Taliaferro Proposes Merging Governments

I’ve heard a lot of talk this week about a proposal made by City Councilor Julian Taliaferro a few weeks ago: merging the Charlottesville and Albemarle governments. The periodic reversion debates has always been freighted with ego problems; if Charlottesville is a mere town, doesn’t it lose some standing? Merging governments, on the other hand, is purely practical, and has no impact on the standing of either the county or the city. We already share some services, and we share revenue. Why not stop dating and get hitched?

Whether through reversion of merging governments, I think it’s about time we again looked seriously at ending the duplication of services and, more important, forced the two municipalities to cooperate as closely as possible. And, while I’m making wild-eyed suggestions, I also recommend that Crozetians put together a plan to gain permission from the General Assembly to incorporate as a town. Until Crozet has its own governing body, it will continue to be the county’s population-boom dumping ground. Isn’t time time the town took control of its own destiny?

21 Responses to “Taliaferro Proposes Merging Governments”


  • It’s an interesting issue. Personally, I like the value of having separate governments better attuned to the needs of their constituents. Of course, that would be much more effective in a proportional representation system like that of fellow college town Cambridge, Massachusetts, but that’s another topic.
    The recent study showing that consolidating fire departments would not be beneficial makes me doubt that consolidating all services would be a good thing, but I am all for looking into areas where it might work. This was a major topic of discussion and interest on the Charlottesville Strategic Planning Committee, but I get the sense that it is less interesting to County residents and perhaps to less engaged city residents. I don’t know of any scientific opinion polls on the subject.
    Also, I should note that I haven’t studied the fire department analysis myself. It may have some problems that haven’t been revealed publicly. I expect that Taliaferro himself is one of our region’s most well-informed experts on the subject, and he appears to disagree with the findings if he advocates a blanket merger.

    I agree that incorporating makes sense for Crozet some time in the near future. Their problems are quickly going to become larger and more complex than I believe one Supervisor can appropriately respond to.

  • I also recommend that Crozetians put together a plan to gain permission from the General Assembly to incorporate as a town. Until Crozet has its own governing body, it will continue to be the county’s population-boom dumping ground. Isn’t time time the town took control of its own destiny?

    Amen to that!

    I don’t live in Crozet, but I’ve always wondered why no one thought to try and do that- especially when it’s been made crystal clear that the Albemarle BoS has no intentions of listening to, and abiding by, the will of the residents of Crozet.

    I’m not thrilled at the idea of Cville and Albemarle merging. I don’t really have any good reason for not liking that idea. I just don’t.

  • I’m not thrilled at the idea of Cville and Albemarle merging. I don’t really have any good reason for not liking that idea. I just don’t.

    I have a hunch that there are an enormous number of people who feel the exact same way. That, IMHO, was what killed the last reversion push.

  • Wouldn’t Albemarle residents’ real estate taxes go up in a merger?

    And would rural Albemarle residemts actually get any of the services their taxes paid for? Already there are no services for people who live in Albemarle near the Louisa County line, no medical appointment Jaunt, no volunteer rescue through Albemarle, it’s a different volunteer fire and rescue, no trash pick up, no water, and a very long ride to school for the kids. I don’t see people where I used to live being willing to pay more for the same lack of services.

    Crozet has Jaunt service for medical appointments by the way.

  • Crozet has long talked about incorporation, but that would have meant another layer of taxation, which was always unacceptable. What Crozet needs at this point more then incorporation is a change in representation at the Board of Supervisors. As a matter of fact what we need to do is dump not only Wyant, but Boyd and Dorrier as well.

  • personwho: They could go up or down, depending on how such a merger were handled. The county could be split into different tax districts depending on the level of service an area enjoys. This would be a more rational alternative to the current system, which uses land use tax breaks as a very rough approximation for this. “Cows don’t go to school,” as Sally Thomas says.

    Interesting point, CR. Could it be done without another layer of taxation, or with a restriction to Tax Increment Financing districts? With a TIF, taxes don’t go up. A public investment is made that raises land values and spurs development, producing higher tax revenue, which is used to finance the project that generate the revenue in the first place. I think it’s very clever, and it is legal in Virginia.

  • I’m going to admit I don’t know much about what goes into incorporating as a town. What is meant by “additional level of taxes?” When I look at Scottsville, I don’t see any “additional level of taxes” with the sole exception of the 25 dollar sticker that town residents must purchase- kinda like the Cville city sticker (which has been retired of course). I don’t believe a change in representation will get Crozet what it wants. I think the only thing that will do that- is for Crozet residents to step up to the plate, take responsibility for their self determination and try to get Town status.

    As for Dorrier, I would not be inclined to vote against him, if only because he’s not a transplant, and now days it seems like most of the elected offices are filled with transplants (I’m not sure that’s true but it’s the clear impression I’ve gotten lately). As a native of the area, I believe he has a historical perspective that a transplant lacks. I think that is important and adds something. I would have to hear some pretty convincing arguments (with supporting evidence) before I’d consider voting against.

