Lynchburg City Council Public Meeting
June 13, 2023
III. Consent agenda approved without discussion
- Public Meeting
IV.4 Community Development Block Grant / HOME appropriations approved. ($711k and $470k)
IV.5 Rezoning certain parcels in the Tate Springs and Langhorne Road area for the expansion of the Centra Health Medical Campus.
Council members Helgeson, Dolan and Wilder each stated that they served on various boards related to Centra, but stated they could deliberate objectively.
This proposal was approved by the planning commission on April 12 and presented to Council on May 23, as part of a $500 million investment.
Council members made general statements of support for Centra as a key stakeholder in the City, fostering job creation.
Helgeson raised concerns about “parking lots in people’s backyards” and concerns that neighbors would have very limited opportunity for future input under I-2 zoning as Conditional Use Permits are not required under I-2 zoning. (It is unclear if he raised the same concerns when he initiated similar zoning changes for TRBC.) He asked for clarification about any height restrictions in Centra’s plan and was eventually convinced that no plans for a building higher than 5 stories were anticipated.
After the presentation and clarification about how the changes in zoning from Business to Institutional-2 affect permitted growth,
Council approved (7-0) rezoning various sites including the former Holy Cross School site for development by Centra Health to expand their medical campus.
IV.6 Approval of VA Department of Health Drinking Water State Revolving Fund FY2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Lead Service Line Inventory Funds.
This involves the use of a $100k grant (with potential max loan of $600k) to inventory 22,000 water delivery/service lines for the presence of lead. Does not include funds for testing and/or replacement. The fiscal impact is the repayment of the loan. The inventory is required by 2021 EPA rules which also require that the City develop a plan for abatement should it be necessary.
Misjuns asked, “What would be the result if we didn’t do it?” The result would probably be a legal action by EPA resulting in a fine and order for compliance. Misjuns then suggested that the City “sue EPA to pay for it” blaming President Biden for the rules.
The motion passed, 5-2, with Misjuns and Faraldi voting no. [no concern for citizens who might be drinking lead-contaminated water!]
- Public Comments
V.7 Brandon Jones advocated for police to patrol certain areas on foot (Park/Kemper) as drug dealing and use is rising, along with other crimes. Also wants more treatment access.
V.8 Robert Flood advocated for more cameras to be installed in hot spots, particularly in Ward II. He also supports the implementation of the curfew and asked if LPD would consider placing (adjunct) precincts in these neighborhoods.
V.10 FJ Jalil asked about how the City is monitoring interactions between youth and police and suggested the curfew ordinance might be voided for its vagueness. He stated that there is a need for continuous evaluation and adjustment. He said that a systematic review of 29 studies indicates that curfews can have an adverse effect on mental health. Consistency in implementation is important to the success of a curfew and should be questioned with monthly reports to Council, stressing the positive outcomes.
V.11 Skipper Holt addressed the lack of quality candidates for LPD, LFD and LCS Board and teachers. He stated that we all want quality education in Lynchburg and noted that although Council had recently increased funds for LPD and LFD, they had reduced funds for LCS by $1.4 million. He opined that this is the wrong path.
- General Business
VI.12 Approval of interviews of candidates for School Board.
Interviews are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, June 20 and 21, open to the public.
VI.13 Amending LCS Major Funding Classification Funding FY2024
This is a request from LCS to move $705,385 from Administration and $629,471 from Technology to Instruction to “increase the amount of funds in the instruction category which are needed to support salaries and benefits for teachers, school counselors, instructional assistants, and other student services and school-based personnel.”
Faraldi said the new method of appropriating funds to schools “seems to be working.” This is the “largest investment in the teaching category ever.”
Helgeson clarified that this recategorization of $1.3 million was not new money, just moving from one area to another.
Misjuns said he is pleased with the dialogue with the Superintendent, but then spun the funds as a huge increase in instruction.
Dolan addressed Misjuns statement repeating that this $1.3 million is not new money, just reclassification from administration to instruction.
VI.14 Second reading of the FY 2024 Budget, for adoption
Recap of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) process, noting hiccups along the way. The budget was set for approval 3 weeks ago but concerns about CIP stopped the approval. Reed noted a phone call at that time that indicated a desire by Misjuns, Helgeson, Taylor and Faraldi to change their previous vote of approval thus postponing the finalization of the budget. She was critical of the lack of communication (she was excluded from that phone call) and transparency in the process.
She said they would focus on the CIP in the FY2024 budget only.
Reed presented two options.
- Approve the budget as presented by staff and previously deliberated and approved by Council, or
- Specify each item in the CIP to be considered, pushing some things off to the future. She mentioned items presented as ‘essential-now or essential-later.’
Among the essential-now, she included safety, beautification, and investment in downtown.
Taylor stated that he was “pleased” to pass FY2024 budget and move forward.
Misjuns just criticized the mayor for her lack of communication saying he had not had one phone call from her since January 1.
Helgeson proposed a reduction of $10 million with 3.5 million in projects to defer for future consideration. He suggested that funds for downtown beautification be reduced from $6 million to $2 million. He also said “don’t replace things until they need to be replaced” [contrary to his criticism of LCS postponement of maintenance at Paul Monroe School.] He continued by saying that the City was “getting paid to wait” because it would earn more money by “sitting on cash.” [presumes that costs will come down]
Wilder repeated the value of investments in the downtown area, saying that “some people have voted ‘no’ for years” [referring to Helgeson’s past votes on budgets]. He stated his support for the original motion by Taylor to pass the budget as presented.
Helgeson’s motion failed 2-5; the Original motion passed 4-3.