General Assembly rejects 'Bell Amendment' for third time

Proposal would require transfer of $3 million of Charlottesville funds


Albemarle School Board Chair Ned Gallaway advocated for the Bell Amendment, which failed to pass in the General Assembly in Richmond.

A proposed budget amendment which sought to reshape spending on Charlottesville and Albemarle schools failed to gain traction in Richmond for the third time earlier this month.

The amendment, put forward by Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, would have changed the way the 1982 revenue sharing agreement achieves funding for both Albemarle and Charlottesville schools. The proposal never made it into the budget bill, first read to the House of Delegates Tuesday, Feb. 18.

The 1982 agreement — which transfers money from Albemarle County property taxes into Charlottesville’s school budget in exchange for prohibiting Charlottesville from annexing Albemarle land — has no end date, and Albemarle School Board Chair Ned Gallaway said it has a negative impact on Albemarle schools.

“It reduces our share of local revenue received from local government, and it also reduces state funding to our schools,” Gallaway said.

Bell’s amendment would require the transfer of $3 million of funding from Charlottesville to Albemarle County schools.

“I think that it is unfair to penalize Charlottesville city schools for a deal that has been made 30 years ago between the city and the county,” Charlottesville School Board Chair Juan Wade said. “The counties didn’t want Charlottesville … to annex into the counties because [Charlottesville] would have gotten all of the development area.”

The agreement is specifically concerned with land near Route 29.

The Albemarle County School Board supported Bell’s amendment. The additional revenue would have gone toward shrinking Albemarle County’s current budget gap, Gallaway said.

“Had the amendment passed, our gap would have [been] reduced to $3.3 million, preventing the need for some cuts that otherwise will impact the classroom,” Gallaway said.

If the amendment had passed, the Charlottesville School Board would either have had to make major cuts or go to the Charlottesville government to ask for funds, Wade said.

The revenue sharing agreement between Charlottesville and Albemarle is not unique within the state of Virginia — one of the reasons the House chose not to support this amendment, Wade said.

“There are many other agreements like this throughout the state — and if they opened this one up, it would set precedent,” Wade said.

Published February 26, 2014 in FP test, News

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