CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville City Council is figuring out how to spend millions of taxpayer dollars, a decision that comes in the midst of uncertain times created by the coronavirus crisis.
It was the final meeting of the body in 2020 and the last for about a month. It was also without Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who was absent.
The council was tasked with spending extra money, both from the general fund from fiscal year 2020, and the CARES Act.
Charlottesville has $3.9 million leftover from FY2020, and city council decided to put it toward the Capital Improvement Program’s contingency reserve. Council says this move provides future flexibility, potentially for public housing, which was requested during public comment by a few Charlottesville residents.
“It’s a good place to park money right now as we wait to see how bad things keep getting,” said Council Member Sena Magill.
Chris Cullinan, the city’s director of finance, said it’s “a good thought.”
“Cash is always good to have on hand,” he said.
The Charlottesville Fire Department will have the cash to afford 15 new firefighters thanks to a long-awaited $3.5 million SAFER grant.
As for the Federal CARES Act, the money has to be allocated by the end of the year, so council will reimburse the city for police, fire, and sheriff’s office payroll costs. They say this move could provide some crucial budgetary relief.
“Ultimately without additional CARES Act funding from Washington it’s probably going to result in the decrease of some additional revenue sources,” said Acting City Manager John Blair.
Looking ahead, council was also briefed on a slight decrease in FY2021 funds. Projections show it’s down about 2.5 percent.
“We still have seven more months to go and we’ve already used three quarters of the cushion,” Magill said. “That’s very, that’s very real.”
Council Member Lloyd Snook also mentioned the projected decrease is for the entire fiscal year, which means there will be enough “cushion” as long as projected revenue doesn’t go down even more.