With the New Year fast approaching Clarke County Supervisors are working to establish priorities for 2011. Not surprisingly, water quality and protection, taxes and education are all top priorities for the coming year.
Water Supply Planning: Supervisors are endorsing planning over politics when it comes to regional water supply plans. The Commonwealth will be asked to honor minimum in-stream flow targets to protect aquatic life as well as recreational uses.
Chesapeake Bay Protection: Supervisors will push for a supportable protection plan for the Bay through a budget that can be supported by farmers, towns and citizens.
Groundwater Quality: Reacting to legislation earlier in the year from Richmond that opened the flood gates for alternative septic systems without regard to local hydrology and other concerns, Supervisors hope to gain local oversight and control of systems where local environmental conditions are not favorable.
Cost Shifting: Clarke County opposes recent cost shifting efforts by Richmond that have resulted in a reduction of aid to localities. The budget shifting leaves little option for localities to replace lost funding from Richmond other than through raising real estate taxes.
Education: Clarke County will ask the Commonwealth of Virginia to step up to its fair share of K-12 public education costs without further reducing other parts of the budget affecting local government. The County also is supporting a change in how the Composite Index is calculated so as to recognize average median income rather than total countywide income.
Transportation: User fees rather than General Fund revenues should be used for transportation improvements so as to avoid General Fund competition for education, natural resources and other important programs. As with other cost-shifting strategies by Richmond lawmakers, Clarke opposes taking financial responsibility for local transportation issues, in part, because small counties do not have the scale of work to support efficient provision of such services.
Broadband: Clarke County will ask Richmond to find ways to encourage private vendors to provide rural universal access to broadband internet services to rural communities in hilly areas.
Growth Management: Clarke supports full funding of the purchase of development rights program that has been suggested by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and the Farm Bureau.
County Rights: The Dillon Rule should be abandoned or modified and opposes any legislation that would reduce county rights.
Waste and Litter Control: Clarke would like Richmond to give counties the power to control the commercial use of throw-away plastic bags. Also, Clarke County supports the Beverage Container Bill.
Power Lines: Clarke supports legislation that would require part, or all, of new transmission lines to be placed underground is economic or environmental studies show that undergrounding is a viable alternative to overhead lines.
Tax Reform: Clarke County supports reform of the BPOL tax, supports passage of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project agreement that would compel out-of-state vendors to collect and remit sales tax due from Virginia citizens and opposes repeal of the Machinery and Tools tax.