Proposed Presidential Budget Cuts Harm Local Communities

The FY 2018 budget proposed by the Trump administration is threatening to completely cut $73 million from the EPA budget which will severly hinder the ability of states, localities, farmers, waterman, and other concerned parties to participate in the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup effort.  While this is an incrediblely diheartening prospect, there are a myriad of other proposed budget cuts which will really hurt our local rural communities in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula as well as communities across the Commonwealth. Below is a summary of the proposed cuts and the potential impact they will have on essential programs in our tidal communities along the Rappahannock River with specific details from the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

Direct and Indirect Impacts to the MP and NN Coastal Area

Economic Development Administration ($221 million):  This program funds the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS plan).  Also, provided funding for Economic Development Districts (EDD’s).  Provides significant funding for infrastructure and business development in rural areas. Both MPPDC and NNPDC have received funding from EDA. 

National Wildlife Refuge Fund ($480 million): Maintains the Fish and Wildlife Service's 563 wildlife refuges throughout the country.  Essex County has the Rappahannock National Wildlife Refuge

FHWA TIGER Grant Program has provided a combined $5.1 billion to 421 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and tribal communities (mostly urban, but rural communities are eligible). TIGER supports innovative projects, including multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects, which are difficult to fund through traditional federal programs.  Funding focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for communities, both urban and rural. 

US Army Corps of Engineers: $1 billion, a 16.3% cut.  Reduction in ACOE funding will only further complicate the dredging of rural coastal waterways.

FEMA state and local grant funding by $667 million, including the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program and Homeland Security Grant Program.  MP has received PDMA funding for many projects in the past related to Hazard Mitigation Plan Development.  These plans help local emergency staff better understand and plan for hazard events.  Plans also keep local governments consistent with Federal Law.

USDA Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Program, a reduction of $498 million.  Middlesex County anticipated/contemplated using USDA funding for the Deltaville Water Service Authority 

NFIP Flood Hazard Mapping’s Discretionary Appropriation.  Provides states and local entities with data about flood risks in their area.


Possible Federal Cuts:  Loss/Reduction of Programs and Services

Maritime Security and Protection:  Any cuts to the U.S. Coast Guard will, in all likelihood be felt at facilities such as Coast Guard Station Milford Haven and Coast Guard Station Yorktown.  Cuts to either of these two facilities will impact both the commercial and the recreational boating industry within the Chesapeake Bay, putting people’s lives and property at risk. DGIF maintains a database of 250,000 vessels registered in Virginia, any one of those vessels could require assistance from the US Coast Guard.   

11,546 Recreational and Commercial fishing licenses are tied to the Middle Peninsula alone, all most likely requiring use of the 16,976 Middle Peninsula vessel to access fishing grounds.   

  •  6,519 Saltwater Recreational Fishing Licenses within the Middle Peninsula (MPPDC-VMRC2016)
  •  5,045 Saltwater Commercial Fishing Licenses within the Middle Peninsula (MPPDC-VMRC2016)
  • 16,976 Middle Peninsula DGIF Boat Registrations 2016

Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission:  In 1968, PDCs were created under Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-4207.  The purpose of a PDC is …to encourage and facilitate local government cooperation and state-local cooperation in addressing on a regional basis problems of greater than local significance... to facilitate the recognition and analysis of regional opportunities and take account of regional influences in planning and implementing public policies and services

