eNews December 16, 2022Friday, December 16, 2022 - 04:38pm
This edition of eNews is sponsored by:
Watershed Geo® provides solutions for ongoing problematic environmental issues. We continually challenge traditional solutions with systems that are sustainable, low-cost and engineered for extreme performance. Our products solve an array of issues in industries such as geotechnical engineering, waste management, erosion control and mining. Learn more >
In this issue:
- Elected Officials Conference in-person registration closes Dec. 23
- Register now for Local Government Day taking place Jan. 19, 2023
- VML offices closed Dec. 23 – Jan. 2
- Virginia Town & City: What to expect in 2023
- Health Commission approves initiatives affecting auxiliary grants, local health departments
- CSA/special education move won’t happen (for now)
- JLARC releases study of CSBs
- VAPDC to host winter series First Fridays in 2023
- Winter 2022 Municipal Utility Survey due Dec. 27
- FCC National Broadband Map: Challenge process for local governments deadline is Jan. 13
Gov. Youngkin presents budget amendments to General Assembly
Proposed additional tax cuts and increased spending for public safety, behavioral health, economic development, and workforce are some of the major components of the package of budget amendments presented to the General Assembly by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Dec. 15 in Richmond.
The budget amendments as proposed by Youngkin, which is more than 750 pages of single-spaced text and numbers, can be seen on the Department of Planning and Budget’s website.
The budget amendments will now be examined and acted upon by the House Appropriations and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees of the General Assembly, which will present their versions of the budget following cross-over.
Use the links below for short overviews of some items of interest to local governments in the proposed budget. VML will follow up with additional items and details in the coming days.
- Economic Development
- Environmental Quality
- Health & Human Services
- Public Safety
- A total of $450.0 million over the biennium to invest in site development for large economic development projects.
- Expansion of the Virginia Main Street program with an additional $2.0 million each year.
- A total of $61.8 million in fiscal year 2024 to support various components of workforce development, including additional funding for Go Virginia workforce funding and increasing availability of industry recognized credential to high school students through the Virginia Community College System.
- Funding of $10.0 million in FY2024 for a pilot project to provide financial assistance to localities/PDCs representing their local governments to increase capacity and accelerate review and issuance of building permits by local building departments.
- A total of $50.0 million would be deposited into the College Partnership Laboratory School Fund in FY2023.
- One-time retention bonus funding of $45.2 million for instructional aides and support positions would be provided in FY2024; funds would be based on the state’s share of SOQ funding for these positions.
- Additional funding totaling $16.97 million would be provided in FY2024 to increase the number of reading specialists in the fourth and fifth grades. One additional reading specialist instructional position would be added for every 550 students in fourth and fifth grades during the 2023-2024 school year.
- Language on page 729 would change the definition of “College Partnership Laboratory School.” The current definition of college partnership laboratory schools includes private institutions and requires a teacher education program approved by the Board of Education. As proposed, those qualifications would be struck, and language added to include public higher education centers, institutes, or authorities.
- There is no proposed funding increase for the School Construction Grant Fund. Funding for this program is a VML legislative priority as well as a recommendation from the Commission on School Construction and Modernization.
- A deposit of $87.1 million into the Water Quality Improvement Fund in FY2024; a deposit is required by statute when there are surplus general fund revenues collected. A total of $45 million of this appropriation is directed towards agricultural best management practices within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
- Funding of $100 million is proposed for the Resilient Virginia Revolving Loan Fund; this is contingent on sufficient FY2023 revenues being collected.
- Directs $43.9 million of excess general fund revenues collected in 2022 and $107 million of federal State and Local Recovery Funds to the Enhanced Nutrient Removal Certainty Program.
- Directs $43.9 million of the excess general fund revenues collected in 2022 and $107 million of federal State and Local Recovery Funds to the Enhanced Nutrient Removal Certainty Program. This program assists small and medium size wastewater treatment plants with capital improvements to reduce nutrient loads such as nitrogen and phosphorous loads that otherwise flow into the waters of the Commonwealth and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed budget notes that the $43.9 million of excess revenues is a share of the statutory 10% deposit of excess revenues that must be made to the Water Quality Improvement Fund.
- No language addressing the local one percent sales tax for groceries that goes to local government (don’t get excited – bills are being introduced to eliminate the local one percent).
- Language providing that localities out of compliance with submitting required audit information to the state or with outstanding debts would be reported to the Secretary of Finance to determine if state technical assistance or intervention is necessary.
Health & Human Services
- Approximately $230 million in new spending for behavioral health, including $20 million to double the number of mobile crisis response teams for statewide coverage; $58 million for new crisis centers for evaluation/treatment; $20 million to help private hospitals set up psychiatric services in their emergency departments; An additional $9.0 million in FY 2024 to expand school-based mental health pilot; and $8 million for housing/supports for individuals leaving state hospitals who face challenges to discharge because of the need for housing and services.
