The City of Albemarle?
Incumbent Democrat Ann Mallek announced her official candidacy for re-election as the White Hall District supervisor at the Crozet Community Association’s meeting Jan. 13. Mallek said her operational principles will continue to be “to represent the citizens, to do the preparation and research for informed decision-making and to facilitate citizen participation.”
Pointing to first-term successes, she cited increased public participation at her town hall meetings, the reopening of the Advance Mills bridge, the outcome of the Economic Vitality Plan with ordinance changes favorable to rural enterprises, and the creation of a revalidation process for those wanting to claim land use tax rates.
The county’s most immediate challenge, she said, is to fund local government adequately. She blamed state funding cuts for the biggest share of the burden on localities. Second, she said, the county must soon begin to fund some capital projects, such as the new Crozet library. Third, she called for vigilant protection of the county’s natural endowments and, fourth, she promised to oversee public construction projects in downtown Crozet (the streetscape, stormwater and Jarmans Gap Road projects), to ensure their completion on schedule.
“The County vision,” Mallek said, “called our Comprehensive Plan, has been written and modified by generations of Albemarle residents. New development projects are pieces of the puzzle outlined by the comprehensive plan. Any decisions to amend the plan should be made on county need for the proposed project and on the project’s ability to provide associated infrastructure. To ‘let the market decide’ as some have suggested is to abdicate our responsibility to represent county residents and community versus focusing on the success of individuals. What is good for a few is not necessarily good for the rest.”
Appearing at the annual business meeting of the Stonegate Homeowners Association Jan. 25, Mallek faced citizen displeasure over the Charlottesville/Albemarle “revenue sharing” agreement, in which the “sharing” goes only one way. The county was due to turover about $18 million to the city by the last day of January.
Couldn’t the deal be renegotiated, some asked. Mallek said it was unlikely the city would be willing to change it, and defying the agreement would likely result in a court victory for the city. “It’s a very thorny issue,” she said. Sixty percent of Albemarle voters approved the pact in a referendum, she noted, haplessly just the year before the General Assembly defanged the city’s annexation threat with a moratorium that will be in effect until at least 2019.
Albemarle could petition for a charter as a city government when it reaches a population of 100,000, she said. She said the county now has about 97,000 people and should reach the threshold population in three years. “It would give us more ability to make our own choices,” she said.
Challenged to explain what some saw as high water and sewer rates—“They increase the rate if we use it and they increase the rate if we conserve it,” one gentleman observed—Mallek said, “I understand the concern about rates, but the money is not being thrown away. It’s being used, I think very responsibly, to plan for the future and maintain our pipes. I think the Service Authority is representing you well.” She noted that its newest member, Bill Kittrell, a biologist, is from Crozet.