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City Council adopts budget for FY2009

The Charlottesville City Council has adopted a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2008. The real property tax rate for homeowners will continue to be $ per $100 of assessed value.


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Council’s action came during a special meeting held in a crowded second floor conference room in City Hall, rather than Council Chambers. Councilors acted on three motions: to adopt the tax rate, the budget, and a motion reaffirming the City’s commitment to the Personal Property Tax Relief Act of 1998.  The meeting lasted just under six minutes.

Council more or less adopted City Manager Gary O’Connell’s $140,992,521 operating budget, with only minor changes made throughout the budget review process.

Council’s amendments can be read in the budget resolution

.

Most notably, Council reallocated $75,000 from the City-County Revenue Sharing fund to the operating budget from the Capital Improvement Program fund to pay for various outside agencies that were originally not funded in the FY2009 operating budget. That includes a $29,275 increase in spending to cover a Council-requested increase in the Homeowners Tax Grant program.


Other programs that received last-minute funding:

$2,600 – Children, Youth and Family Services – Real Dads Program

$7,500 – African American Teaching Fellows

$8,960 – Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District

$10,000 – Streamwatch

$1,661 – JABA/Mountainside Assisted Living

Another change was the decision to reserve $125,000 in the budget’s capital fund contingency account to pay for a proposed Energy Conservation Grant / Loan Program. The idea was introduced by Councilor Satyendra Huja at Council’s April 7 public hearing, when the budget was officially read for the first time.  The program would provide incentives for low-income homeowners to install energy efficient heating and cooling systems.  It has not yet been reviewed by the Council’s Citizens’ Commission on Environmental Sustainability.

Councilor

David Brown

said this year’s budget process went smoothly, and thanked Mayor

Dave Norris

for his work in shepherding the process. Councilor

Holly Edwards

, serving in her first term, said the process was overwhelming, but that she would be prepared for next year’s budget cycle.


“How we spend our money really does make a moral statement about what’s important to us,” Edwards said.

Huja said he appreciated the input from citizens. Councilor

Julian Taliaferro

thanked staff for their work in coming up with what he called “a good budget.”

“No budget is going to please 100% of the people 100% of the time, and I’d venture that none of us around this table are 100% pleased with everything in this budget, but it’s a process of working through different priority and needs,” said Mayor Norris.

However, adoption is not the end of the story for the FY2009 budget. In August, Council will have to approve cuts to various social service programs that are funded by the state.

According to Budget Director Leslie Beauregard, the City will have to make a decision on what programs will be cut back due to a reduction in state funding. On April 4, the

state Department of Planning and Budget released a draft list

outlining necessary reductions for Charlottesville of over $500,000. City officials will get to choose where the cuts will come, but not until 30 days after the state budget becomes law.

Sean Tubbs