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2017 Legislative Program, Policy Positions
The City recommends that the General Assembly enact laws to broaden and simplify impact fee authority to allow the assessment of the fees for all public infrastructure, including school construction costs, caused by growth. Impact fees should be based on public facilities construction costs, and fees should be locality-specific.
The City opposes any reduction of local authority to manage such functions as land use, zoning, conditional use permits, etc. Local governments must retain current authority to use conditional zoning rules in the State Code to balance the financial impact created by residential development and to facilitate well planned communities that are compatible with nearby developments.
The City supports legislation that would aid local revitalization/redevelopment efforts such as, but not limited to, additional funding for demolition of abandoned structures, statutory presumption of abandonment, authority to enter and abate derelict buildings, and expanded authority concerning spot blight abatement.
VIRGINIA HOUSING TRUST FUND
The City supports continued state funding for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. The City also supports providing for a portion of the Fund to be used to provide matching funds to localities that have established local housing funds, and grants to be made from the Fund to support innovative housing projects and low and moderate income housing projects that are located in areas experiencing extreme shortages of such housing.
FUNDING FOR OPEN SPACE CONSERVATION
The City of Chesapeake desires to protect its open space, agricultural lands and industries, natural resources, including its drinking water supply watershed, natural habitats, and historic sites. Conserving these resources is critical to Virginia’s economy and establishing a balance between the conservation of open space/natural resource lands and residential and/or commercial development is essential to quality of life and fiscal health. The City supports the efforts to establish a dedicated funding source for open space conservation, to include agricultural lands.
MOTOR VEHICLE TITLE LOANS, PAYDAY LOANS, AND OPEN-END CREDIT PLANS
The City urges the passage of legislation to enact a market based interest rate cap for consumer loans made in the Commonwealth of Virginia in order to protect citizens from the high interest rates that are presently allowed. The City also supports a reversal of the legislation that was adopted in 2011. The 2011 amendment allowed title loan issuers to advance loans secured by out of state vehicles.
Any legislation or regulatory action having a fiscal impact on local governments should also be accompanied with state appropriations adequate to cover the full cost of such mandates.
LOCAL REPRESENTATION ON LEGISLATIVE STUDIES IMPACTING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
Local government representatives should be included on any “blue ribbon” commission or other body established by the state that has as its purpose changes to local revenue authority or governance.
LOCAL TAXING AUTHORITY
The General Assembly should not cap, remove or restrict any revenue sources, taxing authority or user fees available to localities. The erosion of local revenue sources reduces local flexibility, increases local government’s reliance on the real property tax and jeopardizes local bond ratings. If the state does eliminate or restrict local revenue sources, it should replace those revenues lost to the localities. The loss to localities includes not only current revenues being derived from the revenue source, but also potential increases in revenues due to growth or rate increases.
STATE AID TO LOCALITIES
State aid to localities assists in providing services at the local level, many of which are mandated. The state and localities are in partnership in providing these services to their citizens and localities should not be expected to take on a greater and greater share of the funding responsibility. The City opposes cuts in state assistance programs such as, but not limited to, full funding of State Aid to Local Public Libraries, HB 599 funding for localities with police departments, extension services, local offices on youth, Virginia Juvenile Community Crime Control Act (VJCCCA) funds and services for senior citizens. The City also opposes any further reduction to the car tax reimbursement to local governments.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INVESTMENT PROGRAMS
The City supports State funding for such programs as the Virginia Jobs Investment Program and the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. The City also supports changes to the State’s economic development incentives program to provide increased flexibility to provide assistance to a wider range of companies, especially smaller and mid-sized projects. Further, the City supports the creation and implementation of new economic development incentives programs that are based on “best practices” of Virginia’s competitor states.
VIRGINIA ENTERPRISE ZONE PROGRAM
The City of Chesapeake’s Enterprise Zone program was recognized as one of the most successful in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was a vital component to the City’s ability to bring business and job growth to the City’s South Norfolk community. The program designation expired in 2005, and the reapplication process was placed on hold by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development while changes to the statewide program were being considered by the 2005 Virginia General Assembly. These program changes were highly significant, and removed the City’s eligibility to participate in the Enterprise Zone program.
The City supports a revision of the state’s Enterprise Zone program to provide additional funding and to revert back to the original eligibility criteria, whereby Enterprise Zone designations were granted based on the demographics and economics of specific neighborhoods, and not the City as a whole.
FUNDING FOR CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICES
The City of Chesapeake urges the state to fund the additional positions for the Offices of Clerk of the Circuit Court, Sheriff, Commonwealth’s Attorney, City Treasurer and Commissioner of the Revenue, that its own staffing standards indicate are needed, and which more accurately reflect the actual workloads and requirements of these offices.
