RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
A shocking surprise for Richmond Public Schools after leaders receive a storm water bill from the city for over one million dollars.
The big bill is for years of unpaid storm water fees.
The school board claims in 2010, city leaders told RPS the district no longer had to pay the fees and the utility hasn't been included in the budget for years.
“If the city knew about this during our budget cycle, why did they wait until after they gave us our allocation to bring our bill forward?” asked school board member Kim Gray. “We're trying to get over a crisis situation with facilities and then we get hit with a million dollar bill.”
It's been a rough year for Richmond Schools. A ceiling tile fell on a student at Fairfield Court Elementary, roofs need major repairs, and HVAC units aren't working.
In May, the School Board had to beg the city extra money just to get by.
“The city put out a press release that they had given us 700 hundred thousand dollars and within a month we got a bill for a million,” said Gray.
When asked about the matter, a city spokesperson issued this statement.
“The City's Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has been working with Richmond Public Schools (RPS) for more than three years on this issue and hopes to resolve the matter in upcoming budget cycles. The City Attorney opined that RPS be billed for Storm water fees, as is federal and state government, VCU, University of Richmond, non-profits, Port of Richmond and commercial, industrial and residential property owners. DPU has continued to work with RPS to implement better management practices to reduce or improve the quality of storm water runoff, such as the installation of rain barrels and rain gardens like the ones installed at Chimborazo Elementary School in 2012. Implementations such as these would result in reduced storm water utility fees for RPS. Storm water Utility fees collected by DPU and are not placed in the City's General Fund, but in a separate account to fund DPU storm water maintenance and infrastructure upgrades for compliance with Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act regulations.”
Gray hopes the city has a change of heart for the sake of students.
“It's sad that we're not all pulling in the same direction when it comes to children and our schools,” said Gray.