City and county tax values decline
The real estate market in Charlottesville and Albemarle is still contracting. In the city, the total value of taxable property decreased by 1.22 percent, and existing residential property declined in value by 3.08 percent. Commercial property, however, increased by 0.84 percent. Albemarle County’s taxable values declined by 3 percent, with residential properties reporting a decline of 3.05 percent. Each of the county’s seven magisterial districts showed declines in the past year, from 0.98 percent in the Rivanna district to 3.68 percent in that Jack Jouett district. The biggest decline, 4.52 percent, was registered in the Town of Scottsville. Reassessment notices for county residents will be mailed this week.
Commonwealth is growing, growing, growing
Since 2010, the population of the Commonwealth has grown by 1.2 percent to 8 million residents, compared to a 1 percent growth rate nationally. Virginia reported the 13th-highest growth rate compared to other states, according to the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center. Although Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads saw the largest population growth within the state, the center reports that some of the fastest growing areas were independent cities like Fredericksburg, which grew at a 4.9 percent rate. However, 35 localities in the state, mostly Southwest and Southside Virginia, saw population loss.
Homeschoolers can play, for now
A House bill sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell that would allow homeschooled students to play sports at public schools has passed the House Education Committee and is headed to the full chamber for a vote. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that 22 states allow homeschoolers to play sports or attend classes in public schools, but opponents of the bill argue that public school children are on a set schedule that requires them to follow rules. The bill prohibits public schools from joining an organization “governing interscholastic programs” that does not allow homeschoolers who have shown progress, are under 19, plus other rules, to participate.
Human rights commission on the rocks
Members of the Dialogue on Race’s Policy Action Team have proposed a human rights commission with the ultimate goal to enforce non-discriminatory practices in housing and private businesses. The commission, designed with investigative and enforcing authority, calls for an initial investment of $300,000 and an annual budget of $200,000. City Manager Maurice Jones, after a few weeks of due diligence, is recommending that City Council study the commission for one year and establish a task force that will report back in February 2013 with its own set of recommendations.
“We have had several initiatives like the Dialogue on Race and it always ends with a call for more studies and we just feel that at this point, we’d like to break the cycle of the city creating an initiative and at the end calls for more study,” said Walter Heinecke, member of the Policy Action Team and vocal supporter of the commission.
Louisa still shakes
According to the U.S, Geological Society, Louisa County felt another significant aftershock on Monday, January 30 at around 6:39pm. This time, the shock measured 3.2 in magnitude and is the latest in approximately 60 aftershocks felt since the 5.8 earthquake that rattled the county in late August. The initial tremor was felt along the East Cost and FEMA has recently approved disaster relief assistance for Albemarle and King George counties. According to a news release from Governor Bob McDonnell’s office, “the federal Individual Assistance Program provides grants, disaster housing assistance and low-interest loans.” The deadline to register is March 5.