Council to hold special meeting this week

Published 10:28 pm Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Suffolk City Council will have a special meeting this week with members of the city’s legislative delegation to present its legislative agenda.

With several new senators and delegates representing parts of the city after the statewide redistricting, Council members want to build relationships, they said recently.

“The more they see our face and the more we show our presence, the more they’ll remember our face when they go to Richmond,” Councilman Charles Parr said during the City Council retreat in September.

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The special dinner meeting will occur at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Obici House, 4700 Sleepy Hole Road. It is open to the public.

The list of requests on the city’s legislative agenda includes transportation funding, ending unfunded and underfunded mandates, several studies on transportation topics and more.

Delegate Chris Jones (R-64), a seasoned lawmaker who now is the only Suffolk resident representing the city in the General Assembly, said he plans to attend the meeting and is looking forward to discussing the issues on the city’s plate. But, he cautioned, this session already is shaping up to be a difficult one in terms of funding.

“From my perspective, it’s going to be a very difficult session from the budget perspective,” he said, naming issues such as education funding, Medicaid enrollment growth and the uncertainty surrounding how federal budget cuts will affect Virginia as possible stumbling blocks.

“It will be good to sit down with the city next week,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a good attendance by the legislative delegation on Wednesday night and see what’s on the city’s mind.”

Jones said the pre-filing deadline is Dec. 5, which makes the city’s meeting timely. The governor presents his budget Dec. 19, and the session opens Jan. 11.

Among the items in the city’s legislative agenda, it wants the state to:

  • End unfunded and underfunded mandates, and reversing the $60-million reduction for the current fiscal year.
  • Fund transportation projects including widening Holland Road and Nansemond Parkway, replacing the King’s Highway Bridge and adding a parallel span to the Godwin Bridge on Route 17.
  • Conduct a study on the Commonwealth Rail Line Safety Relocation project, which would move the line to the median of Route 164.
  • Strike language in a 6-year-old agreement regarding the 55-acre site in North Suffolk owned by the Economic Development Authority. The agreement currently states the land will be used for defense and technology related uses only. Getting rid of the language would clear the way for other types of development.
  • Conduct a study on the impacts of port-related rail traffic in Suffolk.