eNews October 7, 2022Friday, October 07, 2022 - 04:22pm
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In this issue:
- Health care commission looks at auxiliary grant payments; potential changes
- Reminder: Public comments regarding local/regional juvenile detention centers due Oct. 14
- Northern Virginia Regional Commission launches Green Roof App for urban core jurisdictions
- DHCD opportunities: Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) planning grants and upcoming webinar series
- SCC seeks public comments on application of Appalachian Power Company to increase its fuel factor
VML holds 2022 Annual Conference
Over 600 local government officials, staff, speakers, and organization representatives gathered at the Downtown Richmond Marriott October 2-4 for the 2022 VML Annual Conference. Over the course of the event, attendees had the opportunity to choose from 22 educational sessions, 10 roundtables, and 5 mobile workshops. Social networking events included Richmond’s Host City Night at the Virginia Museum of Culture & History on Sunday and VML’s Awards Reception followed by live music and hosted trivia on Monday.
In keeping with the conference’s message of making civility a priority, civility pledges for local governments circulated during the event and attendees heard from Matt Lehrman from Social Prosperity Partners speak on the topic of “From Conflict to Conversation” on Sunday. Mr. Lehrman followed this with an engaging panel discussion on the topic on Monday.
During the Annual Business meeting on Monday, VML’s members adopted the 2023 Legislative Program and policy statements (see article below). Other business included election of Executive Board officers and Town of Pennington Gap Vice-Mayor Jill Carson as VML’s new president.
View Jill Carson press release here >.
View VML Executive Board press release here >.
During the Closing Session on Tuesday, newly elected President Jill Carson delivered inspiring remarks on the importance of civility and urged localities to sign and return their pledges to VML. President Carson was followed by UVA School of Law Professor Richard Schragger who used the conference theme of “Be Local, Be Bold” to outline the past, present and future of home rule in Virginia and encouraged members to “be bold” in engaging their state legislators.
VML thanks all our localities, Community Business Members, and sponsors who made this year a resounding success!
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, firstname.lastname@example.org
VML membership adopts policy statements and legislative program
The VML membership held its annual business meeting on October 3, 2022, in Richmond as a part of the Annual Conference.
As a part of that meeting, the membership adopted changes and updates to the five policy statements and adopted the 2023 Legislative Program.
The revised policy statements and updated legislative program will be posted to the VML website next week. Watch for a Special Edition of eNews to announce when they are available.
The legislative program includes three priorities for 2023: Support for public education; clarification of local referendum authority and state support to assist localities with administrative, health, public safety and other related costs related to the start of legal sales of marijuana; and addressing the funding loss to transportation from the elimination of a dedicated revenue stream during the 2022 General Assembly session.
Other legislative program items include support the state assistance to local law enforcement (H.B. 599 program); opposition to any state-mandated exemptions to the local option sales tax on groceries and hygiene products without a viable revenue replacement; funding of community services boards; economic development; land use control; support for local authority for excise taxes on the sale of vaping products and cannabis products; sovereign immunity; and water quality improvement fund allocation for wastewater projects.
VML Contact: Janet Areson, email@example.com
Act now for federal funding for Low Income Household Water/Wastewater Assistance Program
Federal Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) requires interested localities to act as soon as possible. The Virginia Department of Social Services has selected the Promise Network, Inc. to handle Virginia’s distribution of LIHWAP funding for localities, authorities, and other water/wastewater providers for eligible customers.
LIHWAP provides funds to assist low-income households with water and wastewater bills with an emphasis on assisting households that pay a high proportion of household income to drinking water and wastewater service. Payments are made directly to the utilities on behalf of these households.
The first step for interested localities is to submit a non-binding Intake Form to express interest in the program.
The Promise’s interactive online Intake Form is available here >.
Act now – funds are limited
Even if your decision on whether to sign a Participation Agreement is delayed a bit such as for board approval – you should submit an intake form as soon as possible to help Promise/VDSS understand the universe of potential participating utilities. The resources for this program are limited and likely to be fully distributed to utilities for eligible customer accounts and exhausted by December 2022 or potentially sooner.
