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Charlottesville City Council signs off on reduced fiscal year 2021 budget

Charlottesville has given the final approval to a budget deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

City councilors unanimously signed off on the $191.2 million budget for fiscal 2021, which starts July 1, during its virtual meeting Monday.

The city, like local governments throughout the country, had to adjust on the fly as the pandemic hit at the pinnacle of the budget process.

City officials have said they are expecting a loss of revenue of at least $8.4 million over the current and next fiscal year from the pandemic, but the number could be a conservative estimate.

The city is projecting a 2.7% loss in revenue, but Albemarle County is projecting a loss of 7.2%.

The plan approved Monday is a $5.4 million decrease from City Manager Tarron Richardson’s original plan.

City officials did not comment on the budget during this final reading. A handful of speakers weighed in on the spending plan before it was approved.

If city revenues decline further than projected, the council can amend the budget, but it had to approve a balanced spending plan by June 30.

The city was bolstered by a guarantee of $14.5 million in revenue from Albemarle County via a revenue-sharing agreement that would help Charlottesville avoid operating budget cuts in the next fiscal year.

The city also deferred the roughly $7 million transfer to the Capital Improvement Program. The total program was proposed at $127.9 million over five years and included $35.3 million for fiscal 2021.

The total for fiscal 2021 was cut to about $28 million, with many projects delayed or having funding stretched over different budget years.

Capital projects have been delayed or had funding stretched over different budget years. The projects include the first part of the city’s commitment to construct a parking garage under an agreement with Albemarle County to keep county courts downtown; a new Belmont Bridge; expanding the Charlottesville General District Court; and various public housing redevelopment projects.

The city’s contribution to the school division is $58.6 million, a $1.3 million increase over the current year.

Notable reductions from Richardson’s initial proposal were a new Department of Equity and Inclusion, a new deputy sheriff and funding for Unity Days.

The meeting was briefly interrupted after an anonymous user came on the electronic meeting platform under the moniker “Adolf Hitler” and began spamming the question and answer section with racial epithets and Nazi calling cards.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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