City’s $720 million biennial budget passes with increases for schools, cuts to arts

City’s $720 million biennial budget passes with increases for schools, cuts to arts

Highlights include expansions to the city’s Parks & Recreation programming, a one-time maintenance windfall for Richmond Public Schools, and four weeks of paid maternity leave for city employees.

Photo: Taber Andrew Bain

The City of Richmond Monday evening approved a $720 million biennial budget for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. City Council unanimously approved the amended budget, which was carried through many work sessions and public hearings.

The budget, a 3.4% increase in spending over the current fiscal year, includes a one-time $12.5 million funding package for Richmond Public Schools, meeting the department’s request of $303.3 million.

Public arts funding was cut by $3.15 million and shifted to infrastructure improvements in the form of sidewalks, paving, and parks projects. It should be noted, however, that no public arts projects have been proposed for the current or upcoming fiscal year.

“This is a values-based, fiscally responsible plan that invests in and improves upon our targeted priorities: core services, public safety, poverty mitigation and education,” Mayor Levar Stoney staid in a prepared statement following the passage. I thank Richmond City Council for their hard work and due diligence in meeting our shared responsibility to provide our residents with the strong financial management they expect and deserve, and for approving a plan that sets us on a sound fiscal path for continued growth and future success.”

The budget takes effect July 1st of this year. The following are a few of the highlights from the adopted budget:

  • $150 million for Richmond Public Schools construction
  • More than $1.2 million for after school programs and student support services at Richmond elementary and middle schools
  • 1 million to pave an additional 20 lane miles of neighborhood streets
  • More than $630,000 to extend hours of operation at six Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facility sites throughout the city
  • Free bus passes for every Richmond public high school student
  • More than a $250,000 increase in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • A reduction in the water rate for single family residential customers
  • A $733,000 increase for the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority
  • Four weeks of paid maternity leave for birth mothers and four weeks of paid parental bonding leave for the birth/adoption of a child (City of Richmond employees) and two weeks of leave to care for a sick parent
  • A one percent salary increase for non-sworn, non-constitutional officer employees effective January of 2019
  • Reinvestment of $12.5 million in Richmond Public Schools
  • $3.4 million to further the FY2018 step based, pay raises for both sworn police and firefighters
  • New Richmond Police Department positions to serve public housing communities

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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.