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Council to meet with legislators

Published 8:29pm Friday, November 23, 2012

Suffolk City Council will meet with the city’s General Assembly delegation to discuss unfunded mandates, transportation projects and other pressing issues on Tuesday.

The dinner meeting, which is open to the public, will take place at 6 p.m. at Obici House, 4700 Sleepy Hole Road. It is the second such event for Suffolk since the statewide redistricting process and subsequent elections gave the city several new representatives.

“Last year’s event was extremely successful and productive,” said Sherry Hunt, the city’s intergovernmental affairs and special projects manager. “It gives council an opportunity to have a dialogue with our legislators where council can communicate the priorities and the legislative requests for Suffolk.”

The city’s legislative agenda this year includes a variety of funding requests, initiatives and policy positions.

Its transportation-related funding requests include money for the widening of Holland Road; a bridge over the Nansemond River parallel to the current Godwin Bridge, expand the bridge’s capacity; replacement of the Kimberly Bridge and raising a portion of North Main Street; safety upgrades at rail crossings; and replacement of the King’s Highway Bridge.

The city also is requesting a change in the designation criteria for enterprise zones, a designation that gives incentives to companies to open shop in economically depressed areas.

Rather than using demographic information for the entire locality to determine eligibility for the enterprise zone, the state should use data from individual census tracts, the city is proposing. In that way, areas of the locality that are better off would not keep other areas from qualifying.

The city also adopted policy positions that support restoring $50 million of aid to localities reduced in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget; oppose unfunded mandates; oppose uranium mining in Virginia; support the creation of a long-term, dedicated and sustainable source of additional revenue for transportation projects; and support a study on the Commonwealth Railway relocation project.

The city also supports a bid by the Western Tidewater Regional Jail to seek funding to increase staff.

Items to monitor in the city’s legislative agenda also include Virginia Retirement System changes, cash proffers and the Business, Professional and Occupational Licenses taxes.

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