- Funding of $3.5 million in FY2024 and five staff positions for the Opioid Abatement Authority under the Office of Health and Human Resources.
- Creation of an Opioid Abatement and Remediation Fund in the Office of the Attorney General to receive funds from any settlement, judgement, verdict, or other court order related to consumer protection claims (other than funds going to the Opioid Abatement Authority).
- No additional per diem funding based on revised jail inmate population forecasts.
- No new funding for state assistance to local law enforcement (HB 599 program).
- Redirects $300 million of transportation revenues from the Six-Year Improvement Program ($200 million) and Transportation Infrastructure Bank ($100 million) for FY2023 and proposes using these revenues for a deposit to the Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund (TPOF). The TPOF is a fund used to “address the transportation aspects of economic development opportunities” administered by VDOT with grants for improvements directed towards eligible regional and local governments.
VML Contacts: Janet Areson, email@example.com ; Josette Bulova, firstname.lastname@example.org ; Mitchell Smiley, email@example.com
Elected Officials Conference in-person registration closes Dec. 23
Thanks to everyone who had registered to attend either in person or virtually for the Elected Officials Conference happening January 4, 2023.
Please be aware that in-person registration closes on Dec. 23 (end of day). The event will be held at The Place at Innsbrook (4036-C Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060). Venue website here >.
Links to attend virtually and materials will be sent by email to registrants prior to the event.
Registration and more information are available here >.
About the Elected Officials Conference
Both new and seasoned public officials will benefit from this valuable opportunity to learn from speakers with extensive experience working with local government officials. In addition to required training on FOIA/COIA, the conference offers an excellent opportunity to learn what it takes to succeed as an elected official. Topics pertinent to local officials such as budgeting, risk management, and cybersecurity will also be covered,
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Register now for Local Government Day taking place Jan. 19, 2023
It’s a day for all of us. Counties. Cities. Towns. Planning Districts. It’s a day for us to learn how the decisions being made by the General Assembly might affect us. And it’s a day to make our voices heard. Attend Local Government Day. Then visit the Capitol to meet with your legislators and observe committee meetings. Later join us for a reception.
This event is hosted by VML, VACo, VAPDC, and the Virginia Rural Center.
More information and a link to register are available here >.
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, email@example.com
VML offices closed Dec. 23 – Jan. 2
We are taking time to celebrate the holidays and rest up for what promises to be a busy 2023 General Assembly session. We wish everyone the joy of the season!
Virginia Town & City: What to expect in 2023
Due to the rising cost of materials, VML will combine the November and December issues our magazine Virginia Town & City in 2023 for a total of 9 issues. By taking this step we will not need to raise the cost of advertising or subscriptions.
The 2023 Editorial Calendar is available here >.
Those interested in advertising in Virginia Town & City can learn more here >.
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Council discusses items related to personal information sharing
The FOIA Council met on Wednesday of this week and appointed Delegate Simon as their new Chairman with Senator Locke moving to the Vice Chairman.
The FOIA Council took up HB980 (Williams Graves) from the 2021 General Assembly Session in the draft that a FOIA subcommittee wrote but did not endorse. The bill’s goal was to protect personal contact information for complainants in all local enforcement complaints. Prior to this proposal only names and zoning enforcement complaints had such protection. Unfortunately, the bill was watered down by the committee and now the exemption will only apply to the following: zoning enforcement complaints, Uniform Statewide Building Code complaints and Statewide Fire Prevention complaints.
Significantly, the protection for the complainant does NOT include local code complaints pertaining to public health and safety and nuisances or local code complaints pertaining to waste and recycling. This version was recommended by the FOIA Council.
Stay tuned to see what version the Patron will introduce in the 2023 General Assembly Session.
The FOIA Council also briefly discussed the case of Hawkins v. Town of South Hill which was decided by the Supreme Court in October of this year and remanded to the Circuit Court. This case sets forth guidance on what constitutes “personal information” under FOIA along with adding “we will not legislate from the bench regarding which specific pieces of information are private…………”
It will be interesting to see the outcome of the remanded case. However, during their meeting the FOIA Council decided that legislation related to the case was not necessary!
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, email@example.com
Virginia Housing Commission hears presentations on hemp, 3-D construction, and future housing needs
The Virginia Housing Commission met on Wednesday of this week and heard a very interesting presentation by Cameron McIntosh, Founder, Americhanvre Hemp Building Solutions on why hemp should be considered as a viable building material.