Submitting the Intake Form will make the State’s team aware of your utility’s interest and enable them to factor your interest into the process in case there are shortfall or other allocation issues to address.
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Health & Human Services
Health care commission looks at auxiliary grant payments; potential changes
Public comment is open until Friday, Oct. 21 on recommendations before the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) regarding the Auxiliary Grant Program, including potential grant increases and possible expanded use of the grants, such as in home or community-based settings.
The Auxiliary Grant Program currently covers eligible individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or otherwise qualify for assistance and who seek or live in licensed assisted living facilities, approved adult foster care, or certified supportive housing.
What are the proposed recommendations?
Among the recommendations under consideration are the following:
- Increase the base Auxiliary Grant rate from $1,609 a month to $2,500 a month (higher in Northern Virginia)
- Provide a one-time, lump sum payment to assisted living facilities (ALFs) that serve a new AG resident
- Expand the list of eligible living arrangements for the AG program to include non-ALF community settings
- Direct the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) and the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to create a proposed increased rate for Auxiliary Grants for Supportive Housing
- Increase the personal needs allowance for all Grant recipients
Why should local governments care?
Local governments carry a financial responsibility for this program through a state-mandated 20 percent match for each auxiliary grant (the state pays 80 percent). The number of grant recipients vary by community. There are also differences by community of placements that can or will accept residents with SSI/ auxiliary grants.
Responsibility for the local grant match falls to the “home” community of a person; if that person is placed in a facility outside of their home community, the home community remains responsible for eligibility determination and match payments, but the new home community will take on responsibility for public services the person may need.
What is the Auxiliary Grant program?
The auxiliary grant program began in 1974, as a result of the creation of the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program in 1973. SSI gives financial assistance to aged, blind, and disabled individuals who meet certain income and financial resource thresholds as set by the Social Security Administration. The creation of SSI consolidated a number of federal financial assistance programs into one. The federal government required states to provide financial supplements to those new SSI recipients transferred from other programs who would have lost benefits as a result of the transfer and allowed states to expand the group covered by these state financial supplements. Virginia’s auxiliary grant program became the state piece to supplement SSI. The state gave Virginia localities the responsibility for 20 percent of the grant cost.
States have a required maintenance of effort (MOE) that means they cannot spend less on the program than they did in a previous year. MOE becomes a factor when looking at possible new avenues for using the grants.
Why look at increases in the grants and how they can be used?
The number of facilities accepting the auxiliary grant has been decreasing. Some may have gone out of business (many were solo operators who may have retired or otherwise closed shop); another factor is that the level of funding ($1,609 base rate per month; $1,850 in Northern VA) has not kept up with increasing costs of facilities, which the assisted living groups told the JCHC falls between $3,000 (residential level of care) and $5,109 (assisted level of care) each month.
The issue of Auxiliary Grants keeping up with cost of operation is not a new problem; issues with the grant level were documented in a 1999 Joint Commission on Health Care study.
The number of grant recipients have gone down over the years as well. There has not been an analysis of why this is so and what is happening with (and to) eligible individuals. It is likely that the decrease is in part because of fewer places accepting the grants. However, there have also been a few changes in what is available to individuals who may have used the program in the past (including group homes for those with Medicaid eligibility; the discharge assistance program for those leaving a state behavioral health facility which pays a higher rate than the AG but also is not a long-term solution; and an auxiliary grant supportive housing program which is limited in availability as well.)
Who sets the grant amounts?
The Virginia General Assembly sets the grant amounts and personal needs allowance.
So, what about these recommendations?
VML has a long-standing position supporting state assumption of Auxiliary Grant program payments because the program has historically carried a disproportional impact for localities with higher fiscal stress. This has evened out some in recent years, but still is a factor. The federal program does not require the local match – that was Virginia’s decision.
If the Commission accepts the recommendation to increase the grants, there will be a local fiscal impact involved, which will vary by community and the number of grant recipients in that community.
The bigger issue may be the need to look at the entire spectrum of long-term care for vulnerable low-income Virginians. The Auxiliary Grant program is just one piece of this discussion. The world has changed since the program went into place in the 1970s and there are likely other funding and service options that could be considered.
