In this issue:


Register now to avoid conference rate increase

The registration fee for the 2017 VML annual conference will increase Sept. 15. VML staff are planning a variety of sessions to help you build healthier communities by increasing your knowledge of healthcare, the opioid crisis, drinking water concerns, and public recreation projects. Register today to lock in the current rate. Visit vml.orgFacebook, or the VML app regularly to view announcements about conference events and speakers.

VML contact: Leslie Amason, (804) 523-8528

 

 

Consider serving on the VML Executive Committee

Be part of leading statewide initiatives for Virginia cities, towns, and counties as a member of the VML Executive Committee. The 13-member VML Executive Committee is made up of local officials from across the Commonwealth and manages all affairs of the League, supervises the Executive Director and other staff and personnel of the League, and arranges for the Annual Meeting of the League.

The Executive Committee meets four times a year (at the VML annual conference, during VML Day at the Capitol, in May, and in August). VML pays all travel expenses for the May and August meetings. It is expected that the locality pays for VML Day and the VML annual conference as usual.

There are three ways to participate on the Executive Committee.

To apply for an at-large or officer positioncomplete the application and email it with your letter of interest and resume to Michelle Gowdy. You also may mail the nominating materials to VML Nominating Committee, P.O. Box 12164, Richmond, VA 23241.

VML contact: Michelle Gowdy

 

Public/private partnerships: VML Leadership Academy webinar

Earn credit toward Leadership Academy certification from the convenience of your office. A one-hour webinar on Sept. 13 will provide an overview of Virginia’s unique public-private partnership law, the Public-Private Education Facilities & Infrastructure Act (PPEA). The session will include the law’s legislative history, types of projects that qualify for it, how projects are generated and procured, and the Act’s pros and cons. Preston Bryant Jr. is the speaker for this VLA event.

Register online.

VML contact: Mike Polychrones

 

Despite year-end surplus, McAuliffe urges caution

Virginia’s total general fund collections exceeded the official forecast for fiscal year 2017, economic development efforts have netted 1,012 projects worth $16.4 billion in the last four years, and unemployment rates are down throughout the state. Despite the good news, the tone of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s address to the General Assembly’s budget and finance committees on Aug. 21 was one of caution.

McAuliffe’s message focused on President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, which cuts and eliminates funding for programs such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, Community Development Block Grants, the Chesapeake Bay Program, and other assistance for rural economic development and poverty alleviation programs.

He said that these cuts, along with proposals to gut workforce development programs, disability assistance, and children’s health insurance, would threaten much of the progress made to regain solid financial footing in the state following the great recession.

While the President’s budget promises increased defense spending, McAuliffe said it would take years for Virginia to realize any positive impacts.

Speaking to Virginia’s budget performance, McAuliffe recalled the efforts to keep the fiscal year 2017 budget in balance that started in the fall of 2016. He gave credit to the General Assembly in working with him through the 2017 Session to enact an amended budget that was timely, on-time, and balanced.  He noted that this was not the case with nine other states this year, and speculated that several states, including some of Virginia’s border states, would see revenue shortfalls.

As for the surplus, McAuliffe noted that much of it was already committed by law. The Water Quality Improvement Fund will get 10 percent of any revenue surplus (approximately $13.4 million), and the newly-enacted budget calls for at least 50 percent of any revenue surplus for FY17 to be placed in a cash reserve to help address any potential negative impacts from a downward turn in the national or state economies, or from future federal budget actions.

The creation of a cash reserve was prompted by a Standards & Poor announcement in April that affirmed Virginia’s AAA bond rating, but changed Virginia’s rating outlook status from “stable” to “negative.” Its reasoning included budgeted withdrawals from the Revenue Stabilization Fund during the current biennium while the national economy was expanding, and potential impacts from federal fiscal policies. He said that Virginia’s move to create the cash reserve was met with a favorable response from S&P Global Ratings.

McAuliffe also spoke of Virginia’s two major issues to be dealt with in the upcoming budget deliberations: the re-benchmarking of the state’s Standards of Quality (SOQ), and health care, or more specifically Medicaid.

Speaking of Medicaid, McAuliffe put in a pitch for Medicaid expansion. He noted that none of the proposals in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) left the non-expansion states like Virginia better off. He vowed to put Medicaid expansion once again in his budget proposal for the coming biennium.

VML contact: Janet Areson

 

Call for VDOT revenue sharing allocations

Applications for VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program can now be submitted. Please note that the Revenue Sharing program begins its two-year application cycle this year, so allocations will be provided for FY 2019 and 2020. As with last year, applications will be accepted only through VDOT’s Smart Portal from August 1 through November 1.

