updates on the Fiscal Stress Report and Annexation Alternatives Study, act on state and federal local government mandate assessments, and discuss the Governor’s Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review.
The Commission reviewed 365 bills, 111 of which were referred for fiscal impact analysis. Volunteers assisting in the analysis included 12 counties, 12 cities, seven professional organizations, and five towns. For each bill deemed in need of such analysis, the Commission provides 72 hours for its volunteers to respond. Bills that garnered the most attention from reviewers included: HB 224 (Krizek) requiring seatbelts in every seat of public school buses, HB 1258 (Kilgore)/SB 405 (McDougle) regarding wireless zoning, HB 1406 (Pogge) providing cost recovery for towing operators, and SB 751 (Sturtevant) publicizing expenses for localities and schools. Of those bills, both wireless bills passed. Additional bills of interest covered economic development, equal taxing authority, local authority for zoning (including proffers), mulch fire hazard, school discipline, and raising the felony larceny threshold. The Commission discussed a potential training session for volunteers to include expectations and review of processes.
According to the Commission, there is a difference of $843 million in the House and Senate versions of the budget, which will be addressed at the Special Session Governor Northam called for April 11. Commission staff noted that this month-long delay may make the local budget adoption process more difficult.
Updates to the Fiscal Stress Report now include the City of Hopewell’s information. The update did not change its 10th place ranking. Ali Akbor, a Commission staffer, along with a representative from the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts, attended a local fiscal stress conference in Michigan. Based on that visit, the Commission will host a local fiscal stress plenary session with a panel including Administrator Conmy, Jim Regimbal, Director of Community and Economic Development Ken Heath with the Town of Marion, and a federal representative. The Commission expects to provide an updated report in July. There are upcoming meetings for the Annexation Alternatives Study potentially set for June, July, and September.
The Commission approved the state and federal mandates report.
The Governor’s Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review, established under the McDonnell Administration and continued under the McAuliffe Administration, will expire July 1, 2018, pursuant to § 15.2-2903 of the Code of Virginia.
Other news highlighted by Commission staff included: Director Erik Johnston and Administrator Conmy’s attendance at the VACo County Chairs Institute; local news regarding boundary line changes; an amendment made to the ’99 settlement between Front Royal and Warren; and, discussion in the media about the benefits of consolidation of small units of government.
VACo Contact: Khaki LaRiviere