RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Just a week after Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney outlined his 2020 budget plan for city council, the proposal is drawing both support and criticism.
In it, Mayor Stoney proposes a rate increase on utilities, a cigarette tax of 50 cents and a property rate hike.
On Wednesday, a major organization formally announced supporting the plan.
Members of the Richmond Education Association voted Monday to support the proposal, but say it’s only the first step.
“Teachers just want to come to work, work, receive equitable pay and to have beautiful buildings and resources,” Richmond Education Association President A. Ramon Moore said.
President Moore also worries, however, that a tax increase could also drive teachers out of the city.
“We are hoping that the elected officials will do what’s possible and we’ll be able to keep all of Richmond Public Schools teachers who actually live in the system to continue to live in the system,” Moore said.
Despite a cigarette tax not passing last year, Mayor Levar Stoney thinks smokers won’t mind paying an extra 50 cents.
“There is money that we are leaving on the table, and we’re the only city in the Commonwealth of Virginia without a levy on cigarettes,” Mayor Levar Stoney said.
Stoney is also challenging city council to come up with a better plan.
“This is serious business and we are trying to make sure what we’re doing is the responsible thing for all of our citizens,” said Richmond City council member Kim Gray. “Asking our citizens to pay a nine-cent increase on the current tax rate is not the responsible thing to do.”
It’s a roughly 60-day process for council to make budget decisions. This week began work sessions where city departments spoke before council with needs.
By Friday, council will submit their first round of changes and potential cuts.