Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Statement from Mayor Dwight C. Jones Concerning Council Budget Deliberations

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement today:

“I want to thank Richmond City Council for working collaboratively with the City Administration through the budget deliberations process. Today’s actions represent progress.

“Based upon recent assessments, increases in projected taxable values, and recent notifications from the state, the Administration has been able to provide additional revenue projections for Council’s consideration. Council has acted to allocate those available funds with a solutions-oriented approach.

“I’m pleased that additional funds have not only been provided to schools, but also have been provided in other much needed areas like public works, police, fire, and finance. I’m also encouraged that our strategy of working to adequately staff the Finance Department is being embraced and that City Council voted to expand on that strategy and fully staff our finance operation. This action will position us to pursue available revenues to address the growing needs of the city.

“We all share similar priorities: meeting core commitments, protecting education, preserving fiscal integrity and ensuring a well-managed government. Today, we’ve demonstrated what can be accomplish when we work together for the greater good.

“I look forward to the next steps in this process as City Council moves toward final passage of the agreed-upon actions.”


Friday, April 29, 2016

Mayor Comments on Governor McAuliffe’s Order Restoring Voting Rights

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement today regarding Governor Terry McAuliffe’s order to restore voting and civil rights:

“I applaud the Governor’s courageous act to restore the civil rights of more than 200,000 Virginians. Making sure those who have paid their debt to society get a second chance is the right thing to do. This action is especially welcomed as we recognize National Reentry Week. The restoration of voting and civil rights is a fundamental step toward breaking down barriers that many formerly incarcerated persons face.

“I strongly encourage all Richmonders who have been given this second chance to register and vote. Participation in our democracy makes our community and our city stronger. You can register online at http://elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/index.html, or contact the City’s Registrar’s office at City Hall at 900 E. Broad St, Suite 105, or call (804) 646-5950.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Multi-Year School Capital Investment Funding Plan

In April, Mayor Dwight C. Jones convened a Multi-Year School Capital Investment Funding Plan Work Group to work collaboratively to develop a long-term, sustainable funding program. This program will identify resources that will provide Richmond Public Schools needed funds for facilities and operations, while preserving the city’s financial integrity.

Please click here for more work group information and compiled data.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mayor Jones, Flying Squirrels, and VCU Lay Out Path to New Ballpark Near Boulevard

Mayor Dwight Jones, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, and Virginia Commonwealth University said today they are working together to explore identifying a location for a new RVA ballpark, near the Diamond, but off the city-owned 60 acres bounded by the Boulevard and Hermitage Road. The announcement follows yesterday’s issuance of a report which recommends full development of the city’s 60 acres and inclusion of sports and entertainment in the larger area.

The partners said extensive stakeholder engagement had brought them together in recent months, fueled by numerous public meetings and survey participation of more than 5,000 residents of the Richmond region.

“This new initiative may very well serve everyone’s interests, particularly the community’s, while allowing the Squirrels to stay in our hometown,” said Lou DiBella, President and Managing General Partner of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. “It feels like we’re closer to a solution than ever before.”

“It’s vitally important that we find ways to generate maximum revenue to fund public schools and other services that a growing city needs,” said Mayor Jones. “This approach opens a pathway for full development of the city’s most valuable land, provides the Squirrels and VCU baseball with a new home and keeps the ballpark in an area that Richmonders love.”

Todd “Parney” Parnell, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Richmond Flying Squirrels underscored the team’s desire to offer year-round programming in addition to baseball. A new facility will help the team accomplish that.

Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin said that while VCU’s baseball team plays at The Diamond (under a sub-lease with the Squirrels), the facility is not ideal for the team’s future needs.

“VCU and the Squirrels have a great sports partnership, and we are excited about moving toward a new ballpark in Virginia’s capital city that enables our teams to compete at the highest level and improve the fan experience at our games,” said VCU President Michael Rao.

The partners emphasized that a new ballpark would likely be funded primarily by the ballpark’s users. They agreed to report progress to the public by the end of an approximately 90-day period, during which the city would pursue a “request for qualifications” from national real estate developers, engage regional partners, and continue public engagement to determine the long-term future of the Boulevard area.

