Deficit looming: City hears grim fiscal prediction

news-citydeficitThe deficit would reach $8 million in 2016.

Unless something dramatically changes, the City is on course for an ever-swelling deficit that could top $8 million a year by fiscal 2016. That's according to a grim presentation to City Council by City budget director Leslie Beauregard.

"The farther out we go, the wider the gap becomes," said Beauregard.

She noted that state funding appears flat and that Albemarle County's contributions to the City, via the so-called Revenue Sharing Agreement, will bottom out two years from now about three quarters of a million dollars below the current level of $18.5 million.

Another problem area is property taxes, which have fallen six percent below the current City budget. Despite the prospect of red ink, Beauregard doesn't appear to be feeling blue.

"Things are looking better than this time last year," said Beauregard. "We were pretty depressed this time last year."

Indeed, during last year's preliminary budget report, released two months before the announced retirement of former City Manager Gary O'Connell, the deficit was expected to swell much higher: to $11 million by 2015.

Further fueling optimism in Beauregard's Monday, November 15 presentation was the fact that meals and lodging taxes have actually climbed above projections.

"We were pleasantly surprised by these–- especially lodging," said Beauregard, noting that the tax on hotel rooms appears on track to finish Fiscal Year 2011 about 5.5 percent ahead of Fiscal 2010.

Council has scheduled a work session on December 2nd to discuss the budget. On December 14, the capital spending program will be the subject of a public hearing before the Planning Commission.

Virginia law doesn't actually allow localities to run deficits. The City will either need to raise taxes, cut spending–- or pray for a sudden uptick in the economy that might cause tax collections to spike.


In another fiscally disappointing glance at a crystal ball, the City watched a presentation on a federal mandate to reduce pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. The TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load program of the Environmental Protection Agency, could cost Charlottesville as much as $15.6 million annually to comply. Council endorsed a letter by the City planning director, Jim Tolbert, calling the proposed regulations too onerous.

Tolbert's letter calls on the EPA to more aggressively pursue agricultural runoff before demanding that cities and developers retrofit their infrastructure.

Read more on: charlottesville budget


"The steep slope ordinance, that often gets waived and overlooked, is a perfect example of how developers have gotten their way. Now citizens will be forced to pay for the silty mess they have made of our creeks and rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay and degrade all our water resources locally."

CityDweller, are you so arrogantly convinced and so narrowly stubborn as to believe this is the cure-all and total solution? Has it ever once occured to you, that the councilors you complimented as "SUPERHUMAN" might have even encouraged (directly or through letting staff run city) every new developement? I live across the street from one of those so-called developements. Fine thing another regulatory ordinance was, one where so much buffer area is to be established between a tributary and new development. Still, it was too late because Cherry Hill fell within the grandfathered time clause. What a knee-slapper, you'd think such would have to be arranged to turn out as it sure did! Oh, and why not?

Then this insult to injury. Someone in City Hall (explitive delete) well bound knew they were replacing a segement of the main stadium sewer line artery running through that tract of new developement. Where was the restraint that our SUPERHUMAN councilors could impose upon city staff or zoning there? No, the potential in uptick from new revenue by NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPEMENT was too much too handle or resist.

Then there's meanwhile's rallying call that the county should RAISE the tax rate. Obviously, favoring a tax increase isn't such a favorable and desirable thing in the county as in Charlottesville. Could it be the county's approach is keeping taxes low, so as to entice more residents? No, my point isn't as to whether this was or wasn't a successful tact. Yeah, City Councilors certainly would welcome the company to not be alone in raising the tax rate on either side of the city/county line. That wasn't the point either. Just this, why is the county faring better in it's approach than Charlottesville? No, not everything is perfect in Albemarle either. Yet, given its farms and agriculture, it beat the City long ago to anything like regulating STEEP SLOPES before the existence of a single ordinance.

No, I hardly expect these people's conscience as such to bother them. Especially, when the same arm chair social engineers like to keep a similar mold of political smoos in council. Go ahead, run along to the next ad-hominem.


According the to daily paper, Council may look at borrowing more money rather than spend money just on priorities. It speaks to their qualifications for running a city. The Charlottesville voter gets exactly what it deserves. Of course Maurice Jones can't suggest anything else or tell what his last employer when money became scarce. Use the old credity card (bond) solution Greece.

