Charlottesville, Albemarle lobbying lawmakers to help renovate schools

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 12:51 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville and Albemarle County schools are in need of some renovations, which won’t come cheap. They’re asking lawmakers to pass a bill that would finance the changes.

The city and county are both asking Virginia to raise the sales tax to pay for renovation projects.

“Senator [Creigh] Deeds has introduced a bill that would give Charlottesville and Albemarle the right to add 1% to the sales tax, where that 1% would be dedicated to new school construction,” Mayor Lloyd Snook said Thursday, January 19.

Mayor Snook and Albemarle County Supervisor Chair Donna Price recently spoke in front of the Senate Finance Committee, but any legislation has a ways to go before it can become law: “The voters in Charlottesville would have to say, ‘yes, we want to spend that extra 1% on our school reconstruction needs,’” the mayor said.

If the money was raised in property taxes it would all be out of local pockets, but making it a sales tax spreads that out to people who live here and tourists too.

“They should help pay for some of the costs of making this a desirable place to visit, rather than all of these costs being placed upon the backs of our property owners,” Price said.

Snook says the schools need to be brought up to current standards and security has to be increased.

“There’s no security 50 years ago, 60 years ago, we weren’t thinking that way. We weren’t thinking about school shooters, we weren’t thinking about dangerous situations. ‘Open campus’ was the was the phrase that everybody was using. Nowadays, people look at an open campus, and they’re horrified,” the mayor said.

Price says Albemarle needs more schools.

“Our existing schools, even with expansions, if there were a space to expand is inadequate to cover our expanding student population. So we need to build new schools in new areas where our population has grown. So we’re not just putting more kids on buses going further distances,” Price said.

The proposed bill didn’t make it through the House back in 2022, but Snook is more hopeful this year.

“There’s a little bit more emphasis on paying attention to schools. Governor [Glenn] Younkin has talked about trying to do something to improve schools,” the mayor said. “This would be Charlottesville solving Charlottesville’s problems with Charlottesville’s money with Charlottesville’s affirmative vote. Let us do that.”

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