To demonstrate the city’s commitment to a long term solution, Mayor Jones said the city intends to extend the Squirrels’ current lease on the Diamond for a second one-year extension to December 31, 2018.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mayor Jones' Remarks on City's FY2017 Budget Deliberations

Mayor Dwight C. Jones - Prepared Remarks
City's FY2017 Budget Deliberations
April 15, 2016

Click here to view the full video of the press conference.

Good morning, everyone.

I would like to start by thanking City Council as they review my proposed changes to the FY17 budget.

Each year this process can be long and arduous, especially in a year when resources are limited and the needs are extensive.

Earlier this week, members of City Council proposed changes to the budget that I introduced last month. 

The deadline for their changes was Monday, before the regular Council meeting and the public hearing.  

Despite hearing about some Councilmember’s proposals through the news media, the week is now coming to an end and I still have not yet seen any of their proposals. 

With the current fiscal constraints, it is imperative that we work together to move the City forward.  

I’ve instructed my staff to request Council’s amendment proposals, and we were advised that they may be released some time next week.

In the interest of transparency, the City Council should release their budget amendments NOW, so Richmonders can know how the Council proposes to spend their money—and what they’ll cut to pay for any new spending.

The news media reported that several Council members want significant spending increases. But there was no mention of where the money would come from.

That’s the fundamental issue, because we all want schools to have more money.

In fact, year after year, we’ve devoted million more to RPS.

For the next fiscal year, I have proposed to once again allocate the $11.2 million in new money that City Council set aside last year for Richmond Public Schools, and to hold them harmless from cuts. 

If I had more money, I’d be willing to give it to them. But the money simply doesn’t exist. 

And to find it, would require taking it from other critical services. That’s the question when City Council proposes new spending.

Will these amendments allow for Departments like Police and Finance to address critical staffing needs?

Will these amendments allow us to provide for services that our residents demand, but that have already been reduced, such as leaf collection, street paving and bulk pick up?

Will these amendments protect the City’s financial integrity by allowing us to build upon our financial bond upgrades, so that Richmond can achieve Triple A status like other world-class communities?

While we do not yet know, I am hopeful that we can work together to balance ALL the needs of Virginia’s capital city.

Now, I know it’s an election year, and that means lots of promises. But the test of leadership is to show how you will actually accomplish your goals.

So while we await Council’s amendments, I want to reiterate the fundamental principles I laid out when I introduced the budget early last month.

Our starting point is this: We currently have a budget gap, because last year the City Council diverted $9 million from basic services. 

To close this gap, we are freezing hiring, limiting discretionary spending, and enhancing revenue collections.

Agency budgets are being reduced by 12% or more across the board—on top of the 3% reductions approved last year. Schools will not see its budget cut in FY 2017. 

While other agencies have seen reductions year after year, I have authorized schools to retain budget surpluses from previous years.

I have also proposed a 25% reduction in discretionary non-departmental funding, as well as higher fees that our residents will pay for service delivery. 

None of these are decisions are easy, but they are necessary to pay for City Council’s decision to divert funds away from basic services.

We must understand that funding for basic services and funding for schools is not a matter of ‘either/or.’ It’s about determining how to do both, given the limited resources available.

That’s why, in addition to the funding already included in the budget for Richmond Public Schools, I have put together a Multi-Year School Funding Project Evaluation Team.  

This group includes members of City Council, the School Board, City staff, the superintendent and his staff, as well as community leaders and stakeholders in the business community. 

Our goal is to develop a long-term, sustainable funding program to bring Richmond Public Schools the money needed for facilities and operations —and to do it in a way that preserves the city’s financial integrity.  

This Team is an example of the way we must work together to move this City forward.

As Mayor, I’ve had to write budgets with limited local revenue, declining state dollars, and rising needs. 

In fact, while our population has increased 10% over the past decade, the number of city personnel to serve that growing population has declined by 9%, and revenues are roughly the same as they were a decade ago.

