City proposes cutting call center budget to boost mayor’s security detail

Posted at 6:05 AM, May 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-26 11:33:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Richmond City Council is trying to decide where city dollars should be spent and whether taxpayers should have to foot the bill for Mayor Dwight Jones' $400,000 three-man security detail.

The debate is playing out not just in the court of public opinion, but among city leaders as well.

"Why does he need $400,000 for security in Richmond, Virginia?" Councilwoman Reva Trammell asked.  "What kind of message are we sending out?"

Earlier this month, Trammell was successful in getting the votes to cut the mayor's security detail by $100,000, but she found out a revision was made to the budget.

"I said this is back room shenanigans," Trammell said. "This was not fair to me and to the citizens of Richmond."

Trammell said Council President Charles Samuel put a budget amendment in place that would cut $100,000 from the city's 311 call center and add it back to the mayor's security detail.

"They don't need to lose their jobs. We need them, everybody needs their job,” Trammell said. "If you do this to them, who else are you going to do it to?"

"The funding is proposed to remain at the same reduced level as last year ($400,000)," the mayor's press secretary, Tammy Hawley, told CBS 6. "The mayor's mandated reduction in this service led to a 59% reduction in costs for this operation since he took office."

Regardless, Trammell said she isn't giving up without a fight.

Mayor Jones significantly reduced the security budget from the previous administration in which the budget was over $800,000 a year.

City council members will vote on the city’s bi-annual budget Tuesday that will include the $400,000 for the mayor’s security detail. The city council meeting will be held at City Hall at 6 p.m.