Delegate Bloxom provides update on major infrastructure investments from General Assembly session

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Hi, this is Rob Bloxom with this week’s report from the Capitol. I’m going to focus on the things that came out of the budget conference committee that relate to the 100e District. I filed an amendment for a successful Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) study for an East Coast gas pipeline. This is $200,000 to study viability and explore commercial contracts to support the construction of a natural gas mainline in Accomack County. The sewer extension was included in Governor Northam’s budget, but we made some adjustments to the grant amount and increased the coverage area. The towns of Exmore and Wachapreague received the amount that would be needed to connect to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) sewer line. I also requested that the funds include Accomac and Parksley. These extensions are designed to connect commercial users in cities and along the pipeline route. This infrastructure is crucial for new development. Overall, the state’s investment in the central sewer will amount to $11.9 million to complement the $25 million invested by HRSD.

The housing tax credit for low or modest income rental housing is the next subject that accompanies the installation of mains drainage. I had a bill that died in the Appropriations Committee because the ten-year accumulation of appropriations created such a long and large liability. Virginia’s state budget is a two-year document, so it could not be put together quickly. The other reason why my bill had to die in committee was because a senior Democratic senator had the related bill, so from a bargaining perspective it was advantageous for her to pass this law Project. This tax credit works with the federal housing tax credit to provide an incentive for private equity to invest in this type of housing. The fact that we will have a central sewer to allow for more density will lower construction costs and should help fill the rental gap on the Shore. The part of the tax credit that I insisted should be part of the equation was that 30% of the tax credits be used in rural areas.

La Rive will also participate in the Waterways Management Fund. This amount was increased to $26 million over a two-year period. Specifically at the Coast, $5 million has been allocated to the new local fund for dredging projects. This will be shared between the Middle Peninsula and the East Coast.

The fiercest battle and the last thing included in the budget was the teacher salary adjustment. The adjustment, known as “COCA,” or the cost of concurrent adjustment, is automatic for Northern Virginia teachers who work in adjacent Maryland counties. Since we border Maryland, the argument should be the same. Accomack County was included in the Senate version but not in the House version. It was not until the last day the conference report was approved that Accomack and Northampton counties were included for one year. This means that every year I will lead this battle for our public school teachers.

The last big win for the East Coast was the amendment and subsequent wording that refunds the $6 million bond left in the seafood market in Melfa. Ownership of this property will be transferred to the Accomack County Economic Development Authority (EDA). This property was previously controlled by the Virginia Department of Agriculture, which was limited as to how it could be leased. Maintaining a vacant building was too expensive, so the Virginia Department of Agriculture agreed to let the EDA take possession. The EDA will not have the same rental or building use constraints.

In closing, I must say that the East Coast had a banner year. I want to thank Senator Lewis for his efforts to help contact Senate budget speakers and advocate for these worthwhile appropriations. As always, I invite you to contact me with any questions or concerns at my district office at (757) 824-3456, my Richmond office at (804) 698-1000 or by email at [email protected] gov.

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