Around the Commonwealth: Local Unions and Housing Help

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Some interesting recent actions by local governments:

Local employee unions–Many on this blog predicted that local government bodies, especially those in “progressive” urban areas would not be able to resist attempts by local employee unions to enter into collective bargaining. The City of Norfolk has demonstrated that it can and will resist. As reported by The Virginian Pilot, the Norfolk City Council this week voted 5-3 against a request by the Police Benevolent Association to enter into collective bargaining. The city council did create four “employee committees” that are to meet with the city manager. Input from those committees will be factored into council’s budget decisions.

Helping employees buy a house–Henrico County will pay up to $25,000 for a down payment on a house for qualified county or school employees. The county has designated $2 million for this initiative. Therefore, at least 80 employees will be able to benefit.

To benefit fully from this offer, the employee must work five years for the county. According to the county administrator, the county views this as a tool to retain employees.

As reported by the Henrico Citizen, the program is available to first-time home buyers who have worked for the county or school system for at least year on a full-time basis.  The home to be purchased must be located in Henrico County and cost no more than $425,ooo. Furthermore, eligibility for the program is limited to employees who live in a household with income not exceeding $98,400 for two or fewer persons or $114,900 for three or more persons. The down payment provided by the county will be treated as an “interest-free, forgivable loan, and 1/60th of the balance will be forgiven each month that the employee lives in the house and remains employed by Henrico. If the employee stops working for the county or sells the house before the five-year window has ended, he or she will be required to repay the remaining balance.”