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Stoney: Proposed budget gives $16M increase to schools, won’t raise taxes

Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 17:17:36-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney laid out his fiscal year 2021 budget plan to City Council Friday afternoon at City Hall.

His proposal consists of an operating budget of $782.6 million, with “historic investments” in schools, affordable housing, and roads and sidewalks.

Stoney says his budget includes a $16-million-dollar funding increase to Richmond Public Schools which will fully fund the next phase of the Dreams for RPS Strategic Plan.

“We have a responsibility to address the most significant challenges our community faces,” said Stoney.

He says there are no tax increases under his budget, however, utility rates will increase an additional $5.56 on the average customer’s monthly bill.

Councilwoman Reva Trammell (8th District) gave her initial reaction to the proposal, saying she isn’t happy about the utility rate increases.

“It’s not fair. Especially, you know, the seniors who are struggling and with all the economic development we have in this city and all of that, why does he have to raise anything?” she asked.

Stoney says his budget is built on four pillars of One Richmond: youth and education; housing and neighborhoods; transportation; and economic development.

Among other items Stoney highlighted for council were pay increases for police and fire fighters, teachers, and general city employees.

“I am proud of the investments we make in this budget, which will improve opportunity for our children and families, deliver quality services and lift up our most vulnerable residents.”

City Council will get their first chance to discuss the budget as a body in two weeks. They have to approve their version by the end of May.

Click here to read the full budget proposal.

Other funding Stoney proposed included:

Housing

Increasing the city’s funding of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to $3.5 million; and

Increasing funding to the Eviction Diversion Program by more than 40 percent, to $686,000.

Roads and Transit

$32 million to pave roads and maintain and grow the sidewalk network;

15 million city dollars toward paving;

15 million state dollars, made available by the passage of House Bill 1541;

$2 million for both sidewalk improvements and new sidewalk installations; and

$7.9 million from the city to GRTC to maintain existing service levels, in addition to the $25 million to support regional transit initiatives made possibly by HB 1541, which constitutes the first time the region as a whole has committed to funding transit.

City Services

Support six new sidewalk maintenance and installation teams, projected to decrease the backlog for concrete sidewalks by 80% and brick sidewalks by nearly 70%;

Double the current number of urban forestry teams to six, projected to improve service completion time by 40%;

Fund salary increases and career development for police officer and firefighters; and

Fund a two percent salary increase for general employees.

Equity-Focused Initiatives

$150,000 to create a Richmond Doula Fund, to address racial disparities in maternal and child health;

$350,000 to supplement the salaries of Richmond’s public defenders, the first of a three-part, three-year commitment to support pay parity with Commonwealth’s Attorneys;

$700,000 to enable the Department of Parks and Recreation Workforce Development Program to train more than 50 returning citizens with the ultimate goal of full-time employment; and

$250,000 for the History and Culture Commission, to be used for implementing recommendations for everything from adding monuments or new street signs, to community engagement and research of historical and cultural assets.