I passed an old couple on a country road the other day, the bumper sticker on their car reads, "We Live Within Our Means"

So they made a budget full of fat, based on anticipated rises in revenue during a great big priapic bubble blowing episode in the economy and now they've gotten nipped when those projections didn't pan out. I feel for them, but I can't reach them.

Maybe they should start thinking about the basics of city government instead of all the aspirational nonsense of recent times.
I don't mean to single out Charlottesville for rough treatment on this since it is a national malady, but they really need to start by allowing natural attrition to cut staff in various departments by not filling positions when people quit or resign. The city could probably cut the fire dept. by 50% and we'd be fine. As it is they have to dream up stuff for them to do so they won't grow roots into the floors of the firehouses."Community Development" could use a haircut as well and I could go on, but not today.
The point is this town has a hypertrophied govt. which could be trimmed by quite a bit, and it should be.

The last thing we need is a spike in the property tax rate to make up for any "revenue shortfall"

If we rely only upon those who can afford to give up their careers to do a stint on Council full time, we will have a rarefied Council or a group of retirees. Most people realize that if they quit their jobs to be a full-time councilor, he won't have a job when he comes off council, unless he take bribes, most likely from developers. It's clearly a matter of economics.

"@nicknameoscar, The wording at the top of that page leades me to think that they were preparing for the 2009 - 2010 budget. The newfigurs ae fo 2010 - 2011."

No offense but it still doesn't make sense to me. They talk of "mandated" increases, how many times have numbers like that gone "down" after they go up? (pardon my cynicism)

I will admit - reading and understanding budgeting for anything larger than a household is a bit daunting for me.

Wow!!! This really shows that taxes can spur a real debate.

@nicknameoscar, The wording at the top of that page leades me to think that they were preparing for the 2009 - 2010 budget. The newfigurs ae fo 2010 - 2011.

They could start by getting through a winter with the proper reaction to snowfall. Secondly, merge with the County. There is so much duplication that goes here it's sick...The city and the county are the same (theoretically). Why not pass the savings on to the tax payer? Do we need a Sheriffs department, county fuzz, and city fuzz? I think not...That would save millions right there...They have no business accumen. How many of them have actually had to make a real payroll for a business? Not taken a check so they can pay their employees? I'd love to see Huja run a business! Ha!


Didn't the city have a surplus last year? Please correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks, CVE. So, we have extra money, know we will be needing it in the future, and someone thinks the best plan is to blow the surplus now? To top it off a few councilors want to spend a fortune on an unnecessary water project? How can these people show their faces in public?

What happened to this surplus? The City just had enough to give every employee $750.

FYI-- I just updated the story to point out that at this time last year the City was actually predicting a much deeper deficit.--hawes spencer

City School Board suggests county raise taxes:

'With Bell’s proposal, city officials say the county is avoiding its own tough choices of possibly raising taxes or revising its land-use taxation program that gives tax relief to landowners and acts as a tool for limiting development in more rural areas. ââ?¬Å?I’m happy to look for ways Charlottesville and Albemarle can logically save money through more collaboration,” city school board member Michie says, ââ?¬Å?but the keys to the county’s financial straits are in its own hands, because it is a wealthy locality with a well-below-average tax rate.”'

Dave Norris suggests county raise taxes:

ââ?¬Å?I would suggest that they start with looking at their own tax base and how they can find additional dollars within their own tax base and try to avoid creating a major setback in city-county relations,” Norris added.

Took me about 3 minutes to find these. Cville eye is simply NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

cville eye, you also miss my point and in fact have taken my words out of context so that you can hurl an attempt at an insult which is not only feeble-minded, but incorrect.

The CITY has been saying the COUNTY should raise taxes. Now they are facing a shortfall. My point is that since the CITY has been stating that the county should raise taxes, this is ht path the CITY will most likely take.

I am not saying whether this is good or not, but simply laying out the logic. It's not a very complicated point I'm making and it's surprising that you missed it completely.

I've always supported myself, thank you. I don't know why you are choosing to get personal, but you are. Maybe if you were capable of discussing public policy without attempting to insult others, I would have greater respect for your comment. As it is, you sound like a troll. Please go away.

They should cut spending first and foremost. Then think about marginally raising taxes on things like cigarettes and alcohol.


