Mayor Stoney unveils FY2021 budget, prioritizes schools, roads and city services
Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney today unveiled his administration’s proposed FY2021 budget, a values-based plan consisting of an operating budget of $782.6 million-dollars and an $85 million Capital Improvement Plan. It makes historic investments in schools, roads and affordable housing, along with targeted investments in city departments aimed at improving response time for services, from tree trimming to sidewalk maintenance.
It also includes investments in and increased funding for efforts that lift up the most vulnerable in our community, like eviction diversion, workforce development, child and maternal health and pay parity for public defenders.
In his address, the mayor noted his budget is built on the four pillars of One Richmond: youth and education; housing and neighborhoods; transportation; and economic development.
“We have a responsibility to address the most significant challenges our community faces,” said Mayor Stoney. “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.”
Here’s a brief overview of the FY 2021 budget highlights:
The proposed budget increases the city’s support to Richmond Public Schools (RPS) by $16 million. Combined with the 20-million-dollar increase in state education funding, the allocation will fund the next phase of the Dreams for RPS Strategic Plan.
This investment is consistent with the mayor’s commitment to support RPS at no less than the same proportion of real estate tax revenue allocated to RPS in the FY2020 budget.
The mayor also noted that with the city’s FY2020 $18 million allocation to RPS, the Richmond School Board, Superintendent Jason Kamras and his team were able to provide a three percent raise to teachers, hire 10 additional art, music and foreign language teachers, add more social workers and nurses, and purchase 10 new school buses, among other investments.
Over the past three years, the Stoney administration has increased funding for RPS by over $40 million.
The proposed budget centers housing, especially affordable housing, as a key city priority by:
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.
Since its launch in October 2019, the Eviction Diversion Program has helped 122 families avoid eviction.
In order to address the challenges that those living with homelessness face, the mayor plans to submit a budget amendment to transfer $2.1 million in projected surplus funding from FY2020 to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The funding will support additional investments in eviction prevention, as recommended by the Eviction Task Force, as well as enhance the city’s capacity to invest in affordable housing opportunities and community partners’ capacity to provide homeless services.
Alongside the budget amendment, the administration will propose a legislative package that would include zoning changes, which would allow community partners to more quickly, effectively and permanently address the needs of the homeless community.
Roads and Transit
The proposed budget includes:
$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.
The new budget prioritizes key city services based on demonstrated resident need. It will:
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 remains a priority of the Stoney administration, evidenced through the following investments:
$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.
The proposed budget does not impose any new taxes on Richmond’s residents. It does include modest increases in utility rates that are expected to result in an additional $5.56 on the average customer’s monthly bill.
“After three years, I know the only way we will get to One Richmond is by working together,” said Mayor Stoney. “So it is my hope that this year’s budget process will be a time where the leaders of this city, and the communities we all serve, can come to consensus around our shared priorities and say ‘yes,’ to growing opportunity for ALL our residents.”
To read the full remarks, click here. To view the presentation, click here.