There was also a presentation by Andrew McCoy, Ph.D., Director, Virginia Center for Housing Research, Virginia Tech about their first 3-D house. The Center will continue to monitor the house for efficiency to improve the technique. There will be a presentation on the efficiency at a later meeting.
Susan Dewey, Director of Virginia Housing spoke about the HB854 study which asked stakeholders to determine the current and future housing needs of Virginians, including the availability of affordable housing across the state. Data from federal, state, and other sources were compiled, analyzed, and translated into major findings for the following topics. The study is complete and quite comprehensive.
Also, during the meeting, the Virginia Housing Commission staff indicated their hope that their new website will be live before the holidays!
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Health & Human Services
Health Commission approves initiatives affecting auxiliary grants, local health departments
Increasing the base Auxiliary Grant rate as well as the personal needs allowance and expanding the list of eligible living arrangements for which Auxiliary Grants can be used were approved as recommendations for the 2023 General Assembly Session by the Joint Commission on Health Care. The Commission met on Dec. 7 in Richmond.
Commission members approved a staff recommendation to seek a budget amendment in the 2023 General Assembly Session to increase the Auxiliary Grant rate to $2,500 a month from $1,609 (note: the rate is 15 percent higher in Planning District 8). A staff report to the Commission earlier this fall noted that the rate had remained relatively flat for more than 10 years with the exception of cost-of-living adjustments to comply with federal requirements. For local governments, an increase in the overall rate means a cost increase because localities pay a 20 percent match on every Auxiliary Grant.
The Commission also approved a policy recommendation to seek a budget amendment to increase the personal needs allowance for each Auxiliary Grant recipient to $100 and include language pegging increases in the allowance at the same rate as future cost of living Auxiliary Grant rate increases. The allowance of $81 has not been increased since 2014. The personal needs allowance allows an individual to buy personal items and services not provided as part of housing services paid for by the Auxiliary Grant.
The Commission also approved a policy recommendation to seek a Code change to expand the list of eligible living arrangements in which the Auxiliary Grant could be used. Currently, the Grant can be used for individuals living in assisted living facilities, adult foster care, and supportive housing. Expanding the eligible uses would likely increase the number of recipients and therefore the cost of the program. The extent to which the program would be expanded is to be determined and requires approval by the Social Security Administration.
Local Health Departments
The Commission adopted several policy recommendations from its study of local health department structure and financing. Most of the adopted recommendations will be addressed in a letter to the Virginia Department of Health. Those include:
- Amend the Code of Virginia to require local health departments (LHDs) to ensure availability of clinical services, either by the LHD or by other providers and facilitate access to and linkage with clinical care, as well as address chronic disease and injury prevention. This would include updating the Local Government Agreements to reflect these changes.
- Design a state performance management process for LHDs, with the goals of assessing the ability of each LHD to meet minimum capacity requirements, assisting in continuous quality improvement, and providing a transparent accountability mechanism to ensure public health functions are being met.
- Develop a plan for a centralized data system that will enable VDH to access necessary data from all LHDs to allow for assessment and performance management, as well as greater data sharing with stakeholders and the public.
- Introduce a budget amendment to provide additional funding to VDH for loan repayment programs for LHD staff.
- Recommend that VDH create regional operations and facilities management positions to assist LHDs.
- Create a requirement for all health districts to participate in the CHA/CHIP process, in coordination with the state health assessment process and local health system Community Health Needs Assessments and update the Local Government Agreements to reflect these changes.
- Determine the funding necessary to provide sufficient communications capacity across all health districts.
- Request that VDH track cooperative budget funding per capita, compare that funding to the identified needs of each LHD, and make appropriate adjustments as additional funding is made available.
- Ask VDH to update state regulations for environmental health services to increase inspection fees and adjust them based on the type of establishment being inspected, to account for the typical time it takes to conduct the inspection.
The Commission also approved the following as a legislative initiative for the 2023 Session:
- Introduce a budget amendment to fund targeted increases for LHD staff base salaries to align with current industry salary benchmarks.
VML Contact: Janet Areson, email@example.com
CSA/special education move won’t happen (for now)
A report from the two-year long workgroup that examined the issue of moving the responsibility for payment of special education out-of-school placements (private day school or residential) from the Children’s Services Act (CSA) program to the Virginia Department of Education concluded that no move would take place for now. This means that CSA will continue to contract for and pay the cost of private day placements.
VML Contact: Janet Areson, firstname.lastname@example.org
JLARC releases study of CSBs
While Community Services Boards (CSBs) face many serious challenges to providing behavioral health services, including staff shortages, a growing demand for more intensive services, and increasing administrative demands that detract from direct consumer care, a study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) concluded that there is no compelling evidence that adopting a new structure for community-based behavioral health service delivery would be more efficient or effective
However, JLARC recommended several improvements to ensure that the system operates as efficiently and effectively as possible and that CSBs are held accountable for their performance.
