- Report Published -
|Condition and Future of Virginia's Cities|
|Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations|
|SJR 218 (Regular Session, 2000)|
|Senate Joint Resolution 218 (SJR 218), which was enacted by the 2000 General Assembly, directed the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) to conduct a two-year follow-up study of the work of the Commission on the Condition and Future of Virginia's Cities (Cities Commission). Specifically, the ACIR was requested to study the recommendations of the Cities Commission and to make additional recommendations for measures to alleviate the growing social and economic problems confronting Virginia's urban localities.|
The previous study was completed in 1999 and resulted in a set of thirty-five specific recommendations. Of those, eleven dealt with various aspects of Virginia's complex State-local tax structure and were assigned for further review to a special commission comprised of citizens with financial and tax expertise, the Commission on Virginia's State and Local Tax Structure for the 21st Century. The ACIR was requested to study the remaining twenty-four, which encompassed a broad array of relevant issues such as education funding, transportation, social services, and blight control.
Like the Cities Commission, the ACIR determined that the best approach to the study would be to seek consensus about the issues and to build broad-based support for any resulting recommendations in order to improve their chance of success in the General Assembly. Toward that end, the ACIR held two work sessions, which included panels of local government experts, in the summer and early fall of 2000. As a result of the first work session, the ACIR adopted a set of broad goals for the SJR 218 study. The primary outcome of the second one was consensus about the need to coordinate the work of concurrent study commissions. The ACIR's first regional conference was held at Mary Washington College on October 16, 2000. Its goal was to increase awareness about some of the quality of life issues that had emerged as central to the study and to broaden the dialogue.
The testimony and discussions the ACIR has heard to date indicate that some of Virginia's urban areas, especially its older core cities, face social and economic problems. Evidence shows that the quality of life in these cities is steadily declining with human costs that are unacceptably high. These conditions call for new market-based solutions to increase the tools available to local governments. To the extent such localities are allowed to languish, the State as a whole will suffer the consequences. Virginia's future prosperity will depend in part on how successful we are in reversing these trends and reinvigorating our urban and metropolitan areas so that they can compete effectively with comparable regions in other states.