Councilors Propose Tax Rebate

Dave Norris and Julian Taliaferro have proposed a cash tax rebate, Seth Rosen writes in today’s Progress. The junior city councilors held a press conference yesterday afternoon to announce a series of proposals, as detailed on Norris’ blog. With property assessments up year after year, and taxes along with them, the two Democrats are saying that enough is enough. They made four other proposals, too, including a greater emphasis on the performance of city spending, increased transparency in the budget creation process, a focus on cost savings & innovation and investing in city infrastructure. It remains to be seen whether the pair can get the support of a third councilor, or what city staff will make of it.

10:35pm Update: Charlottesville Tomorrow has notes and a podcast from the event.

37 thoughts on “Councilors Propose Tax Rebate”

  1. The actual department budgets have ALWAYS been pretty transparent. Just a little web surfing to look at the proposals. Might require a council meeting or two also to really see what’s shaking. But what ISN’T transparent is the side spending on all of the crap by some members of Council and some of the school board foolishness. Are they saying they are going to police their peers? Dave and Julian are not the problem…their cronies are…and their cronies will win the day with their BS. Most likely department heads will be nickel and dimed to death and the art in place will be placed and the empty buses will circle the mall since these the sacred cows musn’t be slaughtered.
    The people are not upset with proper expenditures but they sure are about junkets and all of the other fluff.

  2. Don’t spend your whopping $60 rebate all in one place!

    My personal opinion…$60 per homeowner will have little financial impact on the homeowners and it would make way more sense to me to earmark the funds for infrastructure improvement, including sewer, sidewalks, buildings, etc.

  3. Shouldn’t we include police as part of our infrastructure and invest the surplus in salary increases for the men and women who keep our streets safe? $60, if that’s right, is not a ton of money individually. Collectively, it could go a long way toward solving our police shortage.

  4. That $800,000 dollars represent almost 2 cents on the real estate tax rate. It’s interesting that Kevin Lynch insisted that the rate could be reduced another 2 cents exactly to 93 cents/ $100 of value and was ignored by the same two people holding the press conference. Last year, our budget went up $12M and people are impressed by talk for re-allocating nickels and dimes. Obviously, transparency doesn’t make a difference if people don’t know what they are looking at. No where do the speakers address the inordinant real estate taxes property owners pay in order to live in the city (Orange cut their tax rate almost in half last year). I would be greatly impressed if they were going to explore savings in order to lower the tax rate to 85 cent/$100. As it stands, they’re just justifying future tax increases by claiming they have done everything possible to spend money more wisely. Talizferro is a bureaucrat and has pushed starting an expensive duplicative EMS service and Norris headed the Housing Authority which is still in great financial trouble and has started demanded local money from the General Fund for the first time in its 47 history. Judging from their actions, I have little faith. All in all, I hope the rest of the Councilors will weigh in with additional suggestions. Anybody know why they are excluding David Brown?

  5. Mr. Barry,
    While I disagree with several of the statements you present as fact in your post, you have the right to portray matters the way you wish for them to be portrayed. You do not have the right, however, to make accusations about me personally that have absolutely no basis in reality. Please do some research about the recent history of the Housing Authority before you make insinuations that my brief tenure on that Board a number of years ago is somehow connected to the “great financial trouble” that CRHA is in today. What you will see is that the “great financial trouble” plaguing our Housing Authority is unique to, oh, about 90% of the Housing Authorities across the country, because the federal government has been systematically under-funding them in recent years and only a few of them have figured out how to become self-sufficient (primarily through redevelopment of their public housing stock).

  6. They need to just hang on to the money because next year they’ll be whining and crying that now there’s a big deficit and they have to raise taxes.
    What a cluster—-.

  7. Mr. Norris, HUD’s providing 85% to 92% goes back every year almost to Earl Pullen’s directorship. The differences are the rent collection policy changes in recent years and the amount of bad debt and the shifting of funds to “social programs.” Also, I hear there is still an inordinant amount of time before vacant apartments are leashed again, further affecting HA income. All of this since Mrs. Harvey was driven out by the board because, according to the Progress, she was “too controlling.” The problems all point to management. I used to watch those meetings on CPA-TV and read the strange articles in the paper. No one individual manages the HA so I don’t know why you inferred that the remarks referred to anything except the board of which you chaired for several years during the uproar. I still stand by my statement that the HA is in great financial trouble. If not, why is the local taxpayer contributing for the first time in 47 years. Is it because those units look better from the street than that burnt-out apartment building in Buckingham County on TV yesterday?

