An Update From Richmond …

Today’s the first full day of the VAR Legislative & Education Conference, and already it’s been a whirlwind.  While the bulk of the attendees are "lunching" in a ballroom somewhere, I’m recovering with an Arby’s turkey sandwich (have you seen the new Arby’s redesign?  Actual rotisserie meats and stuff, very nice) and my ever present Diet Pepsi, trying to remember everything we did this morning. 

The bulk of the morning has been spent visiting our Delegates & Senators, and discussing with them some of the bills coming through the General Assembly and how they affect the New River Valley.  Items of importance, sure, but none seems to be as hotly contested as SB768 and the budget shortfall.

SB768 passed the Senate on the 12th of February, and is now in the House for review.  Essentially, the Bill caps the amount a municipality can charge a developer in fees.  The current system allows for "proffers" – fees charged to a developer when a house is built, or a lot rezoned for development.  In some cases, developers are being charged upwards of $45,000 per lot, which ultimately gets passed on the property buyer and increases the cost to the consumer.  SB768 limits the amount of the proffer the municipality can charge to $12500 in the 51st state – Northern VA – and $7500 throughout the rest of the state.  Those are STILL large numbers, but quite a bit less than what’s currently being charged, and possibly bringing more properties in line with buyers’ budgets.

As with any bill, there are arguments for and against.  Being in Richmond this week, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people a WHOLE lot smarter than me, and so I forced Jim Duncan to sit down and talk for a few minutes.  Jim talked candidly about his take on the bill, specifically how while he agreed with the need for capping the rates on proffers, he wanted to see local municipalities set the limit and NOT state legislature.  Personally, I think a cap – state-mandated or not – is a good thing.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this one.  The word right now is it’s being tabled for 2008, and will be revisited for 2009.  The drama continues.

More from Richmond tomorrow, this should be fun.

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