Friday, May 25, 2007

Full Answers to Progress Questions

Daily Progress will have profiles of all the candidates this week. Seth Rosen interviewed, we filled out a questionnaire and I got my photo taken. The Progress will likely not print the full 6 questions (except online), so I thought I would provide another place for people to read my responses.

1. What should City avoid doing that it has been doing?

a) Overtaxing homeowners. For nearly a decade, homeowner assessments
have been increasing at more than twice the rate of commercial
property. We need to spend more responsibly and shift the tax burden
away from homeowners

b) Reactionary planning. Too often, the City allows uninspired
development to take limited green space in the City without involving
neighborhoods. My goals are to preserve our neighborhood and bring
transparency to the development decision-making process.

c) Status quo thinking. I want the City to consider new ways of
working with private and nonprofit resources to maximize the
efficiency of the programs it provides.

2) What concrete steps should the city take to increase the number of affordable housing units in Charlottesville?

The question I ask is how Charlottesville transforms its housing programs beyond our historic role as the only locality in the region actively working on the provision of affordable housing. The City has to support innovative new programs, such as the CAHIP proposals. I have proposed allowing low-income and elderly homeowners to receive low interest loans to complete small and medium rehabilitation projects. This helps people keep their homes, stay in the City and preserve the fabric of our neighborhoods. The City must also encourage surrounding localities to bring more affordable housing into their communities.

3) For the upcoming fiscal year the Council set a real estate tax rate of 95 cents per $100 of assessed value and passed a 12 percent jump in the budget. Do you agree with these decisions? If not, what programs would you have tried to cut or scale back?

I disagree with the 12 percent budget increase and believe it could have been cut in half. I would have reduced the EMS proposal, I would have requested a public hearing on the need and the establishment of a regional task force to see how CARS and CFD could improve service before money was appropriated. My husband is a volunteer firefighter; I value the role of volunteerism in our community and want to promote
it as much as possible. I want to see a reduction in the number of vehicles the City has- to save on gas, insurance and maintenance costs.

4) What single best policy change would you propose for Charlottesville that costs little or no money?
The policy change I believe would be most immediately effective and which would save the taxpayers' money is to hold a public hearing on every new spending initiative before it is included in the City's budget. At a hearing, the public has an opportunity to vet the initiative, while the opportunity for partnership with other entities could be revealed. I also propose a City Councilor be appointed on the
Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority to ensure good stewardship of the taxpayers' money.

5) What would you do to improve relations with Albemarle County? Are there any services that you believe should be considered for consolidation?

As a Councilor, I will work to strengthen and expand the City's partnerships with Albemarle County and the University. I'd like to see more cooperation, along with area nonprofit advocacy groups on environmental stewardship and trail planning. The superintendents of the schools are improving their partnership and I would like to see similar cooperation on youth development outside of the schools. The Planning Commissions could meet more regularly to work through issues of transportation and growth. My goal would be to see more cooperation with these partnerships to maximize our tax dollar and to have the City and County's concerns voiced.

6) What should the city do to preserve and improve parking options downtown?
Bringing people into the downtown area will require new creative ways of looking at transportation, parking and transit. In the short term,we need to encourage more downtown employees to use the Water street parking garage (which has several hundred empty spaces) to free up on- street parking. I also want to see the City partner with State and Federal transit programs, along with the private sector, to encourage park and rides, vanpools and carpoolers, and the use of structured parking. However my primary goal is to bring reliable, convenient and attractive transit options to the City and to improve bike and pedestrian facilities.

1 comment:

David J McKeever said...

Hey Jen!! It's your ever forgetful brother! I want to thank you for this eye opening post in your blog! Very informative for those of us who do not make politics our priority! I also saw you on T.V. this morning... I was filled with pride on seeing you and thought to myself... Charlottesville has no idea what it's in for messin with my sister!!!! GO JEN!!!!