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Mayor Stoney unveils $800 million plan to fully fund Richmond school facilities

Posted at 12:21 PM, Dec 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-20 17:07:58-05

RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has unveiled a plan that he says will fully fund the Richmond Public Schools $800 million capital plan over the next 20 years.

The School Capital Funding Plan would provide $150 million in the first five years, $200 million in the following five years, $212.2 million in the next five years, and $237.8 million in the following five years after that, totaling $800 million for school capital investments over 20 years.

Stoney says the school funding plan does not rely on any real estate tax increase and will include the $150 million generated earlier this year when council approved a 1.5% meals tax hike to fund the renovation and replacement of crumbling Richmond school facilities.

“Starting with our $150 million investment in school facilities earlier this year, I’m proud that we were able to identify a path to fund the remaining capital plan for RPS, so we can get as many kids as possible into 21st Century schools as soon as possible,” said Mayor Stoney.

The mayor’s school funding plan:

  • Includes $150 million of school capital investment funding based on the recently enacted 1.5% meals tax that is dedicated to Schools;
  • Allows for full compliance with all of the city’s existing Debt Policy Guidelines;
  • Provides significant capital funding for general non-school projects over the same 20-year time frame;
  • Relies on 2% growth in the city’s debt service budget commencing in FY 2024, a rate that is below that of historic inflation and is a fraction of the city’s recent growth in taxable real estate assessed valuation.

The plan is the city’s response to the requirements of a 2017 voter-approved charter change referendum passed by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year, which set a December 31 deadline for the administration to either present a school facilities plan that does not raise taxes or declare that it was not achievable.

“While education is our number one priority, this plan does not abandon our neighborhoods and streets,” the mayor continued. “There remains sufficient debt capacity to tackle other infrastructure needs and other capital improvements over the next 20 years.”

Stoney also noted that this plan doesn’t rely on any funding from his newly proposed Navy Hill Development which he estimates would pump $600 million into the schools over 30 years. A group of activists recently spoke out in opposition to that proposal.

The Stoney administration has submitted the funding plan to Richmond City Council. It is expected to be introduced to council on January 14.

For more details, the city’s financial advisors, Davenport & Company, has provided an analysis for the plan. Details are also outlined in a memorandum by the Department of Planning and Budget.

Stay with CBS 6 for the latest on this developing story.