Regions 5 and 7 Discuss Housing, Solar, Workforce, and More in Fluvanna County
Fluvanna County hosted representatives of VACo Regions 5 and 7 on July 12 for a robust discussion of regional priorities, including updates from Delegate Sally Hudson and Delegate Tara Durant on top issues in the General Assembly and opportunities to collaborate with local governments. Fluvanna County Vice Chair Tony O’Brien welcomed attendees, and VACo President Meg Bohmke extended a special welcome to newly-elected Supervisors, noting VACo’s work to build relationships with the new Administration and its long tradition of nonpartisan work on behalf of counties.
During a roundtable discussion, county representatives shared issues of concern in their communities. Issues raised included the continued need for infrastructure investment, such as funding for broadband, water, and sewer projects; challenges associated with the Children’s Services Act and limitations on using CSA funds to serve children in the public school setting; the need for a stronger partnership with the state in funding K-12 education; and the importance of restoring the distribution of recordation tax revenues to localities outside of Northern Virginia that existed prior to 2020.
Delegate Sally Hudson and Delegate Tara Durant discussed priority issues they are pursuing in advance of the next legislative session; addressing the shortage of school bus drivers is a shared concern. Delegate Hudson expressed her interest in providing localities with additional flexibility to address housing affordability, as well as in improving data collection on power outages. Delegate Durant discussed recent regional discussions on affordable housing, and noted that she is examining models from other states in addressing learning loss resulting from the pandemic.
Discussion ensued among attendees and the legislators, including further conversation regarding bus driver shortages and broader workforce needs and affordable housing. Attendees discussed the intersection of housing affordability and local revenue options and its connection with state funding and mandates on local government, and the need for workforce housing and walkable communities to meet residents’ quality of life concerns.
Joe Lerch concluded the meeting with a brief presentation on issues related to solar and related alternative energy sources. Legislation introduced at VACo’s request and passed in 2022 requires the State Corporation Commission to examine the life cycle of solar and wind energy devices, including battery storage. Another bill requires the Virginia Cooperative Extension to map prime agricultural soils and forestlands in order to assist with siting large solar installations. Virginia Cooperative Extension has also been directed to work with utilities to review capacity within the electric grid.
VACo thanks the county representatives, legislators, and business partners who participated in the meeting, and extends its special appreciation to Fluvanna County and to Cunningham Creek Winery for hosting the event.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle