Friday, January 12, 2018

Richmond Gas Works Announces Increase in Purchased Gas Cost



Richmond Gas Works customers will see an increase of the purchased gas cost (PGC) in their February 2018 utility bills.  The cost for purchased gas will increase from $0.450 per 100 cubic feet (1 Ccf) used to $0.525.   The average customer who uses 70 Ccf’s of natural gas will see an estimated $5.25 increase in their monthly bill.  By law, Richmond Gas Works passes on the cost of natural gas purchased and delivered to customers, dollar for dollar, without any markup. Other components of the natural gas bill – the distribution charge and customer charge – are unchanged.        




At the time of this release, Richmond Gas Works’ PGC rate is less than or equal to surrounding natural gas franchises. Richmond Gas Works’ Interim Director, Rosemary Green, attributes the increase to demand, “An extended cold snap along the east coast and greater demand in the natural gas market is responsible for this increase,” says Green.      



Across all energy sectors (electricity, heating oil, propane), natural gas remains the most efficient and economical choice of fuel for home heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying.
Richmond Gas Works understands that from time to time a customer may need assistance in paying their natural gas heating bill.


To help serve this need, Richmond Gas Works offers information and programs year-round to encourage customers to better manage their utility bills and seek assistance before bills become unmanageable.  Richmond Gas Works also encourages customers to consider enrolling in the Equal Monthly Payment Plan (EMPP) in order to avoid large seasonal fluctuations in their monthly bill.  More information about EMPP and other programs is available by calling (804) 646-4646 or visiting www.RichmondGasWorks.com/residential/your-bill/.
  • Equal Monthly Payment Program (EMPP) - Richmond Gas Works, in conjunction with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), offers this program which spreads payments evenly over 12 months, along with other convenient payment plans.  The EMPP works well because the annual customer natural gas charges is used to calculate an equal payment amount that spreads the cost over the entire year and allows customers to develop a monthly energy budget.  Call Richmond Ga Works’ Customer Care Center at (804) 646-4646 for more information.
     
  • MetroCare Program -  This heating bill payment assistance program provides funds to eligible families and individuals who are having trouble paying their primary heating bills due to a financial difficulty or other special hardship.  The program period began Dec. 15.  Residents within Richmond Gas Works' service territory may apply for funds through MetroCare.  For more information, call (804) 646-4646
 Click here for FAQs.
 



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Richmond City Council appoints its new City Auditor


Richmond City Council today during its scheduled special meeting appointed Mr. Lou Lassiter as its new City Auditor to head the Richmond City Council Office of the City Auditor. His service is to begin February 1, 2018.

In that position, Mr. Lassiter will assist Council in helping to ensure the administration, management, integrity, efficiency, and effectiveness of city government expenditures on behalf of Richmond residents. 

Duties of the City Auditor include administering internal audit and investigation functions in verifying accountability over City resources; evaluating efficiencies and effectiveness of City operations; and, determining compliance with laws, regulations, and policies. The position provides management and oversight of Richmond City Council Office of the City Auditor staff and other resources necessary in auditing evaluating, and investigating city departments, offices, boards, etc. and other individual or entity expenditures of city-funded monies.

Mr. Lassiter currently serves as the Deputy County Administrator for Finance and Administration for Chesterfield County, Virginia where he has served for more than 20 years. His service includes 19 years as its Internal Audit Director.

Mr. Lassiter is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Government Financial Manager. He also has served as a member of the national Association of Local Government Auditors Board of Directors, and President of the Virginia Local Government Auditors Association. Mr. Lassiter earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison University.

Council is very confident with its decision in appointing this highly qualified, experienced, and dedicated public service professional whose knowledge, skills, and expertise in Virginia local government as a respected auditor and administrator make him an outstanding choice to lead this important Council Office. Council welcomes Mr. Lassiter, wishes him well, and looks forward to his service on behalf of Richmond residents.

Council also thanks the services of Mr. William C. Barrett, III who temporarily served in that capacity on an interim basis.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

City to Implement New Electronic Content Management System Software


The city’s Finance Information Services Team today announced the implementation of a new Electronic Content Management Software, Onbase by Hyland. This new software will be integrated with existing City of Richmond software tools to create an intelligent business workflow management platform. Over the next several months the system will be implemented with both the Accounts Payables and Revenue Administration groups. The implementation of this technology will allow for expedited invoice processing to vendors as well as interactive tools for our constituents to track tax information and payments. 

