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Commonwealth's Counties

VACo Kicks Off Regional Meetings In Prince George County

Thank you Senator Lashrecse Aird (pictured), Delegate Carrie Coyner, Delegate Kim Taylor and Delegate Otto Wachsmann for participating in the Regions 1 & 4 Meeting. 

VACo staff is back on the road this year visiting counties among the 13 VACo regions defined across the Commonwealth. VACo will hold eight regional meetings this year, five in person and three virtually.  The first regional meeting was held on May 3 in Prince George County, where counties from VACo regions 1 and 4 met at the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing. Region 1 encompasses the counties of Accomack, Charles City, Isle of Wight, New Kent, Northampton, Prince George, Southampton, Surry and Sussex, while Region 4 contains the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Charlotte, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward.  These regional meetings allow VACo staff to hear directly from county staff and elected officials on the important issues facing localities across Virginia. They also help VACo staff craft the legislative program for the upcoming 2025 legislative session.

VACo was pleased to be joined by Senator Lashrecse Aird, Delegate Carrie Coyner, Delegate Kim Taylor and Delegate Otto Wachsmann, as well as Senator Emily Jordan’s Chief of Staff.  The meeting began with legislators who represent the regions speaking about their priorities and insights about the region they represent.  Senator Aird began by reiterating the importance of a timely resolution of the budget process as this funding would be crucial for all localities, especially more rural ones as local governments are discussing their budgets.  Top priorities for the Senator include mental health funding and access, healthcare costs generally, and supporting economic development so business in the Commonwealth can retain workers as well as attract business from out of state.  Delegate Coyner focused primarily on education issues and touted some recent successes in legislation she carried, notably HB 1087 and HB 1089,  which relate to dual enrollment and special education, and were signed into law this year.  Delegate Taylor spoke about how her district is primarily rural and how she is always focused on issues that affect rural localities.  Delegate Wachmann would close out the legislators’ discussion segment with issues he is focusing on, such as rural healthcare, correctional facility funding, and acquiring funding to compensate localities that house state prisons for their costs involved in providing public safety and other services to these facilities.

After the legislators discussed their thoughts, representatives from each county outlined the top issues or legislative priorities in their locality.  Several issues emerged as common areas of concern, including local authority, school funding, jail operations, transportation and workforce and economic development.  Local authority, like at most VACo meetings, was a major discussion topic.  Emphasizing local authority for land use decisions including housing, short term rentals and solar siting is and has always been a priority for VACo.  VACo staff reaffirmed this commitment during the meeting while listening to why county leaders find this authority so important to county governance. School funding was discussed often and many of the counties in attendance relayed their continued support for sufficient funding and the option for more funding streams that would help localities address inadequate school facilities like the legislation that would have expanded the authority to impose an additional sales tax after approval in a referendum, which passed the General Assembly this year, but was vetoed.  County leaders broadly hope to see per diem jail rates raised, and discussed how transportation needs outweigh available resources, especially on primary and secondary roads.  Lastly, while the regions have touted recent economic successes there is always room for improvement. Localities in the regions hope there will be more state support for economic development in the region, as well as further workforce development initiatives, possibly through community college and skills training programs.

VACo is grateful to the regional members, General Assembly representatives, and business partners who participated in the meeting. VACo would like especially to thank Prince George County and the staff at the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing for discussing and sharing their wonderful facility with us.

VACo Contact: James Hutzler

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