RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney presented his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2022. The proposed $770.3 million budget offers an increased budget for schools, funding for the implementation of the Marcus Alert, increased wages for city employees and more.
A release from the Mayor’s Office explains that the city’s municipal revenue is expected to be $18.5 million less than in FY21 but the proposed budget is still balanced 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.”
The budget proposes a $5.27 increase in monthly utility bills for city residents. The release states this increase will bring in over $3 million to put towards improving areas prone to flooding. Residents will not have to worry about any increased real estate, personal property or other general taxes with this proposal.
Stoney’s proposed operating budget and the Capital Improvement Plan for FY22-26 suggests a number of a “key investments.”
The proposed plans include a $90,000 increase in funding for sidewalk construction, bringing the total amount of sidewalk construction funding to $2.5 million. There will also be a $33.5 million budget for sidewalk maintenance, bike lane addition, bridge repairs and general transportation improvements. Also under the transportation umbrella will be $8 million for the Greater Richmond Transit Company.
Schools will get $6.4 million more in funding this year, not including one-time use funding, bringing the total budget to $187 million. In FY24 there are plans to fund the building of a new George Wythe High School.
Housing funding will remain similar to 2021 with $2.9 million for Affordable Housing Trust and $485,000 to the Eviction Diversion Program.
Some new projects on the horizon for the city include a $1.1 million budget for establishing the Marcus Alert and the CIP includes $28 million for the Enslaved African Heritage Campus.
Two new offices will be created under the proposed plans, the Office of Engagement and the Office of Equity. The city will also fund and hire a Community Safety Coordinator to help with prevention of gun-violence and service coordination for people experiencing homelessness.
If the budget is approved as is, city employees making $12.07 an hour will get a raise to $13 an hour. Another $6 million will go into the general fund to work towards making recommended improvements to employee compensation.
“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,” Stoney said.
In light of the pandemic putting a strain on the budget Stoney says City Council will be able to see a list with all frozen and funded positions. This year, 150 positions will be frozen to “balance the budget.”
“Whether times are lean or prosperous, I want you to know that I will continue to be bold and embrace the challenges before us,” Stoney said.