Also of concern is a proposed “incentive payment” of $21,000 per recipient to ALFs who accept a new Auxiliary Grant recipient. Would this payment require a local matching component? Would it be counted toward the state’s MOE? Who would be responsible for monitoring the payments and outcome of residents in those facilities?
The JCHC staff report and recommendations can be found here >.
Public comments are due by close of business on Friday, October 21, 2022
Comments can be sent to the Commission as follows:
- Email – email@example.com
- Mail – 411 E. Franklin Street, Suite 505 | Richmond, VA 23219
VML Contact: Janet Areson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reminder: Public comments regarding local/regional juvenile detention centers due Oct. 14
Local governments have until 5:00 PM on Friday, Oct. 14, to submit comments on recommendations about possible defunding, consolidation, or repurposing of local and regional juvenile detention facilities. The recommendations come from the Virginia Commission on Youth (VCOY), a legislative commission.
Virginia Senator Dave Marsden, a member of the Commission, requested the study of this issue, citing the continued reduction in local and regional facility populations over the last several years coupled with administrative costs and the high cost to provide required educational staffing and services. Virginia is not alone – states across the country are seeing reductions in youth in detention facilities
Staff recommendations for consideration by the Commission include:
- Introduce a budget amendment (or request) to direct the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice to identify specific centers for possible defunding and consolidation to align facility capacity with regional needs. This could mean defunding one center per region (there are six regions suggested based on detention home distribution) through “encouraging” consolidation with neighboring facilities.
- Provide additional funding for added transportation time and expenses as a result of consolidation
- Direct the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security through a budget amendment to develop a process to assist families with longer travel times/expenses as a result of facility closures and consolidation.
- Direct the Virginia Department of Education to determine the extent to which each local/regional center implements or could further implement cost-effective staffing methods.
- Introduce legislation to adjust student/teacher ratios in centers and otherwise adjust ratios so they are not based on capacity of the facility, but the actual population.
- Require annual reporting on performance and recidivism rates of community placement program participants.
- Do further work on possible repurposing of parts of local facilities to meet other youth needs, such as a residential assessment center; mental health services/crisis services; shelter care, and assessment center for human trafficking victims, among other possible uses.
- Look at ways to streamline regulations and licensure for local governments/regions to repurpose parts/entire facilities.
The report draft can be found on the VCOY website here >.
Comments may be submitted as follows:
- Email – email@example.com
- Mail – Commission on Youth | 900 E. Main Street, 11th Floor |Richmond, VA 23219
VML Contact: Janet Areson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Virginia Regional Commission launches Green Roof App for urban core jurisdictions
The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) has launched a web app that depicts the green roof potential for buildings within the region’s urban core (Arlington County, Fairfax County, Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church).
The Green Roof App can be accessed here >.
The map shows the following elements of a green roof:
- Event volume capture capacity
- Annual volume capture capacity
- Annual stormwater interception value
- Annual energy savings
- Annual CO2 offset
- Annual Air Pollutants Removed
In the five jurisdictions there are 541,248,585 square feet of potential usable green roof. That square footage of green roof has the potential on an annual basis to capture 8.7 billion gallons of rainwater, offset 119,345 tons of CO2 and provide energy savings of $146.1 million dollars.
Potential green roof area was determined using the degree of building roof slope which was calculated from a digital surface model (DSM) and building footprint data. The Center for Neighborhood Technology Green Values Calculator was utilized to determine the green roof effect on stormwater runoff. Pollution reduction values were calculated based on findings from green roof reports from the Center for Neighborhood Technology and U.S. General Services Administration.
Stormwater is a major source of pollution in local streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Green roofs are just one element that can help reduce stormwater runoff in communities. Efforts to reduce stormwater runoff are critical to the region achieving its required pollution reduction to the Chesapeake Bay.
What is a Green Roof?
Green roofs are partially or completely covered with a growing medium and vegetation planted over a waterproofing membrane. They may include additional layers, such as a root barrier, and drainage and irrigation systems. Extensive green roofs typically have a depth that ranges between 4-6 inches. In addition to providing onsite stormwater management, green roofs mitigate urban heat island impacts, reduce building energy costs, decrease noise pollution, and improve air quality and mental wellbeing.
