HJR 432

Commission on the Condition and Future of Virginia's Cities

May 24, 1999, Richmond

The 24-member commission, comprised of House and Senate members, representatives of local government, and members of the Governor's cabinet, began its second year of study by reviewing the results of the first year's work and outlining a work plan for 1999.

In 1998 the commission focused primarily on identifying the problems faced by the Commonwealth's urban areas. However, the commission also saw some of its interim recommendations adopted during the 1998 Session, including a return of full funding of "House Bill 599" assistance to localities and the creation of a commission to study the Commonwealth's state and local tax structure. In addition, the General Assembly passed several pieces of legislation to begin addressing the problem of blight in the cities.

1999 Work Plan

For its 1999 work plan, the commission tentatively set dates for five additional meetings, including a following up to last year's statewide summit. The plan calls for this year's summit to focus on finding solutions to the service and structural priority issues identified at last year's summit. Issues related to tax structure are to be referred to the new tax commission studying this issue. Subsequent meetings of the HJR 432 commission and its subcommittees will refine and build consensus around some of the solutions identified at the summit. The commission will then make specific legislative recommendations for the 2000 Session. In addition, the subcommittee assignments were altered to reflect the fact that the summit subcommittee's work will be completed in July and that the finance subcommittee's work will consist primarily of monitoring the work of the new tax commission.

June 7, 1999, Charlottesville

Summit Meeting

The commission, with the support of the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia, held its second summit to focus attention on finding solutions to the service and structural priority issues identified at the first summit. With a keynote address by the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, the all-day meeting was attended by over 200 local government officials, legislators, business leaders and other interested parties. The participants divided into two groups, one to hear presentations related to local services and the other to hear presentations related to local structures. At the conclusion of the presentations, the participants broke into numerous small groups to develop possible solutions to present to the concluding plenary session.

Many of the proposed solutions dealt with determining the appropriate level of funding from the state and the proper division of responsibilities between the state and localities. Other possible solutions addressed annexation, independent cities, and the Dillon Rule. A summary of the proposals will be presented to the commission at the July meeting.

Next Meeting

The commission's next meeting will be held on July 7, 1999, in Richmond, with further meetings scheduled for September 9, November 17 and December 17. The subcommittee meeting schedule has not yet been determined.

The Honorable Thomas W. Moss, Jr., Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Jeff Sharp