The Albemarle County School Board took action at its meeting Thursday and authorized Delegate Rob Bell (R-58th) to submit a budget amendment in the 2010 General Assembly session that would modify the state funding formula for education. The amendment would have the state budget factor in the County's revenue sharing agreement with the City of Charlottesville and increase Albemarle's state funding by about $2.6 million.
The current state funding formulas have the effect of giving Albemarle a greater "ability to pay" because it does not recognize the $18 million that will be paid next year to Charlottesville in revenue sharing. Delegate Bell's budget amendment, if approved in both the house and senate, would take the $2.6 million from the City's state funding allocation for schools.
I voted against the proposal for the following reasons:
- Three members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors encouraged me not to take this approach. The Supervisors on Thursday suggested that a better legislative strategy would be to have the state's composite index take land use taxation into account for all localities. Currently, Albemarle's "ability to pay" is based on the full assessed value of property, and not the reduced value for property in the land use program.
- Once the Albemarle County School Board decided to investigate this issue (which I fully supported), I had very positive conversations with both city councilors and city school board members. They expressed a strong interest in improved cooperation and in efforts to jointly find ways to lower the cost of education for both localities. Thus, I thought the fact we had raised the possibility of pursuing the budget amendment had already had a positive result and further action would cause the city to withdraw.
- I believed the $2.6 million, while certainly helpful for our schools in the face of a $8 to $10 million budget gap for FY2011, might actually cost Albemarle taxpayers more if the city responded by raising costs in other joint services to off-set the loss of education funding.
The budget amendment received the support of the school board by a 4-3 vote. It was a tough decision and I changed my mind on this issue in the days leading up to our meeting. Members in the majority emphasized that this was about fairness in the state funding formulas and not about Charlottesville's funding per se. They said pursuing the amendment might result in greater opportunities for co-operation and negotiations about things like the 1982 revenue sharing agreement.
This is an important public policy issue and it was covered in both a Daily Progress article and editorial. Below are links to those articles and a podcast of the School Board's 1-hour discussion.
Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20091210-ACPS
City, county need to talk
12/13/2009 * Daily Progress Editorial [full story]
When money gets really tight, the gloves come off. They’re almost off between Albemarle County and Charlottesville.
County School Board members on Thursday voted 4-3 to ask the General Assembly to change the formula that determines how much the two local school divisions receive from the state to pay for educational programs. The “composite index” takes into account various factors, including population and local wealth to determine what share of local school funding a locality should foot, with the state paying the rest.
The county School Board vote reflects a belief that adjusting the index formula to better account for the money Albemarle gives the city every year via revenue-sharing will mean more state education money for Albemarle. The county is scheduled to give the city $18 million in the next fiscal year.
Albemarle wants funds from city for schools12/11/2009 * Daily Progress [full story]
By Brandon Shulleeta
The Albemarle County School Board took up a fight Thursday — with some reluctance — for an estimated $2.6 million that board members believe the state unfairly plans to give Charlottesville schools.
The state uses a formula to determine how much money to give localities for education, based on population and finances, but some Albemarle officials believe the formula cheats Albemarle and gives the money to Charlottesville.
“They have our money,” School Board member Jon Stokes said. “We need money.”
Albemarle owes Charlottesville about $18 million next fiscal year as part of a revenue-sharing agreement reached years ago to prevent the city from annexing land in the county. The state’s “composite index” counts that money toward Albemarle’s revenue wealth — but some Albemarle officials say it should be counted against Charlottesville, because Charlottesville has access to that money, not Albemarle.
A representative for Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, said that she’d report to Bell today that the School Board voted in favor of requesting state legislation that would adjust the composite index formula in favor of Albemarle and to the detriment of Charlottesville.