  • If I’m not mistaken I believe Scottsville also has to have their own police department and town council etc, which would add to the bill. I do agree that Crozet should stand up and be counted, at least at this point counted on to change its representation.
    I would be interested to hear the historical perspective that a transplant lacks. I’ve been down here almost 20 years, which I believe has given me enough time to know the lay of the land and the politics that surround it. I believe one of the problems with natives is they haven’t been outside the area to see what’s going on in other localities in order to make informed decisions. I always thought it would be good idea to hold one or two board meetings a year on the Long Island Expressway during rush hours to show the members of the board what happens when you screw up.

  • If I’m not mistaken I believe Scottsville also has to have their own police department and town council etc, which would add to the bill.

    Well, the town council would be the whole point, so yes to that. :) I’m not sure whether it would be obligated to have its own police force. Scottsville does, FWIW.

  • CrozetResident, would you happen to know Tom Loach?

  • Yes.

  • I believe one of the problems with natives is they haven’t been outside the area to see what’s going on in other localities in order to make informed decisions. I always thought it would be good idea to hold one or two board meetings a year on the Long Island Expressway during rush hours to show the members of the board what happens when you screw up.

    Agreed. That’s a fair point.

  • TrvlnMn,
    To tell the truth I’m very confused about what the “native” view of the current situation regarding growth is. We have a county policy that states the county should stay rural, yet in the recent vote by the board on clustering and phasing, which is in place in other rural counties to preserve their rural character was voted down (Dorrier, Wyant and Boyd). On the other hand the board denied the SOCA proposal (All but Dorrier voted against it) to build a new facility because it would encroach on the rural area. The survey the county did showed overwhelming support for rural preservation, but that was a survey across the board and not limited to rural residents.

  • Merging is a great idea – for the city – which is why the idea starts there. To the county it would be like marrying a woman with five children – who’s already pregnant.

    The town of Crozet is a great idea. It’s funny these two ideas would appear in the same blog, because they seem to come from opposite points of view. This one might say a smaller, more local authority is better, the efficiencies of scale are not worth the price, and cooperation is forcing too much compromise. (The other might say a larger, more central authority would be better, with effeciency of scale and forced cooperation.)

    TrvlnMn, you need a reason. Go to a few meetings and listen to your native getting lost in the converstation a few times.

  • A city-county merger makes sense to me in the area of the schools. 4000 kids in the city and 12,000 in the county, with great administrative costs borne by both communities. (More than 70 people in the city schools Central Office!) Running a division of 16,000 students shouldn’t take many more administrators than the County currently has. Thanks to Julian T. for raising the question again. I’d like to see serious discussion that makes it happen–or at least leads to cooperative ventures in areas (like the schools) that make sense.

  • How many generations does your family have to have lived here before you are a “native”. I’d suppose the only true Native are Monicans. While I’d certainly love to see one of them represented in local government, I think someone that’s lived here their whole life probably should qualify. So, from that perspective, I have lived here my whole life. I grew up playing in Albemarle county forests, and going to albemarle county schools. My parents still live here, and I would hope my children could settle here should they wish.

    My perspective on development isn’t that I’m concerned about other people moving here, but rather a feeling that many of the people moving here, and the neighborhoods being built, don’t reflect local history, values and culture. Some people move here because of the rural beauty then complain because the drive to Walmart is too far, or that we lack(ed) a Target. Well, now we’ve got our Target, Walmart, and will probably end up with more. What we’ve lost though is a bit harder to calculate. Crozet, isn’t Corey “Farms”. Crozet is the little barbershop where they still know your name and have strange vials of hair products that my grandparents might have used. Crozet to me is peach and apple groves and the Blue Ridge mountains, but some people would rather see that replaced with acres of houses that look all alike. Albemarle county is the rock bluff covered with fameflowers, not the McMansion built overtop it.

    As a family of farmers, I understand how when prices go up that it us hard not to sell out. I know that locals are torn between finally getting chance to cash in on their investments and losing their ability to afford to live here. I almost wasn’t able to afford to live here, and if I’d bought my house merely a few months later then I’d been priced out of the market. That said, Crozet Resident is right. Wyant, Boyd and Dorrier are completely out of touch with what is happening to our county. They are completely in the pocket of local developers and no longer seem to be accountable to local citizen’s wishes and needs. If I have to replace them with a “transplant” that has more respect for local values, history and culture then so be it. Wyant, Boyd and Dorrier have shown clearly what their values are, now it’s time for us to show what ours are.

  • What does Albemarle get out of this besides higher taxes? It’s a great deal for the City and the County gets screwed.

    Sorry, but Albemarle residents should rise in rebellion if this becomes a serious possibility. The City and the County can co-operate on services in which it makes sense to do so – but I’ll be damned if my taxes are going up and that money if being sent to the City. It just ain’t going to happen.

  • Why should the county end up with higher taxes? There are far more people in Albemarle than Charlottesville — Albemarle would win any vote against Charlottesville.

  • Reversion and merger are different. If the city reverted to town status the county supervisors would draw new magesterial districts and city residents would have no say. Their plan would have to be approved by the Justice Department but I have no doubt that the end result would be a governing body controlling the city with a majority of it’s members residing in the county. As you said Waldo, “Albemarle would win any vote against Charlottesville.” As a resident of the city I do not want that to happen. Merger may be more equitable but I don’t know enough about it to say.

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