“This project represents a commitment by the City of Richmond to meet the goals set forth by Mayor Stoney’s Richmond 300 plan by working to open all lines of communication and data transfer between all city departments and the people of the city,”  said Mimi Terry, Deputy Director/Controller and Acting Director of Procurement.

For questions and more information, contact CORECMS@Richmondgov.com

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Bond Refunding Saves City of Richmond Approximately $13 Million


On Monday, December 4, 2017, the City of Richmond successfully sold its $119 million tax-exempt General Obligation Public Improvement Refunding Bonds in order to refund existing debt service and achieve interest rate savings.

The cost of funds for the city’s 2017D Refunding Bonds was approximately 2.4%, which is near the lowest cost of funds in several decades. The city took advantage of the historic low interest rate environment to refund two outstanding bond issues, which will result in the city reducing its existing debt service by roughly $13 million over the next 15 years.

Moody’s and Fitch reaffirmed their strong ratings on the city’s 2017D Bonds at Aa2 and AA+, respectively. S&P is expected to reaffirm its AA+ rating of the city’s 2017D Bonds later this week.

“These savings have the potential to accelerate funding for our priorities, such as school-related capital projects,” said Mayor Stoney. “The credit ratings additionally underscore Wall Street’s confidence in Richmond and our financial future.”

Progress made this year in the city’s Finance Department allowed Richmond to move quickly and act on the refunding opportunity. “The city’s timing for issuing these bonds could not have been better,” said Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn.

David Rose, representing the city’s financial advisor Davenport & Company LLC, credited the Stoney administration’s commitment to strong fiscal management and best practices. “We believe the city could not have taken advantage of this refunding without the completion of the FY2017 CAFR ahead of schedule and a significant general fund surplus.”

Thursday, November 30, 2017

City to Implement Steps to Improve Customer Interaction for City Permitting


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the city is implementing a series of steps to improve customer interaction with permitting in the City of Richmond. In a letter sent to stakeholders on November 28, the mayor addressed changes coming to the city’s permit center located in Room 110 at City Hall.

“After hearing from many relating to their experience applying for and receiving permits from Room 110, we are changing how these matters are handled here at City Hall,” said Mayor Stoney. “We are committed to making the process of getting a permit less time-consuming, and more customer-friendly and efficient, and will take full advantage of the technology we have available to make it easier to conduct business with the City of Richmond.”
 
The following steps will be implemented on December 1, 2017:

Better office hours

The Permit Center will now be open 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Monday - ­Friday), which previously operated from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. This will allow customers to come in earlier and get their business done, as well as provide city staff the needed time to have meetings and return calls. Staffing hours will not change.

Improvements to Room 110

Renovations have been approved to improve customer flow, providing better separation between those who are waiting, and those working with Permit Techs or with other city departments. At the request of Mayor Stoney, city staff have customer wait times down to an average of 30 minutes from almost an hour wait earlier in the year. The improvements made to Room 110 will help city staff to continue to provide better service.

E-mailed Permits

Permits can be sent to valid email addresses as soon as plans are approved, allowing applicants to spend less time in City Hall.

Validated Parking

The city will provide 1-hour or 2-hour validated parking for business conducted in Room 110 at the city's parking deck at 7thStreet and Marshall Street. This will help alleviate some of the challenges with parking near City Hall.

Additionally, the city is continuing to work on the EnerGov system to bring online submittal of plans and payment of fees. Additional staff has been hired to help improve plan review times and customer service. 


Mayor Stoney Begins Series of Teacher Recruitment Visits for Richmond Public Schools


Mayor Levar M. Stoney has begun a series of recruitment visits to Virginia’s colleges and universities as part of an effort to encourage students and prospective graduates to begin their careers by teaching in Richmond Public Schools.


On Tuesday, the mayor visited Virginia State University, where he spoke with more than 200 students on the benefits of a teaching career and living in Richmond. 

The Mayor’s outreach is a joint effort in collaboration with RPS to help close the teacher vacancy gap in RPS by tapping the talent of the state’s higher education system. 

“Good students are the product of good teachers, and we want the very best for our schools,” said Mayor Stoney. “Our students deserve nothing less, and our top-rated colleges and universities have the talent that can make a difference in the lives of our children and take our city to the next level.”

Over the next five months, the mayor will make recruiting visits to college campuses throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. His next scheