Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Mayor Stoney Delivers Budget Proposal for FY 2019/2020

Today Mayor Levar M. Stoney delivered his biennial budget proposal for FY 2019/2020 to City Council. The proposed $715.2 million budget for the coming year is fully balanced, and all expenses are in line with current revenue projections.

“This is a fiscally responsible and lean budget, but this plan still manages to continue to invest, and even improve and expand upon our support for targeted priorities in core services, public safety, poverty mitigation and education, said Mayor Stoney.

The following are some of the highlights from the proposed budget:
  • Reinvestment of $12.5 million of Richmond Public Schools balances to meet local funding requests for 2019
  • $3.3 million in funding to continue the salary decompression and step pay increases instituted last year for both police and firefighters
  • An additional $1 million toward the paving program to pave an additional 20 lane miles for the improvement of neighborhood streets
  • A reduction in the water rate for all single family residential customers (meaning the average residential customer will see a $3.70 decrease in their bill)
  • Creation of a new Department of Citizen Service and Response to oversee the 311 Call Center

  • Creation of a new Performance Management Office to track the implementation of key priorities and help grow a culture of accountability and success
  • Creation of a new Department of Housing and Community Development from reallocation of resources from the Office of Economic and Community Development
  • Four new positions for the Richmond Police Department dedicated to serving the needs of public housing communities

  • An investment of more than $630,000 in a pilot program with the Department of Parks and Recreation to extend hours of operation at six recreation sites
  • A substantial increase in the investment in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, from $731,000 in 2018 to $1 million per year in fiscal years 2019 and 2020

  • Increase funding for Richmond Behavioral Health Authority by $733,000
  • Free, on an unlimited basis, bus rides for every Richmond Public high school student provided by the Greater Richmond Transit Corporation for an entire year
  • At least one full-service, out-of-school time provider for every Richmond elementary and middle school
  • A 1 percent salary increase for non-sworn, non-constitutional officer employees to take effect in January of 2019 and an additional 1 percent increase in 2020

  • Four weeks of paid maternity leave for birth mothers and 4 weeks of paid parental bonding leave for the birth of a child (City of Richmond employees)
  • A budget amendment to include a 1% Cost of Living Adjustment for former City of Richmond employees if the 2018 fiscal year ends with a surplus

“If we don’t think ambitiously, and creatively, about how investments today can pay big dividends tomorrow, then we are little more than caretakers of the way things are, de facto defenders of the status quo,” said Mayor Stoney. “That is not good enough for me.

“This is a challenge we cannot turn down, and this is a test we must pass – not just to be fiscally balanced and to check all the boxes to meet our financial obligations, but to be creative, ambitious and to invest in our shared priorities: a well-run city, a safer city, a healthy city and a city of opportunity, One Richmond, committed to the promise of a brighter future for all of its residents.”

Read the mayor’s remarks as prepared for delivery here.
The proposed biennial budget can be found here.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Mayor Stoney Makes Three More Administration Appointments

Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the appointment of three highly-qualified professionals to fill three additional executive positions presently held by interim appointees.

Acting Directors of Human Resources, Korita Brown Jones, and Information Technology, Charles G. Todd, have been promoted to positions of director, while Albemarle County’s recent Director of Finance, Betty J. Burrell, has been hired to serve as Richmond’s new Director of Procurement Services.

“Once again, we are most fortunate to have the best-of-the-best accepting these critically important leadership positions,” said Mayor Stoney. “While bringing renewed accountability to City Hall is an ongoing process and an especially concerted effort, our success is predicated upon the quality and dedication of our employees and people we have leading our departments.

“Korita, Charles and Betty all bring a wealth of experience, ideas and vigor to our administration, and I welcome them in these positions and look forward to all we will accomplish working together during my term.”

Korita Brown Jones has worked for the City of Richmond since January 2008.  She began her career with the city as a human resources (HR) consultant and worked on a variety of joint personnel-related projects through the former RichmondWorks initiative. 

Korita was previously promoted to Council Policy Analyst by Richmond City Council, and again to serve as council’s first HR liaison. In 2015, she was promoted to serve as the Division Chief of Compensation and Benefits in the Department of Human Resources, where she was instrumental in administering that year’s employee salary increases, launching the city’s high deductible health insurance plan with a city-sponsored health savings account and completing the city’s first comprehensive compensation study. Over the last year, Korita has served as interim HR Director.

Prior to the City of Richmond, Korita was employed with Springsted Incorporated, Genworth Financial and Chesterfield County, Virginia. She is a native of Petersburg, VA and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from Virginia State University.

Charles G. Todd has worked for the City of Richmond in the Department of Information Technology (DIT) since 2013, when he was appointed manager of the department’s applications bureau and was responsible for six teams providing application development and management for all city agencies. This followed a 2012 contract appointment from Modis, where he led an application development and management team supporting nine city agencies. In 2015, he was promoted to Deputy Director for DIT Operations, overseeing the applications, infrastructure and end user services bureaus. Since then, he has served as interim director for the department.

Prior to his employment with the city, Charles worked for 17 years as an officer, vice president and senior vice president for Bank of America. There he was responsible for systems conversions, process reengineering, application development, CRM infrastructure, distributed systems, business intelligence and enterprise architecture. Charles is a native of Richmond and received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Virginia Tech.

Betty J. Burrell has served in local government for over 35 years, including a decade in procurement leadership during her tenure as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the City of Portsmouth, VA. She most recently held the position of Finance Director for Albemarle County, VA, where she led the local government and schools purchasing divisions, real estate and local tax assessments and collections, payroll, accounts payable and financial reporting. 

Betty also led Albermarle’s team that implemented Purchasing Cards (P-cards), which resulted in operational cost savings, rebate revenue generation and improved accountability, reporting and data analytics.

Betty holds a Master of Science in Administration with a concentration in Public Administration degree from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Averett University. 

“I cannot be more pleased with the leadership team we’ve put together,” said Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn.  “Human resources, procurement and information technology are key focal points in the backbone of our administration, and I am most pleased to welcome these talented individuals to their new positions.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

Update on North of Broad/Downtown Redevelopment Request for Proposals

On November 9, 2017, Mayor Stoney formally announced the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the North of Broad/Downtown Neighborhood Redevelopment Project. Issuing the RFP was the first step in initiating an open competitive process for a transformative opportunity to spur redevelopment of a significant portion of real estate located in the neighborhood north of Broad Street in downtown Richmond.

Upon announcing the RFP, Mayor Stoney noted that “The goals of this RFP are bold, but provide an opportunity to achieve a number of strategic objectives for the city. To expand economic development and affordable housing opportunities, to generate revenue while achieving poverty mitigations through jobs and training, to provide historic preservation and community revitalization, to promote and support tourism, and to ensure sustainable development and investments in infrastructure.”

The RFP required respondents address a variety of components, including:

  • Replacement of the Richmond Coliseum
  • Mixed income and affordable housing
  • Community revitalization
  • Infrastructure improvements necessary to support new traffic patterns and increased pedestrian activity
  • Poverty mitigation including local job creation, training, and hiring
  • Minority and Emerging Small Business participation
  • Replacement of the GRTC Transfer Station
  • New Convention Center Hotel
  • Historic Preservation and adaptive reuse of the Blues Armory
  • Project financing that does not involve the moral or general obligation of the city

Mayor Stoney made it clear that the city will not entertain any proposal that requires the city to use its existing tax revenue or debt capacity. The city will not incur any moral or general obligation bonds to fund any private component of a proposal, but is willing to consider proposals that incorporate tax increment financing or the creation of special service districts.

“We have too much to do for schools, housing, roads and other city priorities to leverage our limited borrowing capacity for this redevelopment,” Mayor Stoney said.

Last Friday, February 9, 2018, was the deadline for the city to receive submissions in response to the RFP. The city received one Proposal prior to the submission deadline and will now turn its focus towards the review process.

A review committee of city staff will conduct a rigorous initial review and assessment of the Proposal, which is expected to take approximately 30 days. In order to ensure that all facets are evaluated and the city’s interests are protected, the review will involve multiple city disciplines including finance, economic and community development, operations, minority and emerging small business, planning, and transportation.

If the results of the initial review warrant moving forward, preliminary discussions will be undertaken over approximately 45 to 60 days following completion of the review. Contract negotiations, if warranted, would follow so that any project agreements and related ordinances could be finalized and presented to City Council for consideration later this year. 

“The North of Broad area presents a tremendous opportunity for transformational change, and as I stated from the onset, we set a high bar for respondents because that’s what we have to do to achieve true neighborhood revitalization,” Mayor Stoney said.

“I expect a thorough and meticulous review process, and we will only move forward if the Proposal is in the best interests of the city and does not negatively impact the city’s finances and debt capacity. If the Proposal does not live up to the goals set forth in the RFP, then we will have to explore other alternatives.” 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mayor Levar M. Stoney Statement on City Council Passage of Meals Tax Proposal to Fund School Facilities

“Tonight, the City of Richmond sent a strong message to its students that it is no longer willing to kick the can down the road when it comes to providing them with modern, safe and healthy environments in which to learn. This is just the first big step in what will be many more steps to improve our schools for our children, and for the generations of Richmond Public School students to come. After decades of telling them to wait, tonight we put them first. We are moving full-steam ahead with our plan to generate $150 million in new school construction and renovation of facilities that have been neglected for far too long.

This was not an easy decision, and it does not solve all of our schools’ challenges, but it was important that we get started now. I’d like to thank the members of City Council tonight for understanding the urgency and importance of our needs and having the courage to take action. And I would like to thank the Richmond School Board and Superintendent Jason Kamras for their advocacy and leadership for the children under their care. Through our Education Compact, we will continue to work together to tackle the challenges that lie ahead and forge solutions that will not only benefit our students but also make our city stronger.

To the restauranteurs who supported this proposal and those who had reservations about it, you are part of what makes Richmond a great place to live, work and play. I will continue to be a champion for you, and I look forward to finding ways that we can make it easier for you to do business and continue to thrive.

The large number and wide range of individuals and organizations who have supported this initiative – from education advocates to the real estate and business community to RPS teachers, parents and students – reinforce the broad consensus that we must move forward. Our kids can’t wait, and you heard their voices.

Our children face a brighter future. Now let’s make it happen.”

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rose Fellowship Panel Presents Findings on “A Shared Vision for Shockoe Bottom”

Today the Rose Fellowship Panel presented their findings and recommendations on how the City of Richmond can take progressive steps in the coming years to protect and honor the unique history of Shockoe Valley through community engagement while building an economically viable neighborhood and international destination through existing and future investment.

“We’ve had a number of experts and advisors here from around the country to take a look at some of the land use issues we face in the city,” Mayor Levar M. Stoney stated to a full room at Main Street Station. “And although we may face some challenges, we have an opportunity to remember and honor the enslaved Africans who built this city and also celebrate the vibrancy of Shockoe Valley.”

Today’s public meeting culminated four days of site visits and stakeholder and community engagement by a team of national land use and design experts assembled and sponsored in its entirety by the Daniel Rose fellowship. Mayor Stoney was one of four U.S. Mayors selected for this fellowship and chose Shockoe Valley as the land use issue he wanted the group to review.

“We are grateful to the Rose team for lending their time and expertise to an important issue in our city,” continued the mayor. “We look forward to reviewing the report and engaging further with the community.”

Click here to watch the video of the presentation.

Click here to view the presented slides.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

State Auditor of Public Accounts Recants Prior Financial Distress Notification

The Commonwealth’s Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) notified city officials in a letter dated last Friday, January 26 (attached), that Richmond “does not appear to be in a situation of fiscal distress that would warrant further assistance or intervention from the Commonwealth,” as the APA’s preliminary determination indicated in August of last year. 

Richmond’s Director of Finance, John Wack, provided members of city council with the attached intracity memorandum, explaining how the APA’s Financial Assessment Model (FAM) prematurely identified potential financial distress indicators last August.

The city’s financial advisors, Davenport & Company, also determined the FAM criteria previously used were too limited in scope and substance, did not take into account Richmond’s demographics, economic development, strength of management nor the city’s debt practices and reasons for debt. 

The APA has now set the record straight. 

“I am pleased the APA has obtained a further and better understanding of our financial strengths and best practices,” said Lenora Reid, Richmond’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance and Administration. “Richmond remains actively and successfully engaged in bolstering our city finances, and this most recent APA correspondence reiterates this fact for all to see.”

Click here to view the APA Follow Up Memo

Click here to view the Fiscal Stress Followup.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mayor Levar Stoney's 2018 State of the City Address

Mayor Levar M. Stoney delivered his 2018 State of the City Address Tuesday, January 23 at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. The mayor reviewed the administration's significant accomplishments in 2017 and reported the state of the city is "strong." Included in his remarks was the announcement of initiatives to fund school construction and address challenges in our public housing communities.

The mayor's State of the City Address as prepared can be found here.