On March 4, 2008,

Albemarle County Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller)

was a guest on WINA’s Charlottesville Live radio program as part of the station’s monthly Government Day episode. Hosts Rick Daniels and Jane Foy spoke with Thomas about the

Advance Mills Bridge replacement project

as well as the

City-County Revenue Sharing Agreement

.


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:

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Advance Mills Bridge

VDOT

recently announced

that it would abandon a project to build a temporary replacement of the Advance Mills bridge on Route 743 in Northern Albemarle County.  The existing truss bridge has been closed since April 2007.

“It really comes down to a shortage of money,” said Thomas.  “VDOT just cannot make the dollars come out to support a temporary bridge….If people want to get mad, they should get mad at the state legislators who are just not coming up with more money to support the transportation system throughout the state.”

Thomas pointed out that because Advance Mills is a historic district, the Board of Supervisors takes responsibility for keeping the old bridge in service as long as possible.  For years VDOT has been urging the County to replace the bridge citing increasing maintenance costs, but the Board was reluctant to support a project that would result in a much wider bridge and a realigned and straightened roadway that would be out of character with the historic community.

On the prospect of having the historic truss bridge demolished in exchange for a permanent replacement on the same site, Thomas emphasized the positives.  “There’s no way the that old bridge could be saved any longer,  but the marvelous thing about the plan that VDOT has come up with…they are just going to replace the bridge, make it a two lane bridge…but they are not going to straighten the approach….”  Thomas also noted that the design of the permanent bridge would pay tribute to the old truss structure.


Revenue Sharing Agreement

Next, Thomas was asked by a caller whether the County could get out of the perpetual revenue sharing agreement with the City of Charlottesville, the subject of an

in-depth article in today’s

Daily Progress


.  That agreement will transfer $13.6 million to the City next fiscal year.  Thomas reviewed the origins of the deal reached twenty-six years ago which put an end to the City’s annexation of County territory.

“It’s a lot of money, that’s true.  At the time, it was a pretty brilliant idea because annexation was tearing this community apart,” said Thomas.  She gave an example of how the fear of annexation impacted County government decisions in the 1970s. The site for Western Albemarle High School in Crozet, which opened in 1977, was selected “farther out than it ought to be” to ensure it was out of reach of the City and could not be annexed.

“We had no way of knowing that the General Assembly was going put in a moratorium, which they have never lifted, on annexation,” said Thomas.  Effective January 1, 1987, annexation by Cities was stopped in Virginia.  Since then, Albemarle has paid a total of almost $121 million to Charlottesville through the 2007-08 fiscal year.  The revenue sharing agreement remains in effect until:

    The County and City are consolidated into a single political subdivision; or

    The concept for independent cities presently existing in Virginia is altered by the State law in such a manner that real property in the City becomes part of the County’s tax base; or

    The County and City mutually agree to cancel or change the agreement.


Source: County of Albemarle FY2008 Budget

“If we had a dying city in our midst, we would be a really sorry County.  Charlottesville is a pretty healthy City and part of that health is, in fact, the revenue sharing money,” said Thomas.  “Would we wish that they recognize that they got that money and maybe do some other things with it?  Well Sure.”

When pressed by the caller to indicate whether she thought Albemarle was getting any value out of the agreement, Thomas answered in the affirmative.

Brian Wheeler

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