  • MPPDC’s annual operating budget is approximately $785,000.  Of that, ~2/3 is federally sourced funding ($518,000). 4 of 6 positions would most likely have to be eliminated if federal funds are cut or eliminated.  Federal funds are leveraged to address the most complicated public policy challenges faced by member rural local governments and to provide new and innovative approaches to address both Federal and State concerns, including mandates.  Reduction of federal funding provided by NOAA, EPA, FEMA, and HUD would result in the loss of direct constituent services and programs:  Septic repair programs (grants of $200,883 to 31 constituents over 5 years), Housing Assistance programs, Septic Pump Out programs (grants of $29,250 to 234 constituents over 5 years), public protection and planning programs, exploratory initiatives to address water quality/economic development/tax revenue and valuation/ conservation/working waterfronts preservation/ workforce housing and other interrelated issues.
  • MPPDC serves as the grant administrator for many CDBG programs.  Virginia receives ~$18 million to support programs that provide funding to eligible units of local government to redevelop blighted structures in support of the location of a new industry or expansion of an existing industry. These projects must result in job creation and private investment. 
  • MPPDC handles Federal requirements under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 to keep rural localities compliant with FEMA for disaster funds.  MPPDC also serves as a US Census repository and coordinator for US Census updates.   Reduction of technical assistance funding provided to the MPPDC under the Coastal Zone Management Act would all but eliminate the PDC’s environmental service center, recognized across the state for its innovation and solution oriented policy outcomes.

Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program: The Virginia Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program, established in 1986 through Executive Order, is a network of Virginia state agencies and local governments, that administers enforceable laws, regulations and policies that protect our coastal resources and foster sustainable development. Since 1986 Virginia has received over $61 million in federal Coastal Zone Management Act funding, matched by over $51 million in state and local funds, to implement its Coastal Zone Management Program. As a "maximum-funded state" Virginia receives about $2.5 million annually.  The Virginia CZM Program provides direct grants to implement the program’s core mission under the following:

  • Coastal Resource Protection
  • Coastal Resource Sustainable Use
  • Coastal Management Coordination
  • The loss or elimination of this funding will greatly impact the ability of the Commonwealth to create more vital and sustainable coastal communities and ecosystems. Financial assistance under Sections 306, 306A, 308, 309, and 310 of the CZMA provides Virginia with the means to maintain the Commonwealth's coastal zone management program and to carry out the Virginia CZM Program's goals of effective protection and careful development of Virginia's coastal areas.  These funding sources are direct grants to PDC’s, State Agencies and Universities for many purposes including: working waterfront construction and public access projects; coastal policy needs assessments, studies, legal analysis including proactive legislative research as well as coastal land conservation and protection.  CZMA funding makes the coastal governmental systems run better and more efficiently.  

Bay Aging, is the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck provider of programs and services for people of all ages. Formed in 1978, Bay Aging serves a predominately rural 2,600 square mile region that encompasses ten counties and two planning districts.  Bay Aging is extremely diverse in the programs it offers through three major divisions - Community Living, Bay Transit, and Bay Family Housing.  Each program relies significantly on federal funding to deliver constituent programs and services.  Proposed cuts to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and supported programs HUD 202, Housing for elderly, Section 8, HOME will eliminate and or reduce the following programs and services to constituents in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck:

  • Senior Apartments:  Bay Aging is currently providing service-enriched age-restricted (62 years old or older) affordable rental housing to 327 individuals within Congressman Wittman’s district.  Of these 327, 266 are disabled.  Bay Aging provided approximately 3,824 resident support service coordination to these 327 clients in fiscal year 2016.
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), the preferred term used instead of simply Section 8, is providing tenant-based affordable housing to 401 individuals in Congressman Wittman’s district.  Bay Aging currently has approximately 170 vouchers (fluctuates) corresponding to 170 households (single-family and multi-family homes).


Localities Directly Impacted by Cuts

Essex County has just received an Urgent Need Community Development Block Grant Project to assist with Tornado Recovery.  The total award was $875,000 for the rehabilitation/reconstruction of 9 housing units damaged by the tornado in February of 2016.  Not sure what will happen to project if HUD CDBG funds are entirely cut for FY-2018 (October, 2017) on.

