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The 434 Newsletter - January 2024 - Highlighting City Council

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Summary

We had a lot of positive action this January!


This month, we covered tax relief, strategic investments, further addressing mental health, and much, much more. I encourage you to skim through this newsletter and look at some of the votes we had. If you have questions on my stance on those items, please reference the Summary below.

 

One item I was proud to have championed was to again partner with Horizon Behavioral Health to place an officer in the field with a mental health clinician. This means Lynchburg will be one of the only localities in the Commonwealth to have a mental health worker in the streets to directly get folks the help they need, as opposed to sending them to the hospital for hours on end.

 

In conjunction with the Crisis Receiving Center I pushed for last year, also with Horizon, Lynchburg is leading the way with mental health solutions, and I could not be more humbled to be a part of the process.



For more information on our agenda items and my votes,

please see below or visit www.chrisfaraldi.com.


 

Public Hearings & Zoning


Resolutions:

Granting a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to West Lynchburg Baptist Church Preschool to allow the use of an existing structure at 3031 Memorial Avenue as a childcare facility. [PASSED: 7-0]

Approving the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Programs for the Fiscal Year 2025 (Program Year 2024) Annual Action Plan. [PASSED: 7-0]

Amending Section 14-33 of Article III of Chapter 14 of the Lynchburg City Code and relocating the polling place of the Fourth Precinct of the Second Ward from Fairview Christian Church to William Marvin Bass Elementary School. [PASSED: 7-0]

Ordinances:

Amending Section 14-33 of Article III of Chapter 14 of the Lynchburg City Code and relocating the polling place of the Fourth Precinct of the Second Ward from Fairview Christian Church to William Marvin Bass Elementary School. [PASSED: 7-0]

Amending the FY 2024 Budget as well as adopting Ordinances for public safety recruitment and retention bonuses [PASSED: 6-0] and to waive specified FY 2025 fees. [PASSED: 5-1, Faraldi (NO)] (1)

Amending City Code to provide surety requirements for the decommissioning of energy storage facilities. [PASSED: 7-0]


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General Business


Resolutions:

Amending the FY 2024 - 2028 Capital Improvement Program and the FY 2024 City Capital Projects Fund budget and appropriating $3,000,000 in funds from the FY 2024 General Fund Unassigned Fund Balance to be used for Riverfront Park Improvements (Amphitheater). [PASSED: 5-1, Faraldi (YES)] (2)

Ordinances:

N/A


Finance


Amending the FY 2024 City/Federal/State Aid Fund budget and appropriating $225,692 for the 2023 US Department of Justice COPS Hiring Program Grant. [PASSED: 6-0]

Amending the FY 2024 City/Federal/State Aid Fund budget and appropriating $400,000 for the implementation of a mental health co-responder model. [PASSED: 6-0]

Consideration of adopting a Resolution to increase the City's lane

mileage for VDOT Highway Maintenance Payments. [PASSED: 6-0]

Consideration of adopting a resolution amending the FY 2024 Budget

to reflect adjustments in the General ($1,000,000), Fleet Services ($2,400,000),

and City Capital Projects ($4,900,000) Funds with resources of $8,300,000 from

the Unassigned General Fund Balance. [PASSED: 5-1, Faraldi (YES)] (3)

Consideration of allocating $15,000 to Lynchburg City Schools for the purpose of supplementing funds to the Heritage Theater Program to compete in the South Eastern Theater Conference. [PASSED: 5-1, Faraldi (YES)] (4)


 

Summary Of Divided Votes

Waiver of Fees (1)

One of my main commitments while on city council is to bring fiscal sanity to our city. A key part of this principle is to find creative ways for lowering the cost of living in Lynchburg. This vote was to made to communicate a perspective that had to be offered.

After receiving criticism regarding my tax relief proposals hours before this meeting, one of which is to remove this trash collection fee, I would have thought this vote would have brought more debate or discussion. It didn’t.

