$2.9B budget plan for Richmond includes tax payment upgrades, call center revamp

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Mayor Levar Stoney greets attendees on his way to the podium to present the budget plan to City Council on Wednesday. (Screenshot)

With annual growth projections stabilizing in the wake of the pandemic, the City of Richmond is mulling a proposed fiscal year budget that would provide more funding for schools and operations while also supporting certain projects and city initiatives that have increased in priority in recent months.

Mayor Levar Stoney presented the nearly $2.9 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2025 to the City Council on Wednesday. The spending plan would hold the line on current tax rates while increasing the general fund budget to just over $1 billion, a 5.5% increase over the current general fund, fueled in part by a projected 7% increase in annual revenue.

The budget maintains the city’s real estate tax rate of $1.20 per $100 of assessed value, which has remained unchanged since 2008. While the tax rate has held steady, Stoney noted that in his eight years as mayor, general fund revenue has grown by nearly 40% since FY17, reflecting the city’s growth in that time.

The budget would provide a 4% salary increase for all city employees, with higher increases for police officers, firefighters and emergency services staff. Further adjustments would increase pay for positions paid below the market rate identified in a recent compensation study, and the city’s minimum wage would stand at $20 an hour, which Stoney described as among the highest in the state.

Funding for Richmond Public Schools would increase by $15.8 million to $237.3 million, a 7% increase over the city’s contribution this fiscal year. Stoney said the increase would help cover teacher pay negotiated in collective bargaining discussions between RPS and the Richmond Education Association. The school system’s FY25 spending plan totals $529 million.

The city’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan would total $460.2 million, with $200 million allocated for school construction projects in FY29. Stoney said RPS has $69 million available now for such projects.

Other big-ticket items in the city budget include $21 million for road and pedestrian improvements; $14 million for deferred capital maintenance; $13 million for the Shockoe Project; and $10 million each for city fleet replacements and for Brown’s Island improvements with Venture Richmond, which has committed $5 million to that effort.

The budget would put $6.1 million toward development of the Fall Line Trail; $5.6 million toward IT enhancements, including $2.3 million for RVAPay and other tax payment upgrades that have received recent attention; $5 million toward the redevelopment of Creighton Court; and $4.2 million toward the city’s homeless shelters.

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Stoney addressing City Council on Wednesday. (Screenshot)

Of the tax payment upgrades that have increased in priority in light of recent complaints from city restaurant owners, Stoney said: “These enhancements will take time to roll out, but we are putting our money where our mouth is and committing the necessary dollars to provide better customer support and services to Richmonders.”

Other highlights include: $1 million to establish a Child Care and Education Trust Fund in collaboration with local childhood education group Thrive Birth to Five; $1.2 million for afterschool programming at Southside, Powhatan and Randolph community centers; $1 million for the Family Crisis Fund for families experiencing financial hardships; $1 million to modernize the 311 citizen-hotline call center; and $500,000 to create a general services department.

Delivering his last budget speech of his eight years in office, Stoney touted accomplishments that he said were made in that time, including a 22% reduction in poverty and in violent crime, a nearly 50% increase in funding for RPS, more than 6,500 new city jobs, 1,200 lane miles of streets paved, and a 1,200% increase in funding for housing for lower-income residents.

The full budget proposal can be viewed on the city’s website. City Council will review the document in depth over the next several weeks in a series of workshops, leading up to an initial public hearing April 8. Initial amendments from council are due April 15, and amendments are to be finalized in a May 6 work session, setting the stage for a second public hearing May 13.

Once adopted, the budget would take effect July 1, the first day of the fiscal year.

POSTED IN Government

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Tom Gates
Tom Gates
26 days ago

The City of Richmond has a population of 229,000ish citizens. The “6500” new employees” seems excessive for a population of Richmond’s size. What are they all doing unless they are being hired to reduce the City’s poverty rate? There are 21,177 students in Richmond Public Schools. The FY25 budget of $529Million works out to about $25,000 per student. What are City residents getting for that type of money in terms of educational outcomes? It seems like a new private school opens every month. Citizens appear to be voting with their feet. What will happen if Virginia ever votes for school… Read more »