  • Essex County Housing Rehab/Reconstruction – Estimated 23 Persons (9 Houses * 2.5 Persons per Household)

Town of White Stone (Lancaster County) is in the first year of a Multi-Year, 1.4 Million Dollar Comprehensive Community Development Block Grant Project that is rehabilitating/reconstructing 15 sub-standard housing units and is partially paying for the construction of a Public Wastewater Treatment Plant that will serve 175 connections

  • White Stone Housing Rehab/Reconstruction – Estimated 33 Persons (15 Houses * 2.21 Persons per Household)
  • White Stone Residential Sewer Connections – Estimated 283 Residents (129 Houses * 2.21 Persons per Household)
  • White Stone Commercial Sewer Connections – Estimated 220 Persons (46 Businesses * 5 Employess Per Business)
  • Total Impact (33 Persons + 283 Residents + 220 Business Owners/Employees = 536

Town of White Stone (Lancaster County) is making application by end of March, 2017 for a 1.3 Million Dollar Business District Revitalization Project.  This project will result in the renovation of 14 Business Facades, the demolition of three blighted structures, the construction of streetscape and pedestrian facility improvements, landscaping, gateway signage, and the creation of a revolving loan fund intended to create jobs for low to moderate income individuals

  • White Stone Business Façade Renovation – (14 Businesses * 5 Employees Per Business) = 70
  • White Stone Business Revolving Loan Fund – (7 Businesses * 1.5 New Employees Per Business) = 11 New Jobs
  • White Stone Pedestrian Facilities Improvements – (200 Pedestrians Daily)
  • Total Impact (70 Employees + 11 New Jobs + 200 Pedestrians = 281)

Village of Callao (Northumberland County, VA) is in the process of making application by end of March, 2017 for a Business District Revitalization Project

  • Callao Business Façade Renovation – (18 Businesses * 5 Employees Per Business) = 90
  • Callao Business Revolving Loan Fund – (6 Businesses * 1.5 New Employees Per Business) = 9 New Jobs
  • Callao Pedestrian Facilities Improvements – (150 Pedestrians Daily)
  • Total Impact (90 Employees + 9 New Jobs + 150 Pedestrians = 249)

Town of Warsaw (Richmond County, VA) is in the process of making application by end of March, 2017 for a Business District Revitalization Project. 

  • Warsaw Business Façade Renovation – (23 Businesses * 5 Employees Per Business) = 115
  • Warsaw Business Revolving Loan Fund – (10 Businesses * 1.5 New LMI Employees Per Business) = 15 New Jobs
  • Warsaw Pedestrian Facilities Improvements – (250 Pedestrians Daily)
  • Total Impact (115 Employees + 15 New Jobs + 250 Pedestrians = 380)

Chesapeake Bay (Basic Research- Applied Research)

Virginia Institute of Marine Science has delivered research, education and advisory services of unsurpassed quality to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation for more than 75 years. 

  • VIMS’s work supports and sustains: Commercial and recreational fishing within the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck.  11,546 commercial and recreational fishing licenses are held within the Middle Peninsula alone (MPPDC VMRC 2016).  More than half of VIMS’ annual operating budget of $48 million is derived each year from competitive grant and contract awards, mostly from Federal agencies. Significant reductions in appropriations to NOAA and EPA would diminish their ability to obtain sufficient support to engage in vital research and discovery that bolsters the economy, restores the environment, and protects human health.   VIMS would be forced to reduce staff almost immediately with an anticipated loss of 45 to 55 highly-trained technical staff members (totaling 13-16% of the VIMS workforce), many of whom live in rural parts of the District.  The rural coastal economy has no diversification to replace these lost jobs.
  • VIMS research is recognized for driving economic innovation, environmental protection and public safety under the following headings.  These programs provide the foundation for much of the rural coastal economy:

