Bill Bestpitch and Delegate-elect Chris Head
“If any of this looks like, feels like a tax increase it isn’t going to happen,” said Delegate Ware.
City Attorney Bill Hackworth presented his 24th and final legislative program before he retires at the end of the month. First on the list again this year was the TransDominion Express Commission proposed by Sen. John Edwards. The commission when established would identify needed infrastructure and resolve conflicts with freight rail in an effort to provide passenger service for Roanoke.
The city found a friendly new delegate in Chris Head to champion passenger rail service. Delegate-elect Head said he saw it from a “business owner” perspective. Transportation in and out of the valley inhibits business growth. “Rail transportation will help that,” he said.
Hackworth asked for restoration of the $1.5 million of state budget cuts to localities. That would be difficult admitted delegate Ware – “if any of this looks like, feels like a tax increase it isn’t going to happen.”
Control of the discharge of pneumatic weapons should be restored to densely populated localities having less then 1000 persons per square mile said Hackworth. Police personnel have difficulty discerning them from real guns and some of them are extremely powerful.
Alcalde & Fay consultants Robert Catron and Randy Cook
If only one thing gets done is this session it is either for the state pay for unfunded mandates or repeal them. Hackworth pointed to the governor’s study commission that had already produced 31 pages of mandates that could be eliminated.
“If you look at them they are just ridiculous,” said Hackworth. “We’re all behind the governors effort to streamline the government.”
Other wish list items include a solution to the problem of owners who move their boats and planes in an effort to escape taxation. The city estimates it loses $1.75 million of revenue annually.
The city also is asking for an increase in the vacant building fee from $25 to $250 a year and nuisance abatement that would allow the city to go on an owner’s property to correct overgrowth.
Delegate Onzlee Ware
Vice-Mayor David Trinkle had a few more items: Continued funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts, conservation easement incentives, domestic violence fees, outdoor lighting and smoking regulation, banning plastic bags, and legal advertising cost reduction.
Council member Anita Price added the need for stricter control of predatory lenders and stressed that the General Assembly should not shortchange schools. “A balanced budged is important but not on the backs of our school children,” she said.
Ware said with the onslaught of virtual schools, charter schools, private Christian schools, homeschools – “we’re in a dog fight for the public school systems … I can’t just in a vacuum say without careful thought they shouldn’t have some benefit,” said Ware. Though Roanoke City is somewhat socioeconomically depressed “that’s just the reality … money alone has no impact on how much you can learn.” He said the school system should continue on its path of improving the graduation rate.
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Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Education, Politics, Roanoke City Politics, Roanoke City Public Schools, State Politics
Tags: city_council, general_assembly, house_of_delegates, legislators, Roanoke City Public Schools