As our delegates in Richmond begin the new session with a surplus of funds, our local administrators are making their case for a piece of the budget.
Although their wish lists are long, when it comes to this year's funding, the two top priorities are transportation and education. Both the city and Albemarle County hope some of the state's billion-dollar surplus will help to expand Charlottesville's bus system.
More bicycle roadways are another goal, as well as increased rail transportation, but even more importantly is the need for better roadways. Albemarle County's Sally Thomas says the county's lack of funding often delays work on roads that need it the most.
“Meodowcreek Parkway is an obvious one and the interchange at the end of Meadowcreek parkway," says Thomas. "There are other roads that have been called the six-year list, but in fact is spread out over 20 to 25 years at the current funding."
Another issue topping the list is education, particularly a program known as the Comprehensive Services Act. The program provides special education to children with handicaps or emotional problems.
Although the state is mandated to have the program, the city says for the past five years its cost has gone up nearly $500,000 every year. That's a whopping amount the city can't afford without the proper support.
"Charlottesville has a lot of children that fall under that program," said City Council Member Blake Caravati. "It's one of those mandated programs; we have to do it, but we don't get the money needed to fund it properly."
If history repeats itself, the city and county may not get all that they ask for. They now have 44 days to find out what the Legislature’s decision will be.