By Penny Gross
Shortly after the House and Senate unveiled their budgets on February 8, VACo staff identified several key initiatives that impact county governments.
The first initiative the Legislative Team zeroed in on was Local Aid to the Commonwealth – a $30 million mandate placed on localities. Elimination of this reversion account is one of my top legislative priorities for VACo.
A little over two years ago, VACo working with counties and VML, helped save localities millions of dollars by advocating for the elimination of this reversion account. If you recall, since 2009, localities have had to cut state-funded programs or write a check to the Commonwealth to satisfy this mandate. The state general fund enjoyed a $60 million return until the General Assembly cut that figure to $50 million in FY 2013 and $45 million in FY 2014.
With the $10 million saved in FY 2013 and the $45 million repealed in FY 2014, VACo’s county leaders saved its communities and citizens $55 million. This result represented the power of our advocacy.
However, state leaders brought back Local Aid to the Commonwealth to the tune of $30 million when the revenue outlook was bleaker. It’s time again to convince our lawmakers that this is too steep a burden to place on localities, especially with the updated outlook that has given the state more flexibility.
VACo continues to advocate to repeal the mandate. I hope you will participate in the process when we call for your help. Together we can do it again and eliminate Local Aid to the Commonwealth.