Mere hours before the University of Virginia’s men’s basketball team reached the culmination of its season in the championship game, the Charlottesville City Council pushed the $188.8 million fiscal year 2020 budget across the finish line.

The budget represents a 5% increase over the one for the current fiscal year.

In less than seven minutes Monday, councilors gaveled out with a spending plan that  features$35.1 million in its Capital Improvement Program budget, which includes $800,000 for the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund, and contributes $57.4 million of the $88 million Charlottesville City Schools budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

At the 2 p.m. meeting in the second-floor conference room in City Hall, councilors also established the personal property tax relief percentage for the city and set the tax rates for lodging, meals and real estate.

The vehicular tax relief stems from the state’s Personal Property Tax Relief Act of 1998. The initial proposal was to completely eliminate the “car tax” under Gov. Jim Gilmore, but unforeseen circumstances led the General Assembly to put a $950 million cap on the funds set aside for tax relief. In the city, vehicles worth $1,000 or less receive full relief, and the council approved setting the tax relief rate on the first $20,000 in value for vehicles at 43%.

Councilors voted to keep the personal property tax rate steady at $4.20 per $100 of assessed value and keep a rate of 95 cents per $100 of assessed values for real estate. Revenue from this tax is expected to bring in an additional $670,800 to the city due to an increase in the number of vehicles and an over increase in value of them

At the April 1 City Council meeting, councilors voted unanimously to set the lodging tax rate from 7% to 8%, which ties with 16 other cities in the state. The highest lodging rate is 11%, and the lowest is 2%, according to city documents.

Also in the April 1 meeting, the meals tax rate was raised from 5% to 6%. Councilor Mike Signer was the lone vote against that measure. Rates across the state range from 4% to 8%, according to city documents.

The resurrection of the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund comes through a $150,000 reduction in supplemental rental assistance, a reduction of nearly $395,000 from the first phase of the redevelopment of Friendship Court and the transfer of $255,000 from the city’s general fund.

All councilors were present except for Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who phoned in while traveling through Georgia. She was allowed to participate remotely through city policy written last year.


Elliott Robinson has spent nearly 15 years in journalism and joined Charlottesville Tomorrow as its news editor in August 2018 through 2021. He is a graduate of Christopher Newport University.