How to spend $162 million: The city’s budget increases 3.5 percent

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Over the next three fiscal years, City Manager Maurice Jones is proposing $10 million for improvements to West Main Street. Photo by Jack Looney Over the next three fiscal years, City Manager Maurice Jones is proposing $10 million for improvements to West Main Street. Photo by Jack Looney

Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones presented his proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 to City Council on March 7.

The $161,871,784 budget is a 3.5 percent increase over 2016’s fiscal year budget, which was approved at $156,391,435. The latest budget is Jones’ sixth version.

“The biggest chunk is going to the schools,” he says, and overall, he is proposing an additional $1.9 million for city schools, along with a 1 percent increase in the lodging tax rate to help offset the cost of school funding. The increase will add $566,000 in revenue.

The tax rate will stay the same at 95 cents per $100 of assessed value; because property values increased by 2.56 percent in 2015, the city made an extra $3.1 million in property tax revenue.

In just two words, Jones says he can summarize next year’s budget as allocating money for “quality services” in the city. And, in his opinion, one of the most significant capital improvement projects in the works is the development of a $1.7 million skate park at McIntire Park.

Renovations to Charlottesville’s circuit and general district courts are also a priority, with $4.5 million projected for circuit court renovations over a five-year span and $500,000 in the current budget for design. An additional $500,000 is proposed for general district court renovations, which will require more than $7 million over the five years.

Over the next three fiscal years, Jones is proposing $10 million for improvements to West Main Street. In five years, $1 million will be used to install new sidewalks and almost $500,000 will go toward maintaining underground utilities.

By 2025, City Council’s vision for Charlottesville is for it to be “America’s healthiest city,” and Jones says the budget supports that by allocating money for keeping up with parks and recreation “to help ensure that people have opportunities to exercise.” Over the next two fiscal years, $1.5 million will go toward implementing the McIntire Park master plan.

Minor changes to some services will save almost $400,000, Jones says. Those include reducing pool hours at the Washington Park Pool and a change to the Charlottesville Area Transit route 7, which will reduce the number of operating buses to six per hour, instead of seven. Wait times between buses on that route will increase to 20 minutes, up from 15 minutes.

Council will meet March 10 for a budget work session.

BUDGET BREAKDOWN

$161,871,784: Total budget is a 3.5 increase over 2016 fiscal year budget

No change: Tax rate stays the same, 95 cents per $100 of assessed value

$63,569,933: City schools get the biggest piece of the general fund budget pie, with an increase of $1.9 million

$3.1 million: The additional revenue from property values, which increased 2.56 percent in 2015

$10 million: Amount slated for West Main improvements

$1.5 million: for the McIntire Park
master plan