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a short agenda tonight, but an unusually packed house here at charlottesville city hall
i did NOT get here in time to sit in my favorite seat and i’m NOT happy about it.
there are a LOT of old property owners wearing custom stickers protesting a proposed real estate tax increase 🙄
the livestream is on facebook here
nikuyah is announcing this public job interview for the three finalists for the city manager job. wednesday, 4pm at the jefferson school!

heather is reading a list of people appointed to various boards & commissions. can’t wait to see each and every one of them!
consent agenda passes unanimously. now on to response from the city manager to matters from the last meeting.
lotta folks in city council chambers have never attended a meeting before and it shows.
march 11 will be the first day of the pilot for the changed trolley route. this will probably eliminate some of the parking spaces on 2nd street.

and now right into public comment. the first commenter yields his time to city council candidate michael payne.
lot of folks here holding up orange flyers asking the city to divest from fossil fuels and weapons manufacturers.
the city currently holds a corporate bond from exxon & the city’s retirement fund has significant investments in fossil fuels.
hotel lobbyist says we have $17mil annually in hotel payroll locally. he also says our occupancy rates have dropped. (seems to me like that’s because we keep building hotels, but he says it’s because of taxes 🤷‍♀️)
love when people pretend to care about the working class when it suits their business interests!
$12.56/hr is the AVERAGE wage in the hospitality industry locally according this guy in the suit, but it seems dishonest to talk about an average when we’re talking about a living wage.
also, for the record, even if that average were the minimum - that’s not liveable in this area!
“the tourism industry is now in a position for growth” after “two challenging years” (i could not possibly be rolling my eyes more aggressively)

pretty weird that all these people with opinions about the budget have never been to a budget meeting.
a local homeowner is upset about the increase in assessed value of his home. he’s also upset the city plans to build affordable housing in his neighborhood and doesn’t feel he was sufficiently consulted.
some people’s public comments make three minutes feel like a goddamn lifetime. two VHS tapes-worth, like titanic.
like i just had a long, vivid daydream about abolishing capitalism while this hotel manager talked about how proud he is to pay most of his employees what is almost a living wage.
you whiny bitches wanna talk about the free market, well here it is. you saturated it. don’t come to the city and ask for handouts and tax incentives.
for the record, public comment is three minutes per speaker with an optional two minute response period from council. they are allowing business owners to essentially give lengthy presentations & engage in long conversations with council. this is not appropriate.
the next speaker is delivering a petition asking for increased climate protection & asking for a climate action plan.
the speaker is presenting kathy galvin with a drawing from her five year old daughter, saying she is this community’s lorax.
next speaker is delivering the petition about divestment. he says he was surprised to find out the city is so heavily invested in the war economy & fossil fuels.
wes asks mike murphy what it would look like to address this issue. murphy said it would start with talking to the retirement commission and the treasurer
“there is some complexity in unpacking... the city has many different investments”
sidebar, assignment for myself for later: what does a city treasurer do, actually? i only know mr vandever’s name from the bill i got in the mail for registering my dogs.
signer says energy & weapons industry investments should be looked at separatelym6pi
the speaker disagrees - the military is one of the biggest destroyers of the environment, that these wars are fought for oil. they are inextricable. he also says we shouldn’t use the word “defense” when we talk about the military.
a young woman is addressing council about the importance of affordable home ownership. her family was able to purchase a home through habitat for humanity when she was a child.
a representative from habitat for humanity says the average black resident of charlottesville has 1/10th of the wealth of the average non-black resident.
nikuyah says we need to think about the number of units that would be created and the conditions of people currently living in public housing.

she also asks people who address council to come with solutions “other than not taxing you”
the next speaker says he thinks the budget can be balanced without tax increases.
“tax increases have consequences,” he says ominously. he’s specifically concerned about a possible meals tax increase.
again, for someone this concerned about the budget he sure has never been to any budget meeting or work session.
this dude is VERY AGGRESSIVE, interrupting the mayor, raising his voice, making wild assertions about how he personally balanced the city budget... he owns maya in midtown. my mom loves that place. we will find someplace else to eat next time she visits.
every angry business owner at public comment makes me 10% more communist
speak of the devil, it’s joan fenton from the downtown business association.
lmao “the business community” fucking kill me
“the city has better ways of getting income,” joan fenton says, speaking against raising taxes.
“a lot of businesses feel fragile, they feel threatened,” says the old white business owner about the city’s efforts to raise taxes to invest in affordable housing & address serious racial inequity.
i spent all day drinking coffee & looking at, listening to, and archiving nazis sniping at each other. i have a lot of pent up energy and listening to all these business owners complain they aren’t being adequately pandered to is making me feel REAL WILD.
next up is a representative from the charlottesville low income housing coalition. she says it’s important to invest in the entire spectrum of housing, from homelessness to home ownership.
of homeslessness, “we are far too wealthy a city to have this” kind of problem
annie from CLIHC: charlottesville has a real estate tax lower than the state median but a higher than average median income.
“it’s time for the very wealthy here to start paying their fair share”
“we have to protect the most vulnerable” members of the community
nikuyah says the budget proposal includes an expanded tax relief program for low income home owners.
we’re still in recess but it’s almost powerpoint time
we are back from recess and all the angry old people with opinions about tax rates have gone home. why didn’t they stay for the actual presentation & discussion about the budget? 🤔
the second half of the livestream is here

city school board chair mckeever is presenting the proposed school budget. talking now about the half million in cuts they had to make in the last round

she says they would really like to be able to fund the AVID teacher & math teacher positions they had to cut. as discussed at the last school board meetKC7j
now it’s interim city manager mike murphy’s turn to give a powerpoint. on to the proposed city budget.
i hate budget season
lots of jobs. low unemployment. low vacancy rates. lots of new development.
all the people furious about the possibility of a real estate tax increase aren’t here to hear mike murphy say the current budget proposal doesn’t actually include a real estate tax increase.
mike murphy just fucking roasted the angry restaurant owner from public comment. too bad he didn’t stick around.
despite the restaurant industry’s concerns, there is no evidence anyone changes their mind about eating out based on meals tax rates.
murphy says choosing the trout at maya would cost your family maybe an extra dollar, ultimately insignificant & unlikely to affect your choizKlT
regarding the lodging tax rates, murphy says most hotel choices are based on proximity - walkability to downtown & uva, specifically.
regarding occupancy rates, he says the city added 400 rooms last year. it’s simple supply and demand.
mike murphy says the restaurant industry’s own presentation says there are the same number of restaurants now as there were before -
“every time one goes away, something else pops in there.”
he says the restaurant industry is quite healthy.
i wonder what prompted the city to create these two new positions
our DMV is apparently the second busiest in the state. soon they will be adding “DMV select” - which will allow you to access certain DMV services at city hall.
i was just wondering the other day if the county’s over-prosecution of crimes as felonies would lead to the city paying a decreased share of the cost of the local jail. turns out, yes. our contribution went down $125k.
“there’s only so many things you can pay for at any one given time,” mike murphy says.

(i hate budget season)
there are a lot more meetings about the budget.

(note that the meeting on the 16th is actually at 2pm, not 6pm)
we could be out of here in an hour if we’re lucky 🙏
if you, like me, do not know exactly what “critical slopes waiver” means, here is an article from @EDevonRobinson

the planning commission recommended council approve the waiver. we’ve heard public comment at the last two council meetings from city residents & housing advocates encouraging council to approve.
and it carries 5-0. now on to the LAST agenda item! imposition of fees for fire department inspections.
discussion of the issue starts on p 154 of the agenda background
city fire chief baxter says at the beginning of the budget process, they were asked if there was any potential revenue they could bring in to offset their costs. the city code allows them to levy fees for inspection, which they’ve not been doing up to this point.
he says the county (and many other localities) already do this. when asked why the city hasn’t been doing this up to this point, he says there isn’t a clear answer to that.
yeah baby, this is the minutiae of municipal government i am here for. we are talking about the specific kinds of propane tanks used by food trucks.
heather hill wants to know if it would be possible to allow people with mobile operations (like food trucks) to just pay the inspection fee on one jurisdiction rather than pay for the city & county inspections, since the safety inspections are comparable.
the city attorney says this is theoretically possible, but it would require the county to amend their own fee schedule ordinance.
mike murphy says this is a good conversation to have with the county executive, but it would be difficult to figure out how we would share that revenue.
when asked if there is a date by which they expect to begin collecting the fees, baxter says no, but then “certainly by the end of the fiscal year” (which would mean by july 1)
no vote on the fire safety inspection fees tonight - it’ll go on the next agenda. we’re now all the way through the scheduled agenda items but kathy wants to talk about synthetic tax increment finance districts
(i don’t know what that means)
she’s advocating designating a zone (she throws out perhaps all of water street) whose tax revenue would be earmarked for the affordable housing fund. it would ensure a steady funding stream, “and we could go above that,” but it would establish a floor.
there is exactly zero enthusiasm on the dais for what kathy is saying. i don’t know if it’s because what she’s saying is boring & complicated, just because it’s late, or if they genuinely don’t like the idea. i think it’s a combination of the first two.
heather raises the proposed joint session with the CRB. signer is opposed to it, saying they should just present at a council meeting. wes & nikuyah are in favor of a work session.
everyone recognizes this will have to be after budget season1J2P
nobody wants more meetings except me and even i’m on the fence about it
mike murphy says “it seems to me this is meaty enough” to warrant a two hour meeting.
they’re going to try to nail down a date in april for a joint session.
and now, closing public comment.
the first commenter cites an article in the economist that says sustainable investments outpace the market

@CvilleCityHall - several councilors asked for a link to the article. it’s in my previous tweet.
city council candidate sena magill asks
about this particular cut to the school budget & the potential loss of this grant money. nikuyah says they did not tell the schools what to 8oqR
and with that, the meeting is adjourned. BEFORE 11pm?!? unheard of!
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