When speaking to why I voted against my own proposal, I made my thoughts clear. That being, I thought it was disingenuous to frame this policy as “not conservative” and then immediately turn around and immediately motion for its re-approval. Seemingly, that places a desire to score political points over delivering solutions for Lynchburg. Not to mention, I would have liked to see the car tax be dropped more than these two items. Nevertheless, I am pleased to see this is a policy we can all get behind.

In the end, I stand by my support of the policy. Council will have a second opportunity to support this measure, and just as I did last year, I cast this initial vote knowing I will be supporting it at that time.

Riverfront (2)

It is not lost to me that the debate over the Riverfront Amphitheater has brought significant debate. Many have differing opinions and thoughts. Let me share some things with you to consider...

One of the main points of those in the opposition was its location. This asset is being designed knowing full-well that it is in a floodplain. We have examples of similar developments in similar locations that are designed like ours Lynchburg.


The next point is that of the price point. Opponents say we “just spent another $8 million” on this project. This is not true. The consideration at this time was to use $3 million from our end of year surplus (which was much smaller than in years past) to supplement grants received during COVID from the Federal Government. The direct cost on the Lynchburg taxpayer is this $3 million, and the prospect of bringing more economic activity to Lynchburg is something I will always strongly consider.

I would also note this is no different, in my view, from the way we as a city approach the City Stadium (a city-owned, privately operated asset). Should we then, by the logic of the opposition, also cease operations at the City Stadium?


Another critique of the opposition was the ongoing costs. While this is fair, the asset itself will be operated by a private company. This would include staff and other costs. We as a city, yes, would be on the hook for maintenance repairs and other costs, but this negotiation with the private operator dramatically reduces the costs on our side.

I can confidently say that private businesses and organizations have discussed with me the notion of naming rights, not unlike the Bank of the James stadium for the Hillcats. Those funds alone would recoup the investment made here on the frontend in short order.

In the end, I am in support of this development, along with the majority of Republicans on Council, and look forward to seeing the first show!


One Time Spending (3)

This package has a lot to offer. It includes tax relief, strategic investments, and vision casting.

One third of this proposal is set aside for tax relief, specifically, continuing to waive the Trash Collection and Car Registration Fees (which could total up to $175 for taxpayers, for those who only have one vehicle and use the city trash collection).

We as a city also have needs that must be addressed. Some of these needs I would have preferred to avoid for the time being. I must note that I don’t support all the items in this category. Even still, purchasing a new Ladder Truck for the Fire Department was top of the list for me and something I will always support. We also adopted a Public Safety Recruiting & Retention Strategy from this category, again something that I will always support.

Finally, the last category had needed improvements and expansions to various parks around the city, including Heritage Park. These improvements to Heritage Park are greatly needed as it is the only public park for the entire Timberlake corridor.

In the end, sometimes we have packages that aren’t perfect. And sometimes those packages have too little for a vote of support, or enough for support. In this case, I supported the package because it addressed some of me key priorities set out four years ago – economic development, public safety, and tax relief.


Heritage Theater Program (4)

The Heritage Theater Program was invited to attend and compete in the Southeaster Theater Conference with their latest performance. But the problem was they didn’t have the resources to get there.

The program took it upon themselves to raise funds, both via private donors and a performance at the Academy Theater. Even still, they came up short.

A vivid memory of mine was when the football team at my school had all the bells and whistles to get to their major competitions or championships, but the marching band couldn’t get to their multi-state championships because of lack of resources. I knew this was not right and there was a discrepancy.

In this case, City Council has access to over one million dollars for contingencies. I proposed we use $15,000 to fill the gap and get these students on a trip they will likely remember for their entire lives. And, in the end, it passed; such a policy costs each Lynchburg citizen a nickel, and I know this is an item the overwhelming majority of residents would rally behind.


 


As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Ward IV Representative & Vice Mayor of Lynchburg City Council. If I may ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours,


Chris Faraldi, M.A.

Ward IV Representative, Vice Mayor

Lynchburg City Council



PAID FOR & AUTHORIZED BY FARALDI FOR LYNCHBURG

PO Box 4803, Lynchburg, VA 24502

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