  8. Oh, and Mr. Norris, you brought up your leadership accomplishments on CRHA during your “brief stint” (four years?) during the final two weeks of your campaign for Council. You can’t have it both ways.

  9. Is it just me, or does anybody else have a problem with a city councilman coming here and identifying somebody by their real name? The only person who should have information about a real person’s identity here is law enforcement. And only then by a court order for chvillnews records. Or is it common knowledge who Mr. Barry is here?

  10. What kind of interest is the city drawing off these surplus funds? I would think it would be a nice piece of change/money. Possibly seed money for some small projects. What say the rest of you bloggers?

  11. yes Demo i have a huge problem with identifying folks by their real name. That jumped out at me when I read the Norris post. Even though I have no idea who Mr. Barry is. I am under the assumption that only Waldo knows who we are and hopefully is obligated not to reveal who we are.
    But I could be wrong.

  12. Thank You, Jan. I thought maybe I was being a little too sensitive here. To learn who anybody is all Waldo really has is an IP address. Waldo can trace the IP address and determine whether it originates from Verizon, Earthlink, Comcast, AOL, etc… But even the IP provider won’t release personal identities to Waldo. The IP provider only has to release personal identity information to law enforcement with a court ordered subpoena. And law enforcement are the first ones to tell people to never list their real names or personal information on the Internet. If Dave Norris chooses to use his real name here, so be it. But he shouldn’t release other people’s real names.

  13. Jogger, before the City spends any money it would help greatly in decision making if it would create an actual working list of ranked priorities (not general areas of expenditures as it does now) and price tags. I’ve not seen one in over ten years. For example, which is more important as a government responsibility: sewer lines, flower beds, bricked streets, traffic lights, storm drains, sidewalks, bridge repairs, vehicle replacement, JPA – W. Main sidewalk streetscapes, bike lanes, 29N highway construction, new EMS service, heavy equipment, new buses, CTS garage on Avon, tourist advertisements, employee raises, housing subsidies (welfare), employee gym memberships, public art, employee parking subsidies, employee health clinic, transit stations, design centers, rain barrels? The way it works now, any and all the above is the answer. Just find the money for everything people bring up = ever-rising budgets and taxes. I think we have enough on our plates and I hope people don’t start another Christmas Wish List process for the expenditures of unexpected revenues. That’s a focus of next week’s Council meeting I hear.

  14. Well I’m certainly not ashamed of who I am or afraid to reveal but sometimes my personal feelings about issues shouldn’t be construed as what my feelings are in the job that I do. Like my stance on the dealth penalty-for it-probably wouldn’t sit well with folks that pay me. But oh well-it’s personal vs professional speech.
    I’m sure that clears THAT up. lol

  15. Is it just me, or does anybody else have a problem with a city councilman coming here and identifying somebody by their real name?

    I don’t have a problem with it. As I’ve written here before, I’m not generally fond of “outing” people. But I really dislike how many people don’t comment under their own names. As “Cville Eye” is free to criticize Dave Norris by name, Dave is likewise free to criticize him by name. I can’t see why Dave’s status as a city councilor should prevent him from doing such a thing. Honestly, I think folks who write anonymously need a little fear that somebody could ID them.

    The only person who should have information about a real person’s identity here is law enforcement. And only then by a court order for chvillnews records.

    Though I imagine that’s likely the only scenario under which that would be the case, I have to point that I’m under no legal obligation to abide by such a standard. It has always been my practice to hold people’s identities in confidence, but I could certainly stop doing that. If a commenter were to unfairly attack me or a family member, for instance, and I a) knew who that commenter was and b) knew that their identity would discredit them, I’ll bet I’d abandon my practice real quick. Sure, I’d like to hope I could stick to my practice of maintaining anonymity, but I’m human.

    Waldo can trace the IP address and determine whether it originates from Verizon, Earthlink, Comcast, AOL, etc… But even the IP provider won’t release personal identities to Waldo. The IP provider only has to release personal identity information to law enforcement with a court ordered subpoena.

    That’s absolutely correct. With Comcast being such a big player here, in fact, most everybody’s IPs just resolve to Comcast, which is a dead end for sleuthing.

    Further to this topic, I recommend reading “You’re Never Anonymous on the Internet,” which I was moved to write on my personal/political blog a few months ago.

  16. Cville Eye, I agree with your thoughts. The city plays the guessestimate game. No real concrete cost estimates on various projects. Never the same two cost numbers mentioned for a particular project and no documented cost estimates.
    The city does need to prioritize its “wish list” and start chipping away at them one by one.
    The one thing the city really needs to do is to learn to say NO to every beggar, panhandler and do-gooder who comes before council at budget time asking for taxpayer money for their own little pet project.
    Does anyone know what kind of interest the city draws on its money. $6.7M surplus is a large amount of money and the interest on this should be substantial.

