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COVID-19 impacts Richmond raises, city programs, and spending

Posted at 8:55 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 08:30:14-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The budget for the City of Richmond passed Monday night by Richmond City Council felt the impact of COVID-19.

Gone were two-percent raises for city employees, an increase in base pay for police recruits, and a Doula program run through the Richmond City Health District, among other things.

COVID-19 forced the cuts by slashing the city’s general fund revenue projection by $38.5 million ($782.6M to $744.1M), according to city officials.

“This budget is not the budget we first proposed, nor is it the budget we wanted, but it’s the budget we have to live with in light of these most difficult and challenging times,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said. “I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to the members of City Council and their staff for all their hard work, cooperation and collaboration with my team, as well as for their commitment, going forward, to meeting the needs of our residents and advance the city’s priorities in a manner that is fiscally prudent and equitable.”

The Mayor’s Office released the following information about the FY21 budget:

The revised FY21 budget will still allocate more to RPS than the city did in FY20, following council-approved guidance to dedicate a certain percentage of real estate tax revenue to schools. A total of $181M will now go to RPS, compared to roughly $175M in FY20.

The City of Richmond also remains dedicated to supporting nonprofit partners who meet the needs of the Richmond community. Knowing that many non-profit partners are facing challenges due to COVID-19, the mayor worked to ensure that the majority of partners’ budgets did not receive a cut from their FY20 allocations through the city’s non-departmental budget.

The following items funded in the original FY21 budget have been eliminated:

  • 2 percent salary increase for employees;
  • Step increases for public safety personnel and base salary increases for public safety recruits;
  • Nearly $9.4M in currently funded full-time and part-time employee positions. Which includes the elimination of 12 proposed new positions throughout the administration, including in Citizen Service and Response, Parks and Recreation, Human Services, and the City Attorney’s office, among others;
  • Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities workforce development program for returning citizens;
  • Doula program run through the Richmond City Health District;
  • New funding for the History and Culture Commission operating budget; and
  • Several non-departmental allocations to nonprofits that did not receive funds in FY20.

The following items saw an increase in the original FY21 proposed budget but have now been brought to FY20 funding levels:

  • The Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which was slated to receive $3.5M but will now receive $2.9M;
  • The Eviction Diversion Program, which was slated for a $201k increase but will now receive $485k; and
  • Many non-departmental allocations to nonprofits that received funds in FY20.