This is partly because the City had decided to lower the real estate tax rate twice just prior to the recession. That action, together with the economic downturn, basically has us operating today, in 2016, at 2008 financial levels—even though the city has grown over that time. These are the facts.

Our dollars are limited, and any new ones have to come from somewhere. 

My approach is to live within our means as much as possible. I have proposed to fund services using existing resources and by raising some new ones. 

It’s a bad idea to raid our financial reserves, because that will threaten our credit rating, and we should reject any proposal to do so. 

A lower credit rating will make it harder and more expensive to borrow money in the future—and that means it will take longer and cost more money to build new schools and deliver the other services our residents and neighborhoods expect.

It’s also a bad idea to continue down the path that was taken last year—the path of cutting operations without regard for the consequences. Any additional cuts to basic services will inevitably cripple the city. 

The people don’t want that, and that’s why we don’t hear any calls for service reductions—like giving up leaf collection, cutting hours of operation at City Hall, reducing trash pickup, or cutting bulk trash services. 

In fact, I hear people saying they want the leaves picked up sooner and the streets paved faster. But that’s only going to get worse if the City Council cuts the budget further.

It’s time to let the public know what the Council is proposing and let’s work together to find the best solutions.

With that, I’d like to ask our CAO and our Deputy CAO for Finance to discuss some of the specific problems we’re facing now, and to project what further cuts would mean to the services that our residents expect.

# # #

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Richmond Designated “Tree City USA” for 25th Consecutive Year

For a quarter century Richmond has been recognized annually with the designation of “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation. Richmond is one of 54 cities and counties in the Commonwealth being honored for the 2015 calendar year. The designation comes just as Arbor Day celebrations are approaching on April 29. 

During each of the past 25 years the City has met the requirements for the designation, which include: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. According to the Arbor Day Foundation website, “The Tree City USA program provides direction, assistance and national recognition for your community. It’s the framework for a healthy, sustainable urban forestry program in your town. And the benefits are substantial.”

There are approximately 80,000 public trees on City-owned properties. They are maintained by certified arborists in the Urban Forestry Division (UFD). Mayor Dwight C. Jones has supported the division’s efforts to increase the number of trees through his initiative to plant nearly 2000 new trees annually over the past five years. 

When properly maintained, trees provide shade, reduce air pollutants, are aesthetically appealing, increase property values and provide a habitat for wildlife. 

In addition to the City arborists, a group of volunteers called the Richmond Tree Stewards who train under City arborists, work closely with the Urban Forestry Division to monitor the health of City trees and promote their ability to thrive and survive in an urban environment.

For more information on City services, please visit www.RichmondGov.com

City Partners With PulsePoint to Improve Cardiac Arrest Response in RVA

Mayor Dwight C. Jones and City of Richmond Public Safety agencies have joined with the PulsePoint Foundation to bring life-saving technology to the city through PulsePoint, a mobile app designed to increase public awareness of cardiac events beyond a traditional “witnessed” area and engage them in potentially life-saving CPR.

With the launch of a new smartphone application, saving lives and preventing catastrophic injuries is now just a click away. The PulsePoint Respond smartphone application, or app, is currently active throughout the City of Richmond. This free app, available on Android and Apple platforms, notifies residents and off-duty professionals who are trained in CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and are willing to assist in the event of an emergency.

With location-aware software linked to the 911 system, PulsePoint Respond notifies registered users when someone may be in need of CPR in a nearby public place. If the app user responds to the alert, they are given further instructions to include if an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is also nearby. As a result, PulsePoint users can potentially find a victim of cardiac arrest, begin CPR, and implement an AED during the time it takes for First Responders to arrive.

A second free app, PulsePoint AED, enables the public to report and update AED locations so that emergency responders, including nearby individuals trained in CPR, can find an AED close to them when a cardiac emergency occurs. PulsePoint AED app users can describe the location, snap a picture, and the information is stored for Richmond Fire Department officials to verify. After that, the AED location data is made available to anyone using PulsePoint Respond.

“Bringing this mobile, life-saving technology to our community is a tremendous step forward. The PulsePoint app will be of great assistance to our first responders as it will position Good Samaritans to engage in life saving CPR right away, especially when seconds count, said Mayor Jones. “At City Hall, we've installed AEDs, which will help us take full advantage of these applications. I encourage everyone to learn about this life saving device as well as the PulsePoint apps."

With more than 1,000 people in the U.S. dying each day from cardiac arrest, the life-saving potential of bystander intervention cannot be overstated. Four out of five cardiac arrests happen outside of a hospital setting. Sadly, the likelihood of surviving a cardiac arrest falls by 10% for every minute that a person does not receive CPR assistance. In fact, national survival rates are below 8% due, in part, to the lack of effective bystander CPR assistance. In addition, without timely CPR and AED assistance many who survive must endure a lifetime of residual neurological injuries. However, study after study proves effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double, and even triple, a victim’s chance of survival and reduce if not eliminate permanent and debilitating injuries.

The PulsePoint app has played a key role in saving several lives. The first documented PulsePoint save involved a 57-year old truck driver near Portland, Oregon, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest outside his gym and received CPR from a PulsePoint responder. In Spokane, Washington a five-week old infant received CPR from a nearby off-duty EMS volunteer working at his job as a mechanic. In Sunnyvale, California, a 63-year old father of two collapsed on a soccer field and received CPR from a college student living nearby who received a PulsePoint alert on his mobile phone.

“PulsePoint-connected communities don’t need to rely on the luck of having a CPR-trained citizen witness a cardiac arrest,” said Richard Price, President of the PulsePoint Foundation. “By directly notifying those who are qualified and nearby, PulsePoint helps put the right people in the right place at the right time. PulsePoint builds on the good work that a community has done with CPR training and AED placement and improves the efficiency and use of these resources. Two-thirds of our 24-hour healthcare professionals – firefighters, paramedics, police officers, nurses, doctors – are off-duty at any one time. With PulsePoint, responders like these are available to assist if they are made aware of an urgent need nearby.”

“Normally, less than a third of these victims receive CPR from a bystander,” said Dr Joseph P Ornato, Medical Director of both Richmond Ambulance Authority and Richmond Fire Dept. “Widespread participation in the PulsePoint app could improve survival rates for these patients.” Ornato himself is also a survivor of sudden cardiac arrest.

“The 100 Club of Metropolitan Richmond, an extension of the Retail Merchants Association, is pleased to have made PulsePoint available to the citizens of Richmond through a grant from The 100 Club,” said James Hatcher, President of The 100 Club.

About the PulsePoint Foundation

PulsePoint is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through the use of location-aware mobile devices PulsePoint is building applications that work with local public safety agencies to improve communications with citizens, empowering them to help reduce the millions of annual deaths from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Deployment of the PulsePoint app can significantly strengthen the “chain of survival” by improving bystander response to cardiac arrest victims and increasing the chance that lifesaving steps will be taken prior to the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS). PulsePoint is built and maintained by volunteer engineers at Workday and distributed by our marketing and implementation partner Physio-Control, Inc. CTIA Wireless Foundation is a key sponsor and advocate of PulsePoint, providing industry and financial support. Learn more at www.pulsepoint.org or join the conversation at Facebook and Twitter. The free app is available for download on iTunesand Google Play.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. The American Heart Association estimates that effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. However, less than half of cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR and even fewer receive a potentially lifesaving therapeutic shock from a public access AED. Improving bystander CPR rates and access to AEDs is critical to the chain of survival, which requires: (1) early recognition of the emergency and phoning 911 for EMS, (2) early bystander CPR, (3) early delivery of a shock via a defibrillator if indicated and (4) early advanced life support and post-resuscitation care delivered by healthcare providers. Different than a heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops working properly. For every minute that passes without a cardiac arrest victim receiving resuscitation, the chances of that person surviving decrease 10 percent. After 10 minutes the chances of survival are minimal.