Legislative requests approved

Published 10:21 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Suffolk City Council on Wednesday approved a legislative agenda that included requests pertaining to education funding, transportation safety and more but did not include a city charter change.

Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett proposed the change in the Nov. 4 meeting, where the legislative agenda was first discussed. Suffolk’s city charter currently requires a council member who wants to run for mayor to resign his or her seat to do so, but Bennett hoped to change that. General Assembly action is required to change the city charter.

This Wednesday, Bennett noted state legislators running for mayor, congressional legislators running for president and other cases in which elected officials don’t have to give up one seat to run for another.

Email newsletter signup

“I think it’s more than fair a council person should have the same opportunity,” he said.

Currently, the mayor and three council seats — Nansemond, Sleepy Hole and Whaleyville boroughs — are elected on the same day as the president of the United States. The other four boroughs — Suffolk, Cypress, Holy Neck and Chuckatuck — are elected during the mid-term elections two years later.

After a motion to approve the legislative agenda as presented had been made, Bennett made a substitute motion to approve it with the edition of the charter change request. It died for lack of a second, and the legislative agenda was approved as presented.

It includes six legislative requests, six policy positions and a list of transportation priorities and other state and federal funding requests.

The legislative requests include:

  • The approval of an incentive program for voluntary groundwater conservation
  • Increased funding for public education
  • Relocation of the Commonwealth Mainline rails to reduce the effects of rail crossing delays on traffic, businesses, emergency response times and quality of life
  • Exemption from a state policy that recovers money from the Western Tidewater Regional Jail for federal prisoners housed in facilities built with state funds, as the jail’s 1999 addition and the officers that staff it are funded entirely with local dollars
  • The continued support of the historic preservation tax credit program
  • Legislation that would provide for the Virginia Department of Education to pay its share of retirement costs for school employees

The policy positions include:

  • Opposition to the shifting of costs to local government through underfunding, reduction or elimination of programs and services and unfunded mandates
  • Opposition to the repeal or restriction of the Business, Professional and Occupational License and Machinery and Tool taxes
  • Funding for plans to restore the Chesapeake Bay and the James River watershed

The state and federal funding requests include:

  • U.S. Route 58
  • A new Kings Highway Bridge
  • A bridge over the Nansemond River parallel to the Godwin Bridge
  • Improvements related to increased rail traffic and funding for safety upgrades or grade separation at existing at-grade rail crossings
  • Continued maintenance dredging of Bennett’s Creek
  • State funding for Hampton Roads localities to meet sanitary sewer consent orders