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Mayor Stoney proposes raising city’s meals tax to create funding for new schools, repairs to existing facilities

The mayor’s office estimates raising the tax on prepared meals by 1.5% to a total of 7.5% would produce $9.1 million in funding per year and allow the city to raise its debt capacity to fund new schools and facility repairs without impacting funding of core city services.

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Just a day before Mayor Levar Stoney is set to give his annual State of the City address last night, he submitted a proposal to hike the city’s meals tax by another 1.5%, bringing the city’s tax on prepared meals to a total of 7.5%.

A presentation by the City’s financial advisors, Davenport & Company, at the December 11th Education Compact meeting indicated the city has approximately $66 million in debt capacity through fiscal year 2023 for City and Schools projects. Stoney says a new funding source for schools facilities is needed in order to increase debt capacity while not negatively impacting core city services and operations.

A comprehensive report released last year estimated it will cost $224 million to construct five new schools and make adequate and necessary repairs to existing facilities.

The city estimates the increase would generate an initial $9.1 million in new funding per year, which would allow the city to expand the current debt capacity and provide $150 million dollars in new capital funding over the next five years in a fund dedicated to Richmond Public Schools. The mayor made it clear these funds would placed in a special reserve, only available to fund school facilities.

The reassurances come after the city’s meal tax was hiked 1% to the current rate of 6% in 2003 to fund renovations to what became the Dominion Energy Center downtown. At the time, officials promised the increased rate would be phased out. That never happened, and the extra revenue was eventually reallocated to pad the city’s general fund.

“For the last year, I’ve said that when it comes to meeting the critical needs of school facilities, the only option that’s off the table is doing nothing,” Mayor Stoney said in a statement. “It’s time for us to invest boldly in our most important resources–our children. We owe it to the children of our city to act.”

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Community

Richmond Chess Club Hosting Kid’s Chess this Saturday

A great chance to learn about or get better at chess.

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The Richmond Chess Club meets throughout the city every week for games. Often at breweries and bars so naturally it’s usually adults. This weekend their mixing it up and hoping to attract a younger set.

From Facebook

Excited to announce our first kid’s club meetup!

We’ll be at the Richmond Public Library (101 East Franklin) on Saturday at 1:00-5:00.

It will be a workshop environment with some of our coaches helping out teaching basic principles and ideas. And of course there will be plenty of time for casual games between students.

Open for kids (and parents) of all ages and it’s completely free. Masks required. Let us know if you can make it! We plan to do this every other Saturday going forward.

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Downtown

Senate panel shoots down bill that would make mask and vaccine mandates illegal

Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted down GOP legislation Monday that would have classified mask mandates and vaccine requirements as illegal discrimination.

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Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted down GOP legislation Monday that would have classified mask mandates and vaccine requirements as illegal discrimination.

The measures, proposed by Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, drew unanimous support from Republicans on the Senate’s General Laws Committee.

“It’s time to give people the freedom to breathe and the freedom of choice,” Chase told the panel.

Her bills would have prevented schools, businesses and other public places from requiring people to wear masks or disclose their vaccine status.

Witnesses who spoke in support of the legislation said they opposed masks for a variety of reasons. One mother told lawmakers that masks gave her child nightmares. One man said that masks gave him seizures. A third witness said masks made her dizzy.

“We are being discriminated against,” said Doris Knicks, who spoke to the panel remotely.

On vaccines, Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, a practicing OBGYN, called it “egregious and a complete violation of an individual’s right to privacy” for businesses like restaurants to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We shouldn’t be using this as a litmus test for people to be able to get into stores,” she said.

Democrats on the panel noted vaccine requirements are not unique to COVID-19 and said businesses should have the authority to take steps to keep their employees safe.

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Community

Venture Richmond Offering Up 10k Broad Street Tenant Recruitment Grants

Venture Richmond was awarded a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development to help recruit ten new tenants to Broad Street in Downtown Richmond. Each new tenant will get a $10,000 grant for moving in and opening by May 15, 2022.

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From Venture Richmond

Venture Richmond was awarded a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development to help recruit ten new tenants to Broad Street in Downtown Richmond. Each new tenant will get a $10,000 grant for moving in and opening by May 15, 2022. Venture Richmond is partnering with the Metropolitan Business League (MBL) to help recruit existing small, women, and minority (SWaM) and immigrant-owned businesses to ­fill street-level vacancies in the area.

​The new businesses will join many galleries, retailers, restaurants, and small businesses who already call Broad Street home, as well as businesses that attract thousands of out of town visitors annually like Quirk Hotel, Richmond Marriott, the Hilton Hotel, and the Convention Center. Gather, co-working space, has a location in the area. A popular neighborhood happening is RVA First Fridays Artwalk which is a monthly celebration of the arts and galleries along and around Broad St. This section of Broad Street is also a part of Richmond’s Arts District and adjacent to Jackson Ward, near the VCU Monroe Park Campus and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) to the west and City and State offices and VCU Health to the east.

THE CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:

  • Eligible once the business has moved into the space and opened for business by May 15, 2022.
  • Veri­fied 1-year minimum lease
  • Lease street-level space on Broad Street between Belvidere and 5th streets
  • New business to Downtown, not the relocation of an existing business in the General District/BID.
  • Existing businesses in the General District, who want to open an additional location on Broad Street.
  • Existing businesses located outside of the General District, who want to open another location/outpost on Broad Street.
  • Types of qualifying businesses include retailers, restaurants, makers, entrepreneurs, startups, and other creative businesses.
  • One $10,000 reimbursement grant per storefront, if a group of small businesses wanted to share space there would only be one grant available for the group.
  • Only eligible once
  • Availability based on ­first come fi­rst served

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR ASSISTANCE, CONTACT:

Micah White

Business Development Manager

The MBL

804-356-9298

[email protected]

Lucy Meade

Director Economic Development & Community Relations

Venture Richmond, Inc.

804-248-8372

[email protected]

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