In brief: Rotunda breakage, budget burdens, alleged perv and more

Living wage demonstration March 1.
Eze Amos Living wage demonstration March 1. Eze Amos

Breaking news

On the first of the month, UVA students rallied outside of the Rotunda, where the Board of Visitors was set to discuss living wage for university employees. While it’s currently $13.79, students would like to see it set at $16, and demanded so by slapping their hands against Rotunda windows until one broke.

Gone wrong

Xavier Murphy, 24, was sentenced February 26 to 13 years and 8 months for voluntary manslaughter in the shooting of Tatiana Wells, his girlfriend and mother of his child, last June in the Days Inn. Murphy is the cousin of Alexis Murphy, who was murdered in 2013, and his mother is an advocate against domestic abuse.

Alleged molester pleads

Former Albemarle school psychologist Richard Sidebottom, 74, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery of a child under 14 and indecent liberties involving girls aged 4 and 11. According to the Daily Progress, a 2009 allegation was not prosecuted, but the case was revived in 2018 with another report that included Sidebottom wearing shorts that exposed his genitals and masturbating nude in front of the windows in his home.

Where’s he going?

Ryan Jones

Rick Shannon, UVA Health System’s executive vice president of six years, announced March 4 that he’s stepping down in May. Shannon and President Jim Ryan didn’t allude to any future plans for the hospital’s head honcho, and neither did a UVA spokesperson, but Shannon did say this: “The time has come for new leadership to guide this great organization into the future.”

To the landfill

If you’ve been recycling your No. 3 through No. 7 plastics, like sandwich bags, PVC pipe, and styrofoam, you won’t be for long—and they’ve likely already ended up in a Raleigh, North Carolina dump, according to Charlottesville Tomorrow. The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority voted last week to stop accepting those materials, effective July 1, because the Chinese market for them is closed.

Quote of the week

“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuse or lavish praise can change that.”—Fred and Cindy Warmbier, on the president’s recent statement that he believes the North Korean dictator didn’t know about the treatment of their son, UVA student Otto Warmbier

City budget breakdown

It’s that time of the year again, when the city manager—or interim city manager in this case—proposes his budget for the next fiscal year. This time, Mike Murphy is requesting $189 million for 2020, a 5 percent increase over the current year’s adopted budget.

The increase in meals tax from 5 to 6 percent has some folks in the restaurant industry reeling, out of fear that lower- and middle-income people will be priced out
of feasting on their fare.

Murphy says a meals tax is less of a burden on local residents than a real estate tax, pointing out that a significant percentage
of restaurant meals—the city estimates 35 percent or more—are paid for by tourists.

The proposed budget keeps the city’s real estate tax rate at 95 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value, but it’s been advertised as two cents higher to give City Council some flexibility as it reviews the budget proposal before its April adoption. Though it may sound like pocket change, the additional two pennies would add up to $1.6 million, says Murphy.

Here’s a bit more of the budget breakdown:

• A lodging, or transient occupancy, tax on hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other short-term rentals, increased from 7 to 8 percent.

• Just over $10 million is proposed to go toward affordable housing, with an additional $33 million or so in the five-year capital program reserved for several initiatives, including improvements at Friendship Court.

• The budget asks for funding for three new jobs:

  • A centralized safety coordinator within the office of risk management, who would make $43,020, and serve as a staff member to guide policy and practice on things such as emergency preparedness and event planning. Says Murphy, “There are a lot of different ways that safety and security need to continue to be addressed…but we do need somebody to spearhead those efforts.”
  • A $132,729 security manager at the police department, who would make the city’s security plans, policies, and infrastructure.
  • A support services manager in Neighborhood Development Services for $56,670, because Murphy says assistant director Missy Creasy has her hands full, and a new position would help spread out her work.

City schools will be allocated an extra $3.37 million, the largest increase in over a decade, to total $88 million. The city’s capital improvement program will also give about $6 million to schools.

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