MENTAL HEALTH, INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES
People with serious mental illness, as well as their loved ones, and people with addiction disorders and their families face a crisis when it comes to accessing services they need. Decades of neglect to the mental health system, plus an increased need from people who are uninsured, underinsured, or facing economic hardship, have exacerbated the problem. According to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services, almost 4,500 Virginians are waiting to receive community-based services for mental health alone, and almost 1,500 of those have waited for services longer than four months. The well-being of families and our community is seriously threatened by the failure of those in need to receive timely and effective mental healthcare.
The City urges the State to provide significant increases to funding for mental healthcare services beyond that provided in 2016, to allow for the provision of recovery-focused community treatment and emergency/crisis stabilization services that prevent more costly institutional care in state mental hospitals, training centers or correctional facilities.
The City supports the Virginia Association of Community Services Board (VACSB) budget priorities for 2017-2018 with funding to include, but not limited to the following:
- Workforce development with a focus on recruiting and are retaining licensed or license-eligible staff by offering tuition reimbursement and clinical supervision financial incentives.
- Expansion of medical detoxification to improve crisis response system for individuals with substance use dependence and ensure that resources are available for safe detoxification during a crisis episode.
- Reintegration services for high-risk youth and adults to expand capacity for the purchase of community-based services and treatment to address youth and adults who are high-risk for re-hospitalization or re-offense due the severity of their behavioral health challenges.
- Additional Waiver Slots: The Waiver Waiting List Reduction Package to reduce the Waiver waiting list by fifty percent (50%). Waiver slots build capacities that will enable individuals who need developmental services and supports, including those with multiple disabilities, to live a life that is fully integrated in the community.
The City supports a move to, over several biennia, a model of services that encompass the 9 + 1 services: Behavioral Health Crisis Services; Screening, Assessment, and Diagnosis, including Risk Assessment; Person Centered Treatment Planning, Risk Assessment and Crisis Planning; Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Use Services; Outpatient Clinic Primary Care Screening and Monitoring; Targeted Case Management; Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services; Peer Support and Family Support, including parent peer support for children; Intensive Community-Based Mental Health Care for Members of the Armed Forces and Veterans; Plus One: Care Coordination. The State, in partnership with community services boards, must continue to focus on building a system of responsive, consistent community based services that go beyond responding to each crisis. The system we build needs to connect to critical partners in housing and the criminal justice system as well as be closely integrated with crisis services.
Finally, last year an amendment provided that in the case of psychiatric services provided to individuals receiving services from a community services board, free health clinic, or federally qualified health center, by a practitioner engaged by the Center for Telehealth of the University of Virginia, to deliver such services, the requirement for an appropriate examination set forth in § 54.1-3303 of the Code of Virginia may be satisfied through the use of telemedicine. The City requests that rather than specifying UVA, the use of telemedicine be expanded to include practitioners working for CSBs, free clinics and federally qualified health centers.
CHILDREN’S SERVICES ACT (CSA)
Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) recently announced regulatory changes to the process by which children are placed in Residential Treatment Facilities. Under the new process, which will begin December 1 of this year, admission for all Medicaid-funded placements for residential treatment will be coordinated by an Independent Assessment, Certification and Coordination Team (IACCT).
The IACCT will assess the child’s needs and certify the need for residential treatment, if appropriate. Localities will have the option to contract with Magellan (the Behavioral Health Administrator for DMAS) to serve as the IACCT through their local Community Policy and Management Teams, for which they would receive reimbursement from Magellan.
This proposal represents a significant change and local Children’s Services Act (CSA) coordinators across the state have raised many questions about how this process would work, including concerns about the required deadlines for the IACCT to complete an assessment and the role of the physician member of the IACCT.
VETERANS TRANSITION EMPLOYMENT CENTER
The City supports the efforts of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the region’s workforce investment boards to receive state funding to support an employment transition center for our region’s veterans.
LIABILITY OF TEACHER RETIREMENT PLAN
The unfunded liability associated with the teacher retirement plan should be a shared responsibility of the state and local government. In that local public school systems, in accordance with government accounting standards (GASB) are a “component unit” of the locality for purposes of financial reporting. VML supports legislation that would provide for the Virginia Department of Education to pay its share of retirement costs directly to the Virginia Retirement System in order to facilitate the sharing of these liabilities.
TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE – CHESAPEAKE CAMPUS
Tidewater Community College, with nearly 40,000 students, serves South Hampton Roads, where the shortage of skilled workers to fill STEM jobs is above average compared to other MSAs in the U.S. According to the Brookings Institution, the region was ranked No. 1 in the share of jobs requiring education on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and Health Care (STEM/H) skills and sub-bachelor’s level of education.
