Albemarle creates economic development fund

At the December 6, 2006 meeting of the

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

, Rivanna District Supervisor Ken Boyd received support for the

creation of a $250,000 line item in the Albemarle County budget to support what he calls an economic development opportunity fund

.  The motion was approved by a 4-2 vote (Rooker & Thomas against).

Mr. Boyd said his goal was to address


in the community and create additional better paying jobs.  With the creation of the fund, Mr. Boyd recommended the identification of criteria for the types of jobs to be attracted.  He wants to regularly measure the impact of the fund and requested that a portion of any new taxes raised, as a result of the economic development supported, be used to replenish the fund such that it would be available on an ongoing basis and be a regular part of the annual budget process.

Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett)

listed a number of major employers already planning to add jobs in the community and expressed his opinion that he did not think it was wise to spend taxpayer dollars to encourage further growth. He suggested the Board should be making investments to improve the community’s quality of life since we are continuing to grow.

David Wyant (White Hall)

expressed concern about seeking new employers to come to the community.  He encouraged the funds to be used for training current residents such that employers coming to Albemarle could hire from within our existing community.

Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller)

noted that past research done in the community indicated that bringing in new employers had an overall negative impact on our fiscal health because of the increasing tax burden caused by a growing population.  She indicated she would have to see new information that demonstrated there was not a negative impact before she would support spending taxpayer dollars to create new jobs.

Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville)

seconded the motion and indicated he would support setting aside the funds to address underemployment issues in the community.  He said this would be a step in the right direction towards creating higher paying jobs.

David Slutzky (Rio)

supported the proposal and expressed a desire that the County avoid attracting firms that might place and environmental burden on the community.  Like Mr. Wyant, he hoped the County’s investment would contribute to the hiring of local residents as opposed to attracting new families to the community.

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Brian Wheeler