Charlottesville’s City Council is ready to take the first step in approving a reduced spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The council will hold a virtual public hearing and first reading on a scaled-back budget for fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1, during its meeting Monday.
The revised budget is $191.2 million, a decrease of $5.4 million from City Manager Tarron Richardson’s original plan.
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. Other governments are expecting revenue shortfalls of around 5% to 6% and Albemarle County is projecting a loss of 7.2%, but the city’s proposal projects only a 2.7% loss of revenue.
If revenues continue to decline, the council can amend the budget, but must approve a balanced spending plan by June 30.
The council has given the greenlight for increased funding for the school division over fiscal 2020 levels to cover unavoidable expenses. The total contribution would be $58.6 million, a $1.3 million increase over the current year.
Capital projects also have been delayed or had funding stretched over different budget years so that the city could set aside about $8.9 million for any unplanned expenses caused by the pandemic.
At the meeting, the council also will receive a report about staff’s capacity to run live broadcasts of some meetings of its boards and commissions that could be held electronically during the pandemic.
The council, Planning Commission, Board of Architectural Review and Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority have meetings broadcast live on the city’s public access channel.
At a work session Wednesday, a majority of the council tentatively supported allowing electronic meetings for the Board of Equalization, Ridge Street Task Force, Housing Advisory Committee, Retirement Commission, Human Rights Commission and the Community Development Block Grant/HOME Task Force.
The council asked for more details on the burden of providing a live broadcast on the public access channel rather than airing the other meetings after the fact and whether a communications employee or board chair should host the meeting through online software. The Electoral Board also is being considered as a body whose meetings could be broadcast live.
The council also wanted more information on what type of business the Planning Commission could conduct in virtual meetings.
In other business, the council is set to give final approval to direct its portion of federal coronavirus relief money.
The city received $246,699 in March from the federal government through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant. The money will be allocated through the city’s CDBG program and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission HOME program.
The money is on top of $419,367 in CDBG funds and $80,594 in HOME funds the city already received from HUD for assistance for housing, community and economic development activities, and assistance for low- and moderate- income persons and special-needs populations within the city.
According to federal guidelines, the extra money can be used for buildings and improvements, assistance to businesses and certain public services.
The city’s allocation will be divided into three categories: public services, economic development and administration/planning.
The first two pots of cash will receive $98,679 and the third will receive $49,399.
To meet federal guidelines, the money will be distributed by July 30.
The council’s regular meeting will be held virtually at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The meeting will be streamed on the city’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Comcast channel 10. Viewers do not need to register in advance.
To register to participate in the meeting, visit charlottesville.gov/zoom.