Oyster and Clam Aquaculture Virginia ranks 1st in U.S. hard clam production and 1st on East Coast for Oyster Production which directly employ hundreds across the Chesapeake Bay (VIMS Report# 2016-4) There are 3 private oyster hatcheries located in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck producing >50% of the oyster hatchery products sold (eyed larvae and seed) to growers in Virginia.  This production supports the 200+ full and part time workers in oyster aquaculture across Virginia.
Virginia’s Fishery Quotas are used to guide regional and federal management decisions that can profoundly impact Virginia’s quota for a variety of commercial and recreational finfish and shellfish. This supports 11,546 commercial and recreational fishing licenses across the Middle Peninsula. Include the rest of the 1st Congressional District and the numbers grow exponentially.  
Early Flood Warnings.  VIMS scientists have developed and tested the most sophisticated model in the U.S. for predicting storm-surge flooding. This model protects both residents and businesses within the Middle Peninsula.  4,308 Middle Peninsula homes with FEMA flood insurance policies are located within a flood hazard areas (2015 FEMA/MPPDC All Hazard Mitigation Plan).  In Mathews County 61% of all business establishments could be impacted by hurricane storm surge that would reduce quarterly revenues by at least 54%. In Middlesex County 7.8% of all business establishments could be impacted by hurricane storm surge that would reduce quarterly revenues by at least 6%. In Gloucester County 17% of all business establishments could impacted by hurricane storm surge that would reduce quarterly revenues by at least 8%. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2012

Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (National Program), a network of 29 reserves established by partnerships between NOAA and coastal states, was founded on the principle that healthy estuaries are at the foundation of national and local coastal community economic and social well-being. Cuts to the NERRS system will reduce or eliminate the following programs and services:

  • Leveraged Value of Federal NERRS Investment CBNERR typically leverages an additional 160% of the federal operations award in grants, contracts, additional state and private funds to support services and products of benefit to local communities and the Commonwealth.
  • Platforms for Actionable Science.  Protecting more than 1.3 million acres of coastal and estuarine habitats, the NERRS serve as living laboratories for on-site staff, visiting scientists and graduate students.
  • Sentinel and Reference Sites.  Through long-term strategic planning and investment, NERRS has built a network of coastal habitat sentinel and reference sites that can be used to assess the impacts of stressors on coastal ecosystems and evaluate and guide the success of restoration efforts
  • Water Quality Monitoring. The reserve system maintains more than 110 water quality stations and 30 weather stations.
  • Increasing Local Community Decision-Making Capacity. Decision makers from more than 2,500 cities and towns and 570 businesses benefit by reserve-based science and technical expertise nationwide each year.
  • Reaching the Next Generation. Reserves educate approximately 85,000 students and 3,200 teachers nationwide each year
  • Public Outreach.  CBNERR has developed signature family and community based programs to increase awareness, understanding and appreciation of natural resources
  • Public Access.  Reserves protect more than 1.3 million acres of coastal and estuarine lands around the country. States, communities, and people depend on these estuaries to protect them from flooding, keep water clean, sustain and create jobs, support fish and wildlife, and offer outdoor recreation.

Virginia Sea Grant (National Program) advances the ecological, economic, and social sustainability and resilience of Virginia’s coastal and ocean ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.   Cuts to VSG will reduce or eliminate the following programs and services:

  • Loss of public-private partnerships with engineering and architectural firms to spur innovation in resilience and flooding products, services and approaches, and build businesses and workforce from those innovations and in the emerging water and flooding management economy
  • Loss of mobilizing university capacity to partner with community clients to tackle intractable economic and community development issues in rural coastal communities
  • Decrease capacity for support of Virginia’s shellfish aquaculture industry; recreational and commercial boating industry.

Pamunkey Indian Tribe:  As the Pamunkey Tribe is now a Federally recognize Tribe, they are eligible for Federal financial aid programs available for community, economic and cultural needs.  Many of the Federal programs identified for cuts, the Pamunkey Tribe is an eligible applicant.  Currently, the Pamunkey Tribe is partnering with the MPPDC utilizing HUD  CDBG funding to explore how the Tribe could become a wireless internet service provider (WISP) to bring broadband services to rural coastal Virginia. A successfully broadband deployment model will require the use of Federal funds. Without this funding, rural coastal areas of the Commonwealth will continue to struggle with the provision of broadband service.