A task force chaired by Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity announced recommendations aimed at reducing financial and administrative burdens on local governments.
Herrity joined Gov. Bob McDonnell Monday at a press conference announcing the legislation resulting from the task force’s initial report. The task force was charged with identifying and making recommendations on state mandates to localities.
The task force recommended the elimination or modification of more than 60 mandates. State lawmakers are introducing in the 2012 General Assembly session at the request of the governor and other legislators reflecting the vast majority of the recommendations.
“I am very happy that we have a governor who understands the strains on local governments and has the desire to see those strains eased," Herrity said in a statement. "These recommendations are common sense, will provide fiscal relief to localities and the Commonwealth, and will enable both to more efficiently serve Virginia’s residents. This report is a great first step, and I look forward to continuing our work to better serve the residents of the Commonwealth. “
The task force, which first met in November, solicited input from local governments, school divisions, interest groups, and the public to identify mandates that are considered burdensome, costly and/or unnecessary and recommend appropriate changes.
The task force analyzed those suggestions, obtained public comment, and solicited comment from the agencies responsible for administering those mandates, resulting in the recommendations contained within an interim report.
The task force recommendations include:
- Eliminating the requirement that localities must offer online SOL testing in middle schools. In Fairfax County alone this program costs over $4 million to set up, then an additional $4 million plus a year to run. While online testing is a worthwhile objective an additional $4 million per year would enable FCPS to hire nearly 60 new teachers.
- Eliminating the "Kings Dominion" rule and let local jurisdictions decide when the school year starts. The start time for schools should be tailored to each unique jurisdiction and its education needs.
- Eliminating the requirement that all secondary road projects must be approved by VDOT Central Office in Richmond even after they have been approved by regional VDOT offices. This is a clear case of duplicative efforts because regional offices follow the same guidelines as central office. This will cut back on significant staff hours at the state level and will allow for quicker approval times for secondary road projects saving local dollars.
- Modifying the requirement that localities have to buy space in newspapers to advertise requests for proposals for government contracts and instead can advertise them online and in public spaces. This would allow localities to save money and utilize technology that is much more efficient.
- Eliminate the requirement that all bus shelters constructed on VDOT roadways go through the Department of General Services permitting process; resulting in administrative burden and lost ad revenues. Bus shelters are already constructed to Uniform Building Code criteria and the need to go through DGS was not apparent.
- Recommended reducing the number of reports that every school system must submit to the state by 15%. This would eliminate a significant amount of staff hours and would allow localities to focus resources into the classroom.
- Allowing jails that are accredited by the American Correctional Association, which have identical standards as the Department of Corrections, to no longer have to be inspected by the Department of Corrections, assuming the accreditation is maintained. This prevents duplicative inspections and will ease the work burden of both local jails and the Department of Corrections.
- Eliminating state inspections of erosion and sediment control programs where localities have already established inspections. This will save money for both the state and localities because it will prevent duplicative efforts and will allow localities to not have to facilitate state inspections.
- Eliminate the mandate that local governments submit Urban Development Area reports to the Commission on Local Government. Reports take immense staff hours to produce and by removing this mandate jurisdictions can re-direct those hours to areas of greater need. The reports, once submitted to the Commission on Local Government, served little use beyond a formal requirement, especially in small rural localities.
- Eliminating the mandate that local Community Service Boards may only contract an Executive Director for the maximum of one year. This allows CSBs to hire directors for longer periods of time which allows for better leveraging of resources and to take advantage of negotiating longer term contracts.