by Phillip Fassieux
The 1982 Annexation and Revenue Sharing Agreement (herein referred to as “RSA” or “agreement”) between the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, VA continues to present an unnecessary financial burden on County residents. The agreement’s original purpose of halting City annexations in return for a payment of County revenue became obsolete when the Commonwealth placed a moratorium on municipal annexations in 1987. The moratorium potentially frustrates the original purpose of the RSA, making it unenforceable.
To date, no declaratory judgement has been pursued in the courts by Albemarle County to determine if the original conditions around its signing qualify it to be nullified and whether the 1987 annexation moratorium made the agreement unenforceable. County residents deserve to have the appropriate court review the RSA, the circumstances surrounding its signing, a determination of the viability of legal action to extricate the County from the agreement, and whether any County officials have a personal interest in keeping the agreement in force. And if appropriate, Albemarle residents deserve to know if any restitution can be sought from the City.
According to Albemarle County’s FY18 Recommended Budget, the BoS is preparing to pay $15.86 million (or 8.86 percent of forecasted property tax revenue) to the City of Charlottesville in fulfillment of the RSA signed in 1982 for the purpose of fending off annexation attempts by the City of Charlottesville. If the FY18 budget is approved as it’s currently written, the County will have paid the City nearly $296 million since the agreement went into effect in 1982. Research of the original text of the RSA (see Appendix A), the documented testimony of 1982 County Officials (see Appendix B), and analysis of City of Charlottesville Budgets (Figures 1 thru 3) reveal the following:
- County Officials deviated from the mandated procedures by forgoing the “meeting of City and County Officials” in favor of mail and email to calculate payment amounts. This arrangement prevents public inspection of, or comment on, calculations without a FOIA request and is in conflict with the RSA agreement.
- Payment analysis reveals two separate values of real estate tax base data used to calculate payment amounts. The lower value is reported on County Budget documents while the higher value is used in RSA payment calculations. The average amount differed by over $2.4 billion. Explanation is owed.
- The 17-Feb-82 County meeting minutes contain specific instances where County Officials cite specific threats from the City (by way of annexation) as reason enter into agreement, suggesting the agreement was signed under duress; a factor which could nullify the agreement.
- The City removes any identifying description of the RSA revenue once the monies enter the City’s Capital Improvement Program Fund; confounding the ability to determine how the RSA funds are used by the City and who can compete for CIP-funded projects.
Download and read the entire white paper report here: A Case for Seeking Declaratory Relief from the Annexation and Revenue Sharing Agreement between the CITY OF CHARLOTTESVILLE and the COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE, dated February 17, 1982.
Perhaps Albemarle County citizens can band together to force action on this issue. A lawsuit against the city would be welcome and timely with the other issues the city is facing.
Just think, that annual extortion payment would hire 211 teachers at a salary/bennies package of $75,000 per year. This is mind-boggling that Albie never pursued this aggressively from the moment the moratorium was placed in 1987. One wonders why.