ARC staff were directed to review CSB behavioral health funding, staffing, and outcomes as well as CSB services for individuals experiencing behavioral health emergencies. Staff were also directed to review the structure of the CSB system to identify any possible opportunities to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery.
JLARC’s 22 recommendations for the General Assembly include:
- Fund a salary increase for direct care staff at CSBs.
- Receive annual reports from the Department to the General Assembly regarding average salaries, turnover, and vacancy rates across CSBs.
- Direct DBHDS to look at documentation requirements of CSBs and eliminate any that are not essential to ensuring effective or timely services or are duplicative or conflicting.
- Consider contracting with higher education institutions to establish training and technical assistance for preadmission screening clinicians, particularly when quality improvement is deemed necessary.
- Consider additional funding to help CSB hire additional staff for residential crisis stabilization units whose bed capacity isn’t fully used because of staffing shortages.
- Consider amending the Code to repeal the requirement that every state facility, CSB, and private inpatient provider licensed by DBHDS participate in the acute psychiatric bed registry.
- Have DBHDS complete a comprehensive review of performance contracts and revise performance measures to better measure relevant consumer experiences and outcomes and ensure DBHDS gives clear direction on how it will monitor performance and enforce compliance with performance requirements.
- Consider ways for DBHDS to regularly monitor CSB compliance in meeting performance contract requirements and use enforcement mechanisms as necessary to ensure CSBs are in substantial compliance with contracts.
VML Contact: Janet Areson, email@example.com
Opioid Settlement resources for localities
The Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) has released guidance to localities for financial reporting of opioid settlement funds (the guidance is available here). Please note that the APA references the Opioid Abatement Authority (OAA) “Gold Standard.” This will help localities meet not only the requirements of the various settlements, but also to meet the stricter requirements of OAA funds.
The APA has also posted a Locality Look-Up Tool. This tool allows users to look up the actual and estimated future direct share payments to every city and county in the Commonwealth from the Distributors and Janssen settlements.
Both these resources are also available the OAA website www.oaa.virginia.gov.
OAA Contact: Tony McDowell, Executive Director of the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority, firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources & Opportunities
VAPDC to host winter series First Fridays in 2023
The Virginia Association of Planning Commissions (VAPDC) returns with a short series of educational and informational programs to kick off the new year. These three online meetings will cover pertinent topics for the first quarter of 2023.
Session 1—Friday, January 6, 2023, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
- Gearing up for the Virginia General Assembly
Session 2—Friday, February 5, 2023, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
- Equity in the Workplace
Session 3—Friday, March 5, 2023, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Register for one or more sessions here >
Once registered, participants will receive login information to be able to join the day of the event.
VAPDC Contact: David Blount, DBlount@tjpdc.org
Winter 2022 Municipal Utility Survey due Dec. 27
As a reminder, utilities not subject to regulation by the State Corporation Commission (municipal utilities) are required to submit information on the status of customer accounts to the Commission on Local Government (CLG).
The current Municipal Utility Survey may be found here >.
The deadline for submission of the survey is by end of day on December 27. There will be no extensions as the report is due to the General Assembly on December 30.
Item 4-14.00 Paragraph 7h of the 2020 Appropriations Act, as amended, requires utilities not subject to regulation by the State Corporation Commission (municipal utilities) to submit information on the status of customer accounts to the Commission on Local Government (CLG). Each utility is required to report to the CLG information covering specific time periods. For purposes of this report, that time period covers the end of the universal prohibition established in clause 7.a of the 2020 Appropriations Act (identified by staff as September 1, 2021) through December 16, 2022. Previously, this has also been referred to as Report 4.
With the exception of the change in reporting period, all other elements of this survey are identical to the previous Winter 2021 Municipal Utility Survey, also referred to as Report 3.
DHCD Contact: email@example.com.
FCC National Broadband Map: Challenge process for local governments deadline is Jan. 13
On November 18, the FCC released the first iteration of the National Broadband Map. This map is an important tool that will impact targeted funding and other efforts to bring broadband to unserved and underserved communities. Therefore, the need for accurate data where broadband service is available and not available has never been of greater importance. Importantly, the release of the map also kicks off the public fixed availability challenge process, which will play an important role in ensuring the map’s data is accurate across local communities.
More information and tools are available in the National League of Cities (NLC) blog here >.
Note: A key data tool (dashboard) is linked in the blog where local leaders can look up their city, town or village and see FCC data compared to other metrics specific to their individual community.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has announced that the deadline to submit challenges for them to be incorporated into the BEAD allocations is January 13.
NLC Contact: McKaia Dykema, firstname.lastname@example.org