Landon Edwards
Landon Edwards
26 days ago
Reply to  Tom Gates

“These enhancements will take time to roll out, but we are putting our money where our mouth is…” Yeah, right Levar! Throw money at all the problems and some of them might get fixed. If you give them enough time. Maybe on the educational front, a better way to spend money would be to incentivize parents to enroll in a class on parenting skills that would teach parents (who never had any) how to be a supportive parent. So their kids could thrive. On the criminal justice side, allocate some money to holding parents legally responsible for crimes committed by… Read more »

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
26 days ago
Reply to  Tom Gates

I think he meant 6500 new jobs created over the last 7-8 years in office. And that is pathetic. But it is about right as just under 1,000 net jobs a year have come in since he took office. But several of the higher end jobs are listed as in RVA but are fully or partially remote AND the city has no local income tax so if your job is listed as downtown but you live in Henrico and come into the city once a week, it doesn’t really make in difference in tax revenue. Amazing to me is that… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Michael Morgan-Dodson
J. Sid DelCardayre
J. Sid DelCardayre
25 days ago
Reply to  Tom Gates

DPU has MyHQ up and running. Works great!

https://dpubillpay.idoxs.net/authentication/login

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
20 days ago
Reply to  Tom Gates

It’s not about educational outcomes.

Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
26 days ago

I think the City of Richmond needs to be bold and put $50 to $60 million into sidewalk repairs and new sidewalks along with a $100 to $150 million into road projects in that $21 million if you compare it to the city’s budget has not at all gone up in the last couple of years while the main city’s budget is quickly going up.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
20 days ago

How will that solve their main concern of not enough graft to distribute Carl?

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
26 days ago

Better late than neve! Why has it taken the Stoney administration, and City council six (6) years to address these issues? If the Mayor can’t manage a city the size of Richmond, how can he possibly manage the Commonwealth of Virginia, as he plans to do by deciding to run for Governor.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
26 days ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

Six years…you giving him an initial year to do nothing Brian. Stoney is out of office after his 2 terms (8 years) in January 1, 2025. Thank goodness; I just wonder who will win.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
20 days ago

Maybe Nicolous Maduro would like to run if he squeezes all the juice out of Venezuela?

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
20 days ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

Luckily the last election showed that most people in VA do not want VA run like Richmond is.

John Lindner
John Lindner
26 days ago

The city of Richmond tax rate that hasn’t changed in 16 years, despite real estate assessments up 40% in the past three years alone? Why do our elected officials think the tax burden on city citizens is unimportant? There’s literally no discussion of it. Why is there no coverage of this in the news? The 2016 budget was $700 million vs. the nearly $3 billion today. All of the surrounding counties seem to have managed to lower their rates so that the discrepancy between the counties and the city is even greater. City citizens pay a 30% tax premium for… Read more »

Nathan Knouse
Nathan Knouse
22 days ago
Reply to  John Lindner

A 1.2% property tax is not the reason Richmond, or the overwhelming majority of cities in America, lack a sufficient supply of affordable housing.

Trying to link the two as a way to frame your opposition to paying property taxes is inappropriate.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
20 days ago
Reply to  Nathan Knouse

It certainly IS why Richmond is the only Richmond area municipality that is not growing in population in recent years.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
20 days ago
Reply to  John Lindner

Clearly, the citizens don’t hold them accountable… that is the answer.

Melvin Journiette
Melvin Journiette
18 days ago
Reply to  John Lindner

Richmond, like every city in the United States is struggling to pay for the infrastructure our great grandparents enjoyed., but even as Richmond struggles, it’s by far more accurate in actually depicting its financial reality than what her nearest neighbor localities, which are only continuing what can only be described as a Ponzi scheme of constantly having local governments taking over the maintenance of developer built roadways and all the accompanying infrastructure to make modern life livable. In other words: Sprawl is bankrupting our localities and due to accounting blind spots the costs of it are continually glossed over as… Read more »

Michael Boyer
Michael Boyer
25 days ago

Wow,8 long damn years!

Melvin Journiette
Melvin Journiette
15 days ago

There are 2 things I want to address here: 1) Richmond (and other Virginia cities ‘) far more accurate accounting of their fiscal reality versus the Virginia counties 2) Car-centric development and the decimation of local municipal governments’ budgets due to accounting oversight 3) American wealth and the distractions of politics, racism, hubris Most that take the time and use their energy to analyze and assess the public affairs facing our regional community (Central Virginia) and its separate constituent municipalities (city of Richmond, surrounding counties) always jump right into stating untruths that assuage their guilt (if they know better) or… Read more »