"Meanwhile’s comment is the standard liberal response; make your problem someone else’s problem."

I'd say that Conservatives are quite good at that too. At least the Liberal doesn't lie about it and pretend they pull themselves up by their own bootstraps whereas a Conservative does. Conservatives love to spend other people's money all the time, especially Liberal money.

Right now many in the County - not me - want the typical Conservative idea of having cake and eating it too. They want to the City to subsidize their water needs and roads for more sprawl development, but they really don't want to have to raise the taxes to pay for it in the County.

Currently it is the County that is not living within budget. How do they really expect to pony up for dams and such?

Is now the time to go into debt to build a $200M storage tank at Ragged Mountain Reservoir?

What about the mandated DEQ costs for the illegal sewer overflows in the City ? Where is that in the budget ?

Meanwhile's comment is the standard liberal response; make your problem someone else's problem. The City faces budget deficits because it spends too much money; it can fix the problem by either cutting spending, or raising taxes. Looking for the County to bail out the City is absurd. The Revenue Sharing deal was bad from the start, and has only become more egregious over the years. The City should take care of its own mess.

Isn't the place to start in the city runoff from steep slope development ?

Anyone wishing to see an egregious example of mud flowing into Moore's Creek, a tributary of the Rivanna River, need only drive to the end of Sunset Ave. ( city side ). Watch the runoff from the Huntley development. If they wouldn't pass ordinances to stop this, they deserve to pay $15 million annually to cleanup the Bay.

" meals and lodging taxes have actually climbed above projections," City budget director Leslie Beauregard reports.

Just think of the revenue from a completed Halsey Minor hotel. Instead of saving horse racing, maybe Mr. Minor could see completing his luxury hotel as a way to solve the city's budget woes.

city council has been very frank when discussing the revenue sharing agreement and the Bell amendment that would more fairly distribute state money: the county should raise taxes.

This is the obvious path to a balanced budget for the city government.

The EPA threat is REAL and should be given more attention. The EPA has overstepped its bounds and written rules that will not only cost the city but the county as well. The state estimates its costs just to farmers at 88 billion to move fences, build barriers, give up fertile land and buy equipment to change practices. The benefits to the bay from all of this are marginal at best especially since the James goes into the bay so far downstream from the trouble areas.

The laws as proposed will mean that it will be illegal for people within 100 feet of ANY STREAM in the city to cut down a tree, turn brush into turf and seek a permit to do any landscaping. The city will be required by federal law to comply. EVERY building permit will require an envrionmental impact study. No more driveways can be widened. gravel driveways cannot be paved. Patios and decks will not be allowed because they are "impervious surfaces" The worst part is the regulations are being written by unelected government workers at the EPA who are accountable to nobody. Now ask yourself why someone would want to work for the EPA... to save the planet from all of us who want to destroy it with a new road, building or even a paved bike path along the rivanna. (thats right.. ILLEGAL under the proposal)

They are worried about an 8 million dollar deficit from current services, add 15 million for government compliance for this program and you are 23 million in the hole. or 575 dollars for every man woman and child in the city. Every year...

here is the offical link to the watershed proposals..

Tom, I didn't make myself clear. What I meant was that since the city council has been very frank with their opinion regarding what the county should do, this would be their (the city's) obvious path to a balanced budget.

@chang, Over the past several years, the city has had over $35M in unspent/carryover funds. Last year it put over $2M in surplus in the Capital Improvement Plan as it has for several years.
@cookieJar, go to and download the agenda for November 15 with background material and you will find a detailed listing of the distribution of this year's surplus. Unfortunately the new Clerk of Council does not use internal hyperlinks on the agenda items so you will have to scroll down rather tediously until you find the material submitted by Leslie Beauregard on that item.
@CityDweller, there are some interesting videos on YouTube showing additional erosion near the new Brookwood it appears to me. Outrageously disgusting and shame on the city to permit it. That's okay, we can afford $15M a year in order to keep the developer from paying to put in safeguards beforehand.
@meanwhile... ââ?¬Å?... the county should raise taxes.” So you want the people who lost their jobs at the tire factory in Scottsville to pay more taxes? Sounds to me you have been living off of welfare for a considerable period of your life. Tom is right, support yourself.

