VCU has an outstanding relationship with local governments. Efforts over the past year have included the following:
Children’s Mental Health Resource Center
The Office assisted the VCU Department of Psychiatry in securing funding from the City of Richmond to help with the development of the Children’s Mental Health Resource Center. The Richmond City Council approved a total of $60,000. The Center is now fully-funded and will become one of five pilot programs in the state. Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC) will provide administrative oversight.
Richmond Slave Trail Commission
Working on multiple fronts, Government Relations staff participated in the successful efforts with local officials regarding a VCU parking lot located at 15th and East Broad streets near the MCV campus. The property is believed to have been the site of a burial ground, which was memorialized by the Richmond Slave Trail Commission. A considerable amount of time was dedicated to securing legislative authorization and budget recommendations to accomplish this task. The Governor proposed and the General Assembly approved $3.3 million to reimburse VCU for the property.
Richmond City Jail Payments
VCU Health System provides health care services for the Richmond City Jail as well as other local and regional jail facilities. Over the past 18 months, the Richmond City Jail has declined payment or rescinded payment for our services – an amount approaching $1 million, depending on calculations of charges versus cost. Government Relations staff have held a number of meetings with local and state government officials, City Jail staff and representatives from the Sheriffs’ Association. The Office remains involved in this matter as it may require legislative resolution in the 2012 General Assembly session.
Noise Ordinance Task Force
Local government noise ordinances were struck down over a year ago by the Virginia Supreme Court. Richmond City Council members have convened a task force with a VCU Government Relations representative to craft a new ordinance. The final ordinance is expected to address unwarranted noise while at the same time preserving VCU’s ability to host university-related events that may generate noise.
Special Parking Fund Committee
In 2010, Richmond City Council adopted enhanced fees for parking violations in the Fan District. Government Relations has represented the university on a Special Parking Fund Committee which will make recommendations on how to spend the additional revenue for safety patrols, traffic and pedestrian improvement projects. City staff estimates the fund will have nearly $200,000 annually.
Real Property Issues
Office staff, along with representatives from Finance and Administration and other members of the university community have been meeting with City officials on issues involving the purchase of land to replace the parking lot C, the possible location of a children’s hospital on VCU property and the future of the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.
Regular Meetings with City Council Members
Dr. Rao and staff held regular meetings with City Council members throughout the year on matters of mutual interest. Several Council members were interested in discussing specific matters, including Monroe Park, VCU football and minority contractors working on construction projects. In addition, staff facilitated a number of activities and appearances for City officials associated with the NCAA Final Four Championship.