Mayor’s budget features tourism and baseball

Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 02, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-02 20:32:27-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones unveiled his multimillion dollar budget proposal Friday morning.

As part of the proposed budget, the mayor released details on how he plans to spend the $62 million from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA).  Money the city received from the RMA after satisfying the loan it made more than 40 years ago to create the downtown expressway system.

Part of that money would be used to pay off debt and allow the city to invest millions in major renovations to places like the Landmark Theatre and Shockoe Bottom.

Additionally, the mayor wants to transform the old train shed near Main Street Station into a multi-modal transportation hub.

"We got to find money. And so, the tourism dollars are great and that's one of our assets,” said Jones. "The counties can build new stuff but you can't build character.”

The city also hopes to squirrel away $12.5 million for a brand new ballpark on the Diamond through debt savings from loan pay offs.

"We just want to be ready, so that when our time comes we'll have the money identified," said Jones. "If we wait until next year or the year after, we wouldn't have it."

And after years of waiting for some type of commitment, the news is just want the Flying Squirrels wanted to hear.

"It's obviously a very big moment, a very big step and we're really appreciative of that from the Mayor and everyone in the city.  But we still have work to be done and issue to iron out,” said Todd “Parney” Parnell.

Rick LoPresti, the owner of Piccola’s think Jones' plans to invest in tourism are a good decision.

LoPresti said productions like "The Lion King" at Richmond's Landmark Theater ultimately increase tourism and bring more money to the city.

The increased tourist funding would be good news since the city is facing a $16 million shortfall this budget cycle.

However, Jones said that there will be no tax increases, layoffs, furloughs or any reductions of core services because of that shortage.

Stay with CBS 6 News and for the latest updates on the mayor's budget -- and city council developments.