DEQ warning letter to the city linked in this article:

@meanwhile... I am sorry that I have mistaken you but that is due to the fact that you are mistaken when you say "The CITY has been saying the COUNTY should raise taxes." I have never heard any councilor say that nor the city manager. Do lyou have any documentation or anecdotal information even to further clarify this statement? I'm very interested to know. I HAVE read city on several blogs however say that the county should raise its taxes every year that they are ready to vote on their budgets.

Maybe the MULTIMILLIONAIRE/LOVES HIS COMMUNITY MINDED HALSEY MINOR SHOULD PAY HIS $62,000 IN PROPERTY TAXES. Whether he is in BK or not he cannot duck paying taxes. They don't go away in BK so he should "man up" and pay.--------but he won't

cut spending and or payroll that's what I had to do. It hurts but it is what should be done.

Cigarettes and alcohol, same ole story. Single them out when a new or higher tax needs to be created. How about taxing Big Macs and Whoopers? They're doing as much damage to this country as cigarettes and alcohol are.

Cities and counties nationwide have laid off employees because of tax deficits. Charlottesville and Albemarle won't even consider this option. They elect instead to take surplus money and give employees a bonus now. Why not cut out the yearly bonus? Then we won't have to mess with Big Macs, Whoppers, alcohol or cigarettes.

@Meanwhile..., of the quotes you provided neither Norris or Michie actually said the county should raid its taxes. They were talking about the tax rate. Big difference when assessments are falling. Raising the tax rate may well mean that the taxes paid will actually produce the same taxes as the previous year, which is what the county school board was advocating. Question: did you provide the correct link for Miche's statement? Also, who said this: "ââ?¬Ë?With Bell’s proposal, city officials say the county is avoiding its own tough choices of possibly raising taxes or revising its land-use taxation program that gives tax relief to landowners and acts as a tool for limiting development in more rural areas?" That seems to be the words of the article's writer. There is no evidence presented in Michie's quote.
From these quotes, I can see that you are watching and that you are drawing conclusions that may or may not be correct.

Cville eye, are you honestly and sincerely stating that elected city officials are not suggesting that the county's revenue should not be raised through increased taxation?

You can split hairs all you want. But if you sincerely believe that the city, through its elected leaders, has not been advocating for higher county taxes then we'll simply have to agree to disagree.

I understand the difference between a higher tax rate and higher actual tax dollars. The bottom line is that if the county supes had voted for a higher rate last go around, the dollars collected would have been higher. So advocating for a higher rate is advocating for higher taxes.

"The bottom line is that if the county supes had voted for a higher rate last go around, the dollars collected would have been higher" Higher than what? Last year's or this year's? If not last year's then then the taxes would not have been raised. Also, I think, kbut I'm not sure, that you are using "troll" incorrectly.
"So you want the people who lost their jobs at the tire factory in Scottsville to pay more taxes?" You never answered.

I'm not getting how the city can have both a surplus and a deficit. What's going on with that?

I don't want the people who lost their jobs at the tire factory to pay more taxes, no, and I've never said they should.

Clearly elected city officials do and that's my point and has been my point. My point has remained consistent!

"and that Albemarle County’s contributions to the City, via the so-called Revenue Sharing Agreement, will bottom out two years from now about three quarters of a million dollars below the current level of $18.5 million."

Something doesn't jive !! The above statement says the Revenue Sharing Agreement (RSA) will bottom out two years from now at $17.75 million. The italicized print near the bottom of the document in the below link seems to indicate the RSA will increase by $4.4 million (to $22.6 million from the current $18.2 million).

What gives ??

j@cookiejar, the city doesn't have a deficit, yet. It is projected down the road. This year we have anet surplus even though some of revenues sources came in under budget. Also, some of the funds are being carried over into next year because they weren't spent yet. That's a bookkeeping task that is required by state law. Actually that carryover could have been reallocated to another category, but Council voted not to.

GSOE is right...if people don't want to take responsibility for their own health then tax the "H E double hockey sticks" out of fattening foods. Something tells me people will still eat them.

@cookiejar, the same way the Board of Supervisors can, even though each body may have to come up with over $10M per year o take care of TMDL obligations.

@?, curious: Who would determine if they did a good job or not. What is a good job, getting re-elected?

