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Mayor Levar Stoney releases proposed FY22 city budget

Despite municipal revenues projected to be nearly $18.5 million less than revenues in last year’s FY21 proposed budget, the $770.3 million proposal is balanced, with expenses in line with current revenue projections.

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On Friday, Mayor Levar M. Stoney and administration leadership presented the proposed FY22 budget to Richmond City Council. Despite municipal revenues projected to be nearly $18.5 million less than revenues in last year’s FY21 proposed budget (when excluding one-time funding sources from both fiscal years), the $770.3 million proposal is balanced, with expenses in line with current revenue projections.

“The difficult decisions we had to make reflect the extraordinarily challenging economic times we’re in, and while this budget is limited in its ability to provide for new programming, it does protect the work we’ve started to make our city more equitable,” said Mayor Stoney. “Facing the need to do more with significantly less challenged us to look even more closely at how we can allocate the resources we have to produce better results for Richmonders.”

With proposed utility rate increases, the average customer will see a $5.27 increase in their monthly utility bill. This increase in utility rates will fund more than $3 million in infrastructure improvements to address flooding in key areas, particularly Southside.

However, the budget as proposed contains no increases in real estate, personal property or other general taxes.

The proposed Operating Budget and FY22-26 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) include the following key investments (the list is not exhaustive):

Transit, Mobility and Transportation

$8 million to the Greater Richmond Transit Company;

$33.5 million in investments in sidewalk maintenance and construction, paving, new bike lanes and bridge maintenance, and other transportation-related improvements in addition to an anticipated $16.7 million from the Central Virginia Transportation Authority;

$2.5 million specifically for new sidewalk construction (up from $900,000 in FY21) as well as an increase in the number of sidewalk crews in the Department of Public Works;

Housing Affordability and Security

$2.9 million to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (level-funding from last year);

$485,000 to the Eviction Diversion Program (level-funding from last year);

Equity and Community Safety

$1.1 million in operational funding to the Department of Emergency Communications to establish the Marcus Alert (as supported by community advocates and members of the Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety);

$28 million for the Enslaved African Heritage Campus in the FY22-26 CIP;

Funding for a Community Safety Coordinator, the city’s point person for implementing a gun-violence prevention framework, coordinating services for Richmonders experiencing homelessness and working with residents to address other community safety concerns;

Creation of the Office of Engagement under the Department of Citizen Service and Response;

Creation of the Office of Equity and Inclusion under the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services;

Children and Families

$187 million to Richmond Public Schools, fully funding the school system’s operational funding request (constitutes a $6.4 million increase when excluding RPS’ use of one-time funding in FY21);

$200 million for school modernization in FY24, including funding for a new George Wythe High School;

Good Governance

Full funding, in the FY22-26 CIP, to complete the renovation and expansion of the Southside Community Services Center;

A two-step salary increase for sworn police officers and firefighters;

An hourly wage increase for city employees making $12.07/hour to $13/hour; and

Nearly $6 million in the general fund to implement the recommendations of the Gallagher Class and Compensation Study, which found that many city employees make significantly less than their mid-range salaries compared to market rates.

In favor of implementing the recommendations of the Gallagher Class and Compensation Study, Mayor Stoney appealed to service quality and consistency: “The fact is, we will not achieve service improvement goals if we do not stabilize the attrition rate in the city workforce or if we cannot competitively recruit.”

He also shared that the creation of a pandemic-era budget resulted in the adoption of multiple municipal best practices, including increasing the transparency and accountability of the budgeting process. In the budget document, the Richmond City Council will be able to view a list of frozen and funded positions per department, tying the funded positions to specific city needs and functions. In order to balance the budget, the administration has decided to freeze an additional 150 positions, compared to last year’s budget.

The Mayor closed on a positive note, stating, “Whether times are lean or prosperous, I want you to know that I will continue to be bold and embrace the challenges before us.”

“We will take the actions required to remove barriers to opportunity and ensure our city can recover the right way.”

Interested parties will be able to learn more about the budget, read the mayor’s remarks and watch the presentation at www.rva.gov/budgethub.

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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

Historic Slave Trail at Ancarrow’s Landing Closed for Bridge Work

The closure is to work on bridges.

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From RVA Trail Report

The Historic Slave Trail at Ancarrow’s Landing will be temporarily closed while the Trail Crew rebuilds the three worn bridges along the river. Please follow the detour signs during this time.

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Community

Pipeline Update Work Continues

The hope is that work will finish up at the end of this month. Work is taking longer than expected.

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From RVAH20:

Our work continues! It’s progressing! And it’s slower than we thought it was going to be.

Our team is doing detailed, meticulous work with an abundance of care, and doing it right! They’ve also faced some less-than-ideal weather and river levels that were too high.

Our crew is essentially papier-mâché-ing a 43.13″ diameter elevated pipe located in the James River (one of our more tricky, but also more beautiful, work locations) with layers on layers of mesh and more mesh and different sized mesh and epoxy. Before all that, our crews clean each pipe segment with acetone wipes to allow for excellent adherence.

Most importantly, we are SO sorry for the delayed repair process at Pipeline–we know no one likes an elongated trail closure, but we can’t rush this important work.

We appreciate your patience as we complete these repairs to protect the James River and your health and safety when you visit this spot so many of us favor!
The latest we heard was a hope that repairs would be complete by the end of this month. We will keep you updated as we move toward that end-of-October target!
Following the completion of the repairs, our team will once again CCTV (closed-circuit television) the pipe to get an internal look. Only after we check our work and give it the green light will the trail and beaches alongside it be reopened. Until then, Pipeline trail and its adjacent beaches are closed from Brown’s Island (under the 9th Street bridge) to the downstream, eastern end of the trail behind Virginia Street and Vistas On The James.
And, finally, an important reminder: all wastewater flows have been diverted upstream at Tredegar, so any flow you may see leaking at Pipeline currently is river water that’s seeping in from Haxall Canal, groundwater, and/or stormwater from rainfall.

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Downtown

Carmela’s Turning Off Pizza Ovens for Good

Carmela has been serving up pizza in Shockoe Bottom for the past three years.

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Posted to Facebook yesterday:

To our dearest customers, after careful consideration, we have decided to close our doors. We like to express our deepest gratitude to you all for your support and love for Carmela’s pizza over the past 3 years!
We like to thank our whole Carmela’s team, past and present. We’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished together and couldn’t have done it without your talent and great effort of everyone involved!!
We’re just incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have opened such a beautiful pizzeria. This may not be a goodbye forever, but for now, it’s the right choice for our family.
Thank you again for the sweet memories and for allowing us to serve you RVALots of love,
Victor & Melinda
Carmela’s
Carmela’s was located on 3 N 17th Street.

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