Also, the Commonwealth Transportation Board has developed and adopted a new revenue policy and guidelines that will make significant changes in the allocation ratio which affects how funds will be distributed. View the complete revenue sharing policy changes (PDF).

A major change caps all projects at $10 million. No matter the local project cost, the Commonwealth will match a maximum of $10 million at a ratio of 50/50. For a VDOT-approved project of $10 million, for example, the contribution of the city or town is $5 million with VDOT providing the same.

VML contact: Mike Polychrones

 

HB 1774 stormwater and erosion control workgroup holds first meeting

A stormwater and erosion control workgroup formed as a result of HB 1774 (Hodges) met for the first time July 11. Originally established to deal with flooding issues in the Middle Peninsula and Tidewater, the group’s findings could affect localities across Virginia.

The group will concentrate on the following areas:

Solving issues created by the 2016 passage of the Virginia Erosion & Stormwater Act is a primary objective of the workgroup. In particular, the act created different stormwater management requirements for coastal and non-coastal areas of Virginia.

The group is mandated to finish its work and report to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2018. Future meetings will be held on Aug. 30, Sept. 27, Oct. 18, and Nov. 29 at locations to be determined.

The August 30 meeting will focus on research by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and Old Dominion University (ODU) and how it relates to the workgroup’s mission.

The Virginia Coastal Policy Center at William and Mary Law School is the group’s facilitator. Representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Commission, ODU, VIMS, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, local governments, private industry, and environmental groups are members of the workgroup.

VML contact: Mike Polychrones

 

NLC seeks candidates for committees and leadership positions

Applications are now open for all 2018 leadership roles in the National League of Cities. The deadline to apply is Oct. 13, 2017. Openings are available on NLC’s board or as an officer; federal advocacy committees, constituency groups, and member councils.

 

Regional group seeks locality input on clean energy program

The Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance (MAPA) is a U.S. Department of Energy-funded initiative led by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME). MAPA stakeholders in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. are working to harmonize and accelerate commercial property-assessed clean energy (PACE) across the region. Through PACE’s private-public partnership, property owners receive long-term capital to make energy-related improvements to their properties with no upfront costs.

To better direct their education and outreach efforts, MAPA is conducting a survey of Virginia localities to understand your familiarity with and interest in commercial PACE and to identify resources that would be most helpful for your jurisdiction.

Share your feedback in the survey by Sept. 21.

 

Learn how to build healthy economies through healthy communities in a free webinar

Join the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign and the Institute for Public Health Innovation for a free webinar Sept. 19 at 2:00 p.m. to learn how healthy eating and active living (HEAL) policies and practices promote economic development. Municipal leaders from the HEAL Cities and Towns Campaign will share how HEAL policies and practices can boost tourism, increase property values, and attract new business.

Speakers:

Register online.

 

Calendar

Sept. 13: Public/Private Partnerships: VML Leadership Academy Webinar

Sept. 18: Virginia Partnership for Out-of School Time 2017 Conference, Newport News

Sept. 19: Building Healthy Economies Through Healthy Communities Webinar

Sept. 30 – Oct. 1: Virginia Mayors Institute, Williamsburg

Oct. 1-3: 2017 VML annual conference, Williamsburg

Oct 4-5: Smart Cities Week, Washington, D.C.

Oct. 15-17: VBCOA school and conference, Virginia Beach

Nov. 15-18: NLC City Summit, Charlotte, N.C.

In this issue:

 

Register today for 2017 VML conference

Network with hundreds of colleagues from around Virginia while learning about the latest issues facing local governments at the 2017 VML annual conference in Williamsburg, Oct. 1-3. Attend a variety of general sessions for valuable information from political leaders, nationally-known speakers, and local government experts. Visit the exhibit hall for the latest equipment, technologies, and services. Register today.

VML contact: Leslie Amason

The VML mobile app now has 2017 annual conference resources. As the conference approaches, find session descriptions, speaker bios, exhibitor info, schedules, maps, and more. Download the app from your device’s app store.

VML contact: Kelley Hope

 

Last call for Innovation Award entries

The deadline for 2017 Innovation Award entries is 5:00 p.m., Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Download the entry form and nominate your successes for consideration by the judging committee.

VML contact: Manuel Timbreza

 

VML legislative committee meets Aug. 18

The VML Legislative Committee will hold its second meeting on Friday, Aug. 18. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring will speak to the Committee about the opioids crisis in Virginia. Senator Emmett Hanger will share information about the local government fiscal stress study.

