Archive for May, 2013

The State of the City and County

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Satyendra Huja, mayor of the City of Charlottesville and Ann Mallek, chairman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors spoke at the Wednesday, May 8, 2013 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at The Senior Center in Charlottesville. Following opening remarks by the participants questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV President Sue Liberman.  A podcast of the meeting is available here.

huju_130508Satyendra Huja is the president of Community Planning Associates, and is also adjunct faculty at the University of Virginia School of Architecture and teaches Urban Planning courses on a regular basis. He was director of Strategic Planning for the City of Charlottesville from 1998 to 2004. Prior to that he was director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Charlottesville for 25 years. He received his Masters Degree in Urban Planning from Michigan State University.

He was elected to the Charlottesville City Council in 2007 and is currently serving as mayor. His experiences are in the area of downtown revitalization, housing, historic preservation, transportation planning, art and culture activities, and neighborhood revitalization.

He has received honors from the Virginia Society of American Institute of Architects, recognition from the PEW Foundation for downtown revitalization, and a special recognition award from Piedmont Council for the Arts for his outstanding contribution and support for the arts. He also has been a consultant to the City of Pleven, Bulgaria, for Economic Development and Tourism Marketing.

mallek_130508Ann H. Mallek, chairman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, represents the White Hall District. She is an educator and program coordinator for Central Virginia for the Virginia Museum of Natural History. She received her B.A. in Zoology from Connecticut College, New London CT.

Ms. Mallek was elected to the Board in January 2008 and is currently serving as chairman. She serves on the following standing committees: Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission; Piedmont Workforce Network Council; Acquisition of  Conservation Easements; Property Committee;  Rivanna River Basin Commission; Charlottesville/Albemarle/UVA Planning and Coordination Council Policy Committee; LEAP Governance Board; CIP Oversight Committee; and the Crozet Community Advisory Council.

She is a member of the following organizations: League of Women Voters; Albemarle County Farm Bureau; Charlottesville-Albemarle Chamber of Commerce; Piedmont Environmental Council; Southern Environmental Law Center; Rivanna Conservation Society; Ivy Creek Foundation and the League of Conservation Voters.

Program Summary

Ms. Mallek said that the state of the county is good even given the economic downturn. The slide in property tax values has stopped and we see some increases in value along with strong commercial growth. These optimistic signs enable us to think about how we may change our focus going forward and how we address our infrastructure needs. Ms. Mallek visited 3,000 doors during the 2007 campaign and people asked why we are allowing all these people to come and not provide the infrastructure they need—the roads, schools first. One of the consequences of the economic slowdown and the need to balance the budget was to erase quite a few investments in our capital improvement program reducing the budget by $30 million, and also cutting 70 staff through attrition and retirement. Now it is important to change our focus to begin again the process of investing in the infrastructure.

Mr. Huja gave an overview of the geographics, demographics, economics and budget of Charlottesville. We have a good forward looking government and most importantly a very caring and engaged citizenry. In terms of cooperation with the county, there are many joint ventures we work together on. Among those he mentioned were the water and sewer authority, solid waste authority, regional library, regional jail, communications center, convention and visitors bureau, Darden Towe Park, and joint social agency review. Even given all of this he said we could do more and cited several areas including a joint transit system. He discussed the city budget, schools and the extensive involvement of the city in the area of affordable housing. The city has 18.5 percent of the region’s population but provides 57.5 percent of the subsidized housing and so he would like to see the county do a little more in this area. The city spends $200,000 annually for improvement of bike lanes and a half-million on sidewalk improvements because we should have safe walking and biking in our community. Meadowcreek Parkway, a 45-year project, will finally be built this year. The city and county have adopted a joint 50-year water plan. Three new hotels are in the pipeline. Mr. Huja concluded that the state of the city is very healthy and vibrant.