Buildings with roof slopes between 0-9 degrees are ideal for green roofs and the least expensive roof to construct and maintain. Roof slopes 9-30 degrees are suitable for green roofs. They may require additional erosion control which can increase construction costs. Roofs with slopes greater than 30 degrees are not considered suitable for green roofs.
Additional information regarding green roofs can be found on the Commission’s website: https://www.novaregion.org/1548/Green-Roofs
NVRC Contact: Executive Director Robert W. Lazaro, Jr., Robert Lazaro, email@example.com
DHCD opportunities: Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) planning grants and upcoming webinar series
IRF planning grants
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) reminds all interested parties that applications are open for the current round of IRF planning grants and the deadline is just one month away – midnight on November 4th.
Information is available here >.
“Development Ready” webinar series
What does it mean to be a “Development Ready Community” or “Open for Business”? Often, there is a disconnect between messaging and reality. While a locality may say that they want to encourage new developments, their zoning code, incentives, and access to capital say differently. The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development is partnering with experts in the field to guide local governments, elected officials, community development organizations, housing providers, developers and entrepreneurs through the steps needed to ensure that their community’s vision can become a reality. This webinar series is a must for any community struggling to meet housing demands, rehabilitate derelict structures and fill vacant storefronts.
Starting with a review of zoning code and policies, the Incremental Development Alliance will speak directly to localities and officials to analyze whether or not their ordinances meet their needs and intent. Place and Main Advisors will continue this conversation by showing localities how to find and market to experienced developers who will help the community meet their vision. Afterwards, our partners at Virginia Community Capital will take these concepts to the next level through resources to help further build local economies with small businesses and entrepreneurship.
Webinar Series Schedule:
- 10/05| Small-Scale Incremental Development
- 10/12| Marketing & Promo. for Attracting Developers
- 10/19| Supporting Small-Business Development
Register here >.
CVO Newsletter here >.
If you’re not already subscribed to this newsletter, you can be added by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
DHCD Contact: Community Revitalization Specialist Annie Arnest, email@example.com.
SCC seeks public comments on application of Appalachian Power Company to increase its fuel factor
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is offering time for members of the public to give oral comments by telephone on an application by Appalachian Power Company to increase its fuel factor for usage on and after November 1, 2022.
Appalachian Power’s application requests approval to recover the company’s estimated Virginia jurisdictional fuel expenses of approximately $416,140,161 for the November 1, 2022, through October 31, 2023, fuel year, and its projected October 31, 2022, fuel deferral balance of $361,411,867, subject to its mitigation proposal.
The company’s mitigation proposal would spread recovery of the projected fuel deferral balance over two years.
For a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, the average weighted monthly bill would increase by $20.17, from $127.81 to $147.98 under the Company’s proposal. The Commission has permitted the Company to place the proposal into effect on an interim basis, subject to further modification, effective November 1, 2022.
The SCC has scheduled a public witness session to begin at 10 a.m. on December 13, 2022. Public witnesses intending to provide oral testimony must pre-register with the SCC by 5 p.m. on December 7, 2022. The hearing will be webcast at: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting.
Public witnesses wishing to provide oral testimony may pre-register in one of three ways:
- Completing a public witness form for case number PUR-2022-00139 on the SCC’s website at: virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting
- E-mailing the same form (PDF version on the same website as above) to SCCInfo@scc.virginia.gov
- Calling the SCC at 804-371-9141 during normal business hours (8:15 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and providing your name and the phone number you wish the Commission to call to reach you during the hearing.
A public evidentiary hearing will follow the public witness hearing at 10 a.m. on December 14, 2022, in the SCC’s second floor courtroom at 1300 East Main Street in Richmond to receive testimony and evidence from the company, any respondents and the SCC staff.
For those who prefer, there is also an opportunity to provide comments in writing on the Appalachian Power application. Written comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by December 6, 2022, at scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply go to the SCC website, select “Cases” and then “Submit Public Comments,” and scroll down to case number PUR-2022-00139. Then click SUBMIT COMMENTS.
SCC Contact: Ford Carson, Ford.Carson@scc.virginia.gov