? I couldn't agree more. Given the job and family demands of some of the Councilors I think they are superhuman to do the job they are doing for the City . But, if we want them to provide oversight, represent ordinary citizens, and not just let staff run the city to benefit the developers, which is often the case, then we have to pay them a decent salary, so they can make this a full time job.

The steep slope ordinance, that often gets waived and overlooked, is a perfect example of how developers have gotten their way. Now citizens will be forced to pay for the silty mess they have made of our creeks and rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay and degrade all our water resources locally.

How much did the city of C-Ville spend bricking the cross walks and side walks near Court Square? Tearing up perfectly good ones so that it can look like freaking Disney Land... Sickening...They have got to get a handle on spending. Simple. Why not have full time city councilors that get paid a real wage, might attract some real businessmen, not a bunch of men and ladies that cannot possibly do two jobs well. How in the heck can these councilors actually be parents, work other jobs, have a social life and be on city council? They cannot...

Nicknameoscar, Big Mac's and donuts dont kill people, people kill people.

"Nicknameoscar, Big Mac’s and donuts dont kill people, people kill people."

If people want to kill themselves by eating irresponsibly then go ahead. Just don't make me have to pay the price for their irresponsibility through higher taxes and higher insurance premiums. Let them pay higher taxes on their beloved Big Mac's and donuts along with higher taxes and insurance premiums. Same goes for smoking, alchohol and drug abuse.

@ Ken Jamme
I am going to have to find one of those bumper stickers. I have always been against putting a bumper sticker on my car but I might have to make an exception for that one :-)

Not if you paid em 100 grand a year and bonuses if they do a good job like a real freaking business people. And if you made em all run as independents, who cares what their stance is on national politics, or their view on that certain women's care issue... City council has been horrible for 30 years... Look around town and see what they have done... They have blown millions and what have they done? I'm sure some folks would say bricking the mall was something great they did... Not much else...

A lot of houses in the City have sold for less than their assessed value. Commercial property (such as ice skating rink) sold for 1/2 of its assessed value. I have a feeling if a neutral 3rd party came in and redid the assessments residential & commercial in the City it would come out much lower than the independent "neutral" assessor's office in the City says it is worth.


"some real businessmen"

Why is it that so many people, primarily those of the right, think that 'businessmen' or businesswomen' for that matter, will fix government and somehow make it go right? TARP was brought to you by????

That's right. Businessmen. Successful ones like Henry Paulson. How'd that work out for the taxpayer?

Businessmen/women have a very bad habit of continuing to do business while they are in government roles, usually favoring their industries, or their business friends, or just doing what they did in business -run it into the ground.

The purpose of government is not to run a business or to make money. It is to provide a combination of communal services such as roads,a framework for civilized existence such as police/fire departments/noise ordinances, and a path for citizens to seek redress/justice. This should be done at the greatest value for the taxpayer, but not necessarily the lowest cost, because chiseling gets you crap service, right? You don't want our services offshored, now do we?

You need someone highly ethical with common sense, a good understanding of economics, that considers fiscal responsibility one of the seven virtues. Do not assume this is only going to be found, or even will be found, in the business community. A great place to find that might well be from the US State Department, or Treasury Department, when they have retired after 20 years, and are looking for a second career.There are many other places, but that is just one.

Mary Kay or Avon? You think that's worse than being a chiropractor?

@? "And if you made em all run as independents..." our school board members are supposed to fun as independents but many of them run with the Democratic Party's help. Desgnating someone as an independent does not asure us of getting better representation.

A chiropractor has done way more for my quality of life than a woman with caked on coats of makeup ever will that's for sure...I do love the pink caddy's though. Sweet...

@? "A chiropractor has done way more for my quality of life than a woman with caked on coats of makeup ever will that’s for sure”ŠI do love the pink caddy’s though. Sweet”Š" The train she brought here is worth more to me than a cracked back that just seems to need cracking, and more cracking, and more cracking. Thanks for letting me know your mentality. BTW, she looked great dressed up in hells and makeup.

I'm a flaming liberal businessman that uses common sense to run my business. Henry Paulson would be a terrible councilman...Not as bad as Kevin Lynch who told me that he would like to outlaw cars in Charlottesville or Meridith Richards, who I believe was involved in Mary Kay or Avon?