Each year, Montgomery County hosts a dinner with our state legislators to discuss the upcoming session in Richmond. Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, Montgomery County School Board, Constitutional Officers and Social Services were all represented. This meeting is one of the many ways the various localities cooperate and I want to thank Montgomery County for being such fine hosts.

Blacksburg has drafted a legislative agenda. There are several points in that agenda but last night we focused on two that are the most important to the town this year. The first dealt with money the state has traditionally sent to the local communities to support our local police. It is referred to as “599” money based on the bill number that established the expenditure but in reality it is police support money. We made our traditional plea that as the legislature goes through this very tough budget, please do everything to leave this money in place and fully funded.

The second point on our legislative agenda that we discussed dealt with a bill that is supported by the Virginia Municipal League that establishes landlord liability for excessive tenant behavior. This bill will allow localities to pass an ordinance that will give the locality the ability to bring a landlord to court, through civil action, if there are numerous violations at their property such as noise, drunk in public, etc. In order to bring the landlord to court, there would have to be three violations by tenants and the burden of proof is on the locality.

Our hope is that this bill, if passed, will give responsible owners an extra tool in regulating what goes on at their property and will allow the town an avenue to work with owners who may not have been aware of the situation in rental properties that they own. The Virginia Municipal League has worked with Apartment Owners, Realtors and others across the state in drafting this legislation.

The main impression we all took away last night was the state does not have money and will even have less money next year. The situation will not improve anytime soon. As a consequence, all local governments will face some pretty tough times and will have to be very careful when dealing with budget issues.

Our thanks to Senator John Edwards and Ralph Smith and Delegate Jim Shuler and Dave Nutter for spending and evening with us last night.