VML contact: Janet Areson

 

APA developing fiscal distress warning system

The Auditor of Public Account’s (APA) local government fiscal stress workgroup is developing criteria for identifying fiscal distress and establishing an early warning system. Led by Auditor Martha Mavredes, the workgroup met July 31 and reviewed results of a ratio analysis using a draft financial assessment model (FAM). The model has created scores using information from CAFRs for FY 2014 through FY 2016 from 171 Virginia localities. The APA will add FY 2017 data soon; the additional data will help APA determine trends in fiscal stress levels.

According to criteria set by the APA, localities receiving a FAM score of less than or equal to 15 percent would receive follow up by the APA in the form of a questionnaire that can identify other factors that may contribute to the FAM score. Based on the draft model, seven localities in Virginia fall under the 15-percent threshold.

The process of developing and refining the model’s criteria is in the early stages and the APA is seeking input from localities on this process. At a meeting July 20, members of the VML Finance Policy Committee provided feedback which the APA used to update the questionnaire. In addition, Rachel Reamy, local government audit manager with the APA, shared copies of the FAM model and draft questionnaire with participants of the VML Leadership Academy budgeting seminar on Aug. 2. Next, Marvedes will present to the Special Joint Subcommittee on Local Government Fiscal Stress on Aug. 21.

The APA envisions making the questionnaire available on their website so that localities can use it as a self-assessment tool in the future.

The APA only includes information in the FAM scores for towns that are required to report to the APA. They will not include data for localities that do not report to the APA.

For more information or to request a copy of the draft FAM ratio model and APA questionnaire, email Rachel Reamy or call her at (804)-225-3350 ext. 360.

VML contact: Sandy Harrington

 

Technology and science commission considers online authentication

Online authentication of official documents was a main source of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting of the Virginia Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS). Paradigm, Inc. presented a secure online source to authenticate official documents such as licensure, diplomas, and similar documents.

The group also discussed virtual currency, including a newly-created Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Businesses Act (PDF). The act attempts to ensure states are consistent in the regulation of virtual currency providers.

Also at the meeting, officials from Virginia Beach spoke about their landing location for transatlantic cable which will soon connect with cables from Bilbao, Spain and Fortaleza, Brazil. The landing location increases Virginia’s economic development opportunities and expands broadband service.

JCOTS will continue discussing online authentication, regulation of virtual currency, and potential legislation and receive a formal presentation on the Virginia Beach cable landing at their Dec. 6 meeting.

VML contact: Michelle Gowdy

 

FOIA subcommittee considers use of “proprietary”

The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council (FOIA) subcommittee on proprietary records and trade secrets met Aug. 1. The group continued discussion of a project concerning the term “proprietary” as used in FOIA.

At its last meeting, the committee proposed removing “proprietary” and “confidential” from all exemptions in Virginia Code §2.2-3705.6. However, the result for most exemptions would leave just the word “information” which the committee felt could be too widely construed and may expand exemptions unintentionally.

In addition, several state agencies felt that the word “confidential” had meaning that was defined in other parts of the code. Therefore, it became clear that this was not a workable solution.

The full FOIA Council meets on Monday, Aug. 14 and will receive the report of the subcommittee on the five-plus iterations that have been considered. The meeting’s agenda also includes discussion of various court cases on FOIA.

VML contact: Michelle Gowdy

 

Opportunity to participate in health and human services data-sharing workgroups

In early 2017, several localities met with Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel to discuss challenges with data access, use, and sharing between the Commonwealth and localities. With support of Secretary Hazel and state agencies, small work groups are now forming to look at identified issues, interests, and solutions moving forward. If you are interested in more information or would like to join a work group, contact Janet Areson.

VML contact: Janet Areson

 

Virginia Retirement System to hold benefits training sessions

The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) offers a two-day instructor-led benefits training session for new and experienced benefit administrators and payroll officers at locations throughout the state. Each session covers membership (including contributions and refunds), purchase of prior service, service retirement, and death benefits. Upcoming sessions will be held at the following locations:

Visit the VRS website for more information.

 

Rabies clinic survey reminder

Aug. 31 is the deadline for local governments to respond to the Virginia Department of Health’s survey regarding the fiscal impact of the state mandate/compulsory order SHHR.VDH033. The order requires cities and counties to ensure that a rabies clinic for dogs and cats is held at least once every two years to serve their jurisdiction.
This information gives state policymakers a better idea of the true impact of individual state mandates/compulsory orders on local governments.

VML sent the survey link to local governments at the end of June; so far only three cities have responded. VML has sent a follow-up email with the survey link to local managers.

Although local health departments must approve the clinics, they are not charged with ensuring that the clinics take place. As such, VDH believes that local government managers are in the best position to gather the information associated with the fiscal impacts of this mandate.

VML contact: Janet Areson

 

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