  17. I think one’s willingness to “out” someone is based on how mad they make you. C-ville Eye can certainly make you mad. He brings to the table a great amount of knowledge mixed in with an equal amount of ignorance about what things are really like in any practical way, because he is not on the ground, at the scene, doing the work. C-ville Eye demonstrated this mix of knowledge and ignorance frequently on the recent blog about education, and I know it made me mad to think people might actually be listening to him. I’m not saying Dave Norris was right to do this, but I can certainly understand his feelings.

  18. Spot-on, Cynic. Unfortunately, the universe of people in this town who actually do pay close attention to local issues (as CvilleEye obviously does, to his credit) is strikingly very small, and over time you get to know who many of them are. But paying close attention doesn’t always translate to getting your facts straight. I reacted strongly (perhaps too strongly) when, on top of a series of factual misstatements, CvilleEye seemed to insinuate that I was complicit in leading a vitally important public agency into “great financial trouble,” which is not only untrue, it betrayed a total lack of knowledge about the particular steps I/we took during my 2.5 years on the Board of that agency (back in the early 2000s) to improve the fiscal health of that (chronically underfunded) organization — reducing administrative overhead, eliminating unnecessary staff positions, curbing the practice of using “rainy day” reserves to fund normal operating expenditures, establishing a formal and transparent process for reviewing & approving resident services allocations, creating a Redevelopment Committee to forge long-term structural adjustments in the way the agency is operated and funded, I could go on. Were it not for these measures, there is no doubt the Housing Authority would be in worse financial shape than it is now. I normally don’t take offense when people criticize me over policy or political differences — in fact, I welcome constructive criticism, and readily admit that I don’t always get everything right — but I do take exception when someone distorts my record without even bothering to actually look at my record first.

  19. quote: “I think folks who write anonymously need a little fear that somebody could ID them.”

    I would agree with you if so many discussions here weren’t about the criminal justice system and the police departments. The last thing anybody needs is to be identified while making a negative comment and then being set up as a target. You saw what Camblos told the county police to do to Mr. Deane, “aim low and lead”, “find a reason to arrest him.” The public has no idea what the criminal justice system is capable of and can do to a normal lawabiding taxpayer out of nothing more than hatred and retaliation. We all suspect why Debbie Wyatt was arrested the night before election. She’s been committing “contempt of Camblos and police” for years by suing them and winning her claims against them. One of her most successful claims was the $4.5 million in the wrongful death by officer case (Gray family). Debbie had been setting herself up as a target for years. And Waldo, even you were concerned about your future if Camblos was re-elected. While you may have been semi-joking, trust me, you had every right to be concerned. Within the next 18 to 24 months you will most likely see a civil case in front of a Charlottesville jury that will show you what a police sergeant’s hatred of another totally innocent person can cause them to do.

  20. Face facts, Dave. Republicans simply don’t like you. This is why I ride the fence with the user name Demopublican. If I ever decide to run for any office in the City of Charlottesville, I will suddenly become a Democrat. Like many other people have done. If I decide to run for any office in the County of Albemarle I will magically become a Republican. Like many others have done as well. :)

  21. “The last thing anybody needs is to be identified while making a negative comment and then being set up as a target”

    Bingo. Those of us who do work in the public sector, who do get in the media once in a while, becoming a target is a very real concern. But I don’t think that I should be regulated to the corner and not open my mouth and blog because of it.

  22. Hey Dave, as a county resident do I get a rebate- Albemarle pays more in tax revenue to Charlottesville then anyone.

  23. Perlogik — I’ll gladly trade you that $14 million in annual revenue sharing dollars for the $25 million in property taxes alone that we would be receiving each year from the County properties we agreed not to annex… :-)

  24. A question for Dave or anyone knowledgeable on the subject:

    In the absence of a revenue sharing/no annexation agreement between a city and its surrounding county like we have between C’ville and Albemarle, why is it legal for the city to annex county land? What’s the justifcation for this? I know that sounds a little loaded, but I’m really just curious about the phenomenon.

  25. The city can’t annex county land unless they annex the entire county.

    § 15.2-748. Annexation by city.

    No part of a county’s territory may be annexed by any city unless the whole county be annexed. In such latter case the county shall not be annexed until the question of annexation has been first submitted to a referendum of the voters of such county and approved by a majority of those voting thereon.

    (Code 1950, §§ 15-358, 15-359; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-692; 1997, c. 587.)

    The city can enter into a revenue sharing agreement with the county. I think 15.2-3400 (and others) cover this.

  26. Falstaff-The revenue agreement was struck so the city would not annex Albemarle land. However there is now a ban on annexation every where in Virginia by the boys & girls in Richmond. This ban needs to be extended or it will end in a few years. I believe this is up to Kaine. Charlottesville had the power, they don’t now, they could have it again.

    With all due respect Dave, I currently have my taxation from Charlottesville but no representation. 14 million is a big part of your revenues. Why can’t I get a rebate since I get no say on how it’s spent? Or is that why I won’t get one? Isn’t there some level of fairness or equity?

    Personally I think it should be put in a rainy day fun- you’re going to need it before it’s all over.

  27. “…it betrayed a total lack of knowledge about the particular steps I/we took during my 2.5 years on the Board of that agency (back in the early 2000s) to improve the fiscal health of that (chronically underfunded) organization…” The list following is full of admirable goals, Mr. Norris, and I applaud your insight into some of the needs of public housing management. But, before the end of 2006, CRHA needed $160,000 is bail-out money. My point, which is not a reflection upon any individual serving on that board ever, is there is a big difference between intent and effect. At a neighobrhood meeting recently, I heard a city planner say that eventually most of the CDBG funds will be turned over to the HA. That is an effect that is unfair to Fifeville and Rose Hill since neither has public housing within its boundaries, yet the income levels of its residents help enable the City to receive this grant annually. So the effect seems to be far-reaching. Thus, I have no faith.
    BTW, thanks for bringing up the history of the revenue-sharring agreement and its rationale. The County knew even then that they would benefit better financially in the long run with revenue sharing rather than 29N annexation.

  28. Perlogik – at the press conference on Tuesday, Dave Norris said he would be willing to using some of the money to pay for projects in Albemarle County that would help relieve pressure on City streets that are used as cut-throughs. At least, that’s what I thought I heard. Is that true, Dave?

  29. Doesn’t take long for “non-partisan” Charlottesville Tomorrow to come out in defense of Democrats.

  30. Tubbs, this is from Norris’ blog,
    “Many of these costs are directly related to our ability to manage growth in the County and absorb an increasing level of cut-through traffic by County commuters. Right now, 50% of our County Revenue-Sharing funds are dedicated to capital costs and we propose to increase that to 75% in the years ahead so we can get a better handle on the transportation improvements that are necessary to protect our neighborhoods and promote increased use of transit, walking and bicycling.” I’m glad you brought this up because I didn’t get it the first time I read it. It seems to me you are hearing him correctly.

  31. If we get a tax rebate, who’s going to pay for the free glossy, calendars from the City named Charlottesville Cares 2008? It should cost $60/household to have that many city staffers put it together. The pictures are quite zany. County residents: eat your heart out!

  32. Demopublican–before you run as a republican in the county, take a look at recent voting trends (available on the state bd of elections website) in the county.

    Falstaff–are you suggesting that if an organization dedicated to informing the public about local issues and analyzing said issues thinks a plan is a good or bad idea, they shouldn’t say so? would it make you happier if they panned all the ideas of democrats and approved all the ideas of republicans? (i suspect so…)

  33. After last night’s Council meeting, does anyone still have reasonable hope for a tax rebate? As a side issue, were the people whose tax bill was $0 because of the elderly rebate program also to receive the $60 they never paid in? If so, that smacks of welfare (receiving money from government for services not rendered, as in farm subsidies).

  34. I think Cville Eye is right on about the Housing Authority. Truth hurts. Only the Authority is 53 years old…established 1954. Federal government isn’t under-funding; it’s divesting. My blog has more info/history of Cville Housing Authority than any other online source. The problems of this agency are cumulatively so bad it’s bringing down the whole city…and Dave Norris along with it. BTW my real name is Blair Hawkins.

  35. Enjoyed reading the histories on your blog over the years, Cvillenative. I think the history of urban renewal in Charlottesville is something most old-timers would like to forget. I wonder when CRHA will hand City Hall its share of the bill for spanking brand new public housing units. I suppose they will be “green.” Actually, HUD started divesting itself of massive numbers of public housing units when it created Section 8 vochers and the HOPE VI program. Funding for those programs have stagnated recently, so I guess the locality will continue making up larger and larger differences. I had heard but have not seen anything in writing that CCity Hall will eventually have a program where the City will be providing housing vouchers for low-income people to pay their mortgages on new homes. Anybody heard anything about that? I’ve only heard it from two people so I’m not swearing by it. Closest thing I’ve seen in writing is very vague at!news

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