Lodging Tax Rates in Virginia Cities

The Lodging Tax, sometimes referred to as “Transient Occupancy” Tax, is one of the popular revenue levers for cities across Virginia. Since debate over changing this tax on hotels (and other short term lodging) usually contains information on comparable cities, just how do the largest cities in Virginia compare to one another? We’ve compiled, with[…]

An Open Letter to City Council and the Police Civilian Review Board

Over the past three years, our Charlottesville-based non-profit, Smart Cville, has partnered with staff across numerous local municipalities and organizations to increase and improve the use of data in local decision making, community improvement, and civic innovation.  Personally, I’ve also sat on the City’s Open Data Advisory Group and JAUNT, one of the most data-driven[…]

What Does a Localized Blue Wave Tell Us About 2019 Local Elections?

The hope of a “blue wave” in VA-05 tantalized many locals this past fall.  For those on the ground on Charlottesville and Albemarle, it seemed as if Leslie Cockburn had real momentum and could topple Republican Denver Riggleman despite the heavily gerrymandered district.  That did not happen.  However, the results indicate that the local “pulse”[…]

Revitalizing Democracy: Is it Time to Rethink Local Boards and Commissions?

Learn more about Charlottesville Boards and Commissions More than hundred years ago, Progressive Era reformers, among the ranks of whom included former President Theodore Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Mary Munford, sought to end corruption and make local governments more democratic and efficient through restructuring political institutions.  As part of the reforms, cities[…]

City Council and Mayor Salaries in Virginia

Tonight the Charlottesville City Council will take up compensation for members of its own body.  The prepared memo (PDF, p. 92) on this topic comes from City Attorney Craig Brown.  While the memo includes information on the relevant state code, it does not offer any sort of context for council salaries, including salaries from similar[…]

City of Charlottesville Budget Visualization Enhancements

We’re pleased to announce the phase two release of the Charlottesville Budget visualization tool.  This version includes important new features including integrating proposed versus actual budget numbers, bar chart views, user control panel, advanced admin panel controls, and social media integration (see examples below).  This release builds upon our initial development of the tool from[…]

Technology Should Support Community Understanding of Council Actions

Many in our community felt strongly about last night’s Charlottesville city council agenda.  Those who could not attend the meeting or watch it (the video live stream was down), looked to professional journalists on Twitter to follow along.  Thankfully, local media had at least three members present Chris Suarez (Daily Progress), Henry Graff (NBC 29),[…]

Announcing City of Charlottesville Budget Visualization Update

In conjunction with the City of Charlottesville, Smart Cville has developed a new feature for the city budget visualization. Each quarter the city releases updates on its revenues and expenditures.  This allows different constituencies to track quarterly progress in each area.  Previously, the city would publish this data within a PDF document.  Now, citizens will[…]

Mapping the 5th District Race in Virginia (Dittmar v. Garrett)

Yesterday we mapped results of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District race from Tuesday.  The race pitted Jane Dittmar (Democrat) against Tom Garrett (Republican).  Democrats were hopeful that Dittmar could put this seat in play but the race ended up as a Garrett landslide (58%-42%).  The 5th congressional district is crafted to favor Republicans (Romney won it[…]

Charlottesville Neighborhood Association Leaders Survey

Thank you for reading our inaugural Tech in the Neighborhood Survey.  At Smart Cville, we focus on leveraging technology to solve public problems.  We’re obsessively interested in how both governments and citizens use technology to make cities better.  This fall, to learn more about how technology is being used in the City of Charlottesville, we[…]