Consistent with TCC’s campus master plans and its role in developing the STEM/H workforce:
- TCC’s top legislative priority is full funding for construction of a Science and Engineering Building on the Chesapeake Campus. These funds will be used for the construction of a 76,000 sf Science and Engineering Building with classrooms and labs for Chemistry, Biology, Natural Sciences, Geology, and Physics. In addition, the new facility will provide much-needed space for the campus’ Engineering and Engineering Technologies programs. This facility directly addresses the need for STEM credentials. These programs are currently housed in antiquated labs in the 35-year old Pass Building and in temporary modular buildings.
The City opposes any amendments to limit the scope of Pretrial Services, as well as supports the continued funding of Pretrial Services in the Commonwealth.
For years the state has consistently underfunded its share of administrative costs (including personnel and technology) for programs administered on its behalf by local departments of social services. The state agency has now decided to make local agencies solely liable for federal financial penalties resulting from federal audits of the system. Federal law does not require passing this cost onto localities; it is the state’s choice to do so. If the state is concerned with improved performance and accountability, it must fully acknowledge and fulfill its responsibility in this partnership by properly funding, staffing, equipping, and supporting the local offices that render services on its behalf.
The City urges the state to provide additional funding for transit services and client advocacy training. We support the state’s efforts to open an interactive “portal” for clients to review their resources, apply for and change appointments and access services from their home. The Chesapeake Social Services Division has concerns with the barriers to human service providers sharing redundant customer information, which the customer has authorized to be shared. We request that the state remove electronic barriers to the sharing of this information. Along these lines, it is requested that the state continue to find ways to reduce the paperwork requirements, simplify program requirements and integrate requirements between state systems. The City supports an amendment to the State Code that would make being listed on the central registry for child abuse and neglect a barrier to employment in a juvenile detention facility. The City also supports the Department of Juvenile Justice increasing the Block Grant Funding to fifty percent (50%) of the Chesapeake Juvenile Services (Detention Home) operating budget.
The City appreciates the General Assembly’s recent action increasing funding for transportation, including transit to meet the demand for construction and maintenance of highways, bridges, railroad overpasses and other critical components of transportation safety and commerce. The City supports continued funding for bridge construction, operating costs for bridges, especially movable bridges, and maintenance to offset this costly burden. The City further requests the State to retain the Revenue Sharing Program.
On-going state funding assistance will be critical in ensuring toll rates are affordable and not counterproductive to mobility and commerce. Additionally, now that the state provides a designated highway funding stream, the City urges the General Assembly to ensure that those localities that have, or are, building facilities with local dollars and/or tolls, will receive their appropriate share of these dollars and not be penalized for their initiative.
The City supports an amendment to Virginia Code § 58.1-2295 which would establish a protective floor price for the 2.1 percent (2.1%) regional gas tax, much as was done for the statewide fuels tax in §58.1-2217. Such a floor concept is essential to provide a more stable, dedicated revenue source needed for long-term financing of regional projects. It is estimated that such a floor could raise approximately $40 million per year for the region.
The City supports a dedicated funding source for public transit systems without a reduction in funding for other transportation modes. The City further supports HRT’s request for “an evaluation and report should be conducted, similar to that done in 1996 and reflected in House Document 71, to evaluate the organization and governance of public transportation funding in Hampton Roads. Technical assistance should be provided from the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads, Williamsburg Area Transit Authority, Suffolk Transit, the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, along with staff support from the Division of Legislative Services.”
With passenger rail service now running through Chesapeake and freight-rail activities on the rise, the need for grade separated highway-rail crossings is becoming critical to ensure emergency access to the ever increasing industrial areas along the Elizabeth River, as well as highly populated residential areas. The City and the Norfolk-Portsmouth Beltline Railroad jointly funded the design of the Freeman Avenue overpass and are seeking construction funding through various state and federal programs. Further, the City is currently designing the 22nd Street Bridge which serves as a crossing of the Norfolk-Southern Railroad. Additional funding is needed to design and construct overpasses at major crossings such as Portlock Road.
The I-64 Southside Widening, including replacement of the High Rise Bridge, remains the City’s top interstate priority.
The City strongly opposes any proposal to reduce annual road maintenance payments to the 83 Virginia local governments that own and maintain their own streets.
Support the animal cruelty legislative initiative adopted by Virginia Beach to amend Section 3.2-6570 to allow persons who severely abuse companion animals to be charged with a Class 6 felony, regardless of whether the animal survives or whether the defendant has been previously convicted of the same crime within the past five (5) years. Currently, animal cruelty arises to a Class 6 felony only if the animal dies or there are other aggravating circumstances; otherwise it is limited to a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 6 felony is punishable by 1-5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2500. It is the “lowest” class of felony.
URBAN AREAS SECURITY INITIATIVE (UASI)
The HRPDC requests assistance from our state and federal partners to restore the Hampton Roads region’s UASI designation.
SAFETY BELT REQUIREMENT
An amendment to Section 46.2-1094 of the Code of Virginia is necessary to protect the lives and wellbeing of citizens of the Commonwealth and others traveling on the roadways within Virginia. Currently, Virginia Code Section 46.2-1094 requires persons who are at least 16 years of age and riding in the front seat of a motor vehicle to wear a safety belt; however, law-enforcement officers are prohibited from enforcing this section, unless they have cause to stop or arrest the driver of the vehicle for some other violation. Wearing seatbelts has proven to save lives. To make this code section more effective in saving lives, law-enforcement officers need to be authorized to enforce Virginia Code Section 46.2-1094, without first being required to find that another law has been violated.
The City supports the introduction of legislation that addresses the issue of distracted driving.
COAL COMBUSTION BY-PRODUCTS
In order to ensure against accidental discharge and contamination of groundwater, coal combustion by-products should be required to be removed to a permitted landfill meeting federal criteria for this class of waste. Reclamation of the impoundment sites must be consistent with federal mine reclamation standards. These requirements must also apply to impoundment sites that have been closed by capping in place, intend to close by capping in place, or have received approval for closure by capping in place.
GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT & GROUNDWATER INJECTION PROJECTS
Aquifer injection is not a new concept in the Commonwealth. The City of Chesapeake has been injecting treated drinking water into the aquifer, storing the water for future use, since 1989. Through 2005, water was injected and withdrawn to balance daily demands; since March, 2006, when our Lake Gaston Water Treatment Facility opened, it has been used almost exclusively as storage, with a net of over 3.0 billion gallons of water stored to date. In addition to storing water for Chesapeake’s future use, this aquifer storage has improved the condition of the aquifer and provided numerous lessons learned regarding aquifer injection techniques and expectations. Chesapeake is currently working with the Department of Environmental Quality to incorporate its aquifer injection program into its groundwater withdrawal permit, which is currently being negotiated. The intent is for this permit to form the basis for future permits by which other entities can employ aquifer storage and recovery as a long-term water management technique. Chesapeake is actively sharing its lessons learned with HRSD, DEQ and the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee.
Uranium mining, milling, and disposal of generated wastes pose health and environmental concerns for Virginians. If uranium mining activities are permitted in Virginia, the City is concerned that radiation and other pollutants from mill tailings may occur and water supplies may be contaminated. Therefore, the City opposes uranium mining in Virginia, and opposes the elimination of the existing legislative moratorium on the mining and milling of uranium in Virginia. Further, the Commonwealth is requested to vigorously oppose federal court actions to overturn the moratorium on uranium mining.
SOLID WASTE OR OTHER SURCHARGES
The City opposes the imposition of a state fee or surcharge on water, sewer, or any other local government service.
STORMWATER LOCAL ASSISTANCE FUND (SLAF)
The City is requesting the Governor and General Assembly allocate $50 million in the fiscal year 2016 budget to the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF), which will allow localities throughout the Commonwealth to implement urban stormwater management practices as described in Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan. These funds will also assist localities to meet costly state and federal stormwater permit requirements. The City is grateful to the General Assembly for creating the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) and appropriating $35 million for the Fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide matching grants to local governments implementing best management practices that cost effectively reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff. The City of Chesapeake was awarded $1.25 million in 2013 for the Washington Manor Outfall project in the Deep Creek area of the City, $412,000 in FY15 for a wetlands bench project on Yadkin Road for $74,500 and a wet pond on 22nd Street for $337,500.
NUTRIENT ALLOCATIONS CURRENTLY ASSIGNGED TO EXISTING MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS
A new industry seeking to add a new 20 to 30 million gallon per day direct discharge in the Chesapeake Bay watershed intends to have legislation introduced that would require the State Water Control Board to review and periodically revise existing nutrient allocations of all existing facilities for the purpose of transferring allocation to new facilities. Our further understanding of this legislative proposal is as follows:
The implications are that this concept is a serious threat to localities, especially in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Adverse consequences could include:
- Disruption of major recent local wastewater treatment investments made to comply with the Chesapeake Bay TMDL over the past 5-10 years;
- Stranding of existing constructed treatment capacity and associated loss of capacity of local growth and economic development;
- New, extremely stringent and costly treatment over and above EPA Chesapeake Bay TMDL levels;
- Disruption of existing or planning nutrient trades between or among wastewater facilities and or municipal separate storm sewer systems;
- A precedent for potentially taking away water supply (withdrawal capacity) from existing water suppliers to transfer to new facilities where the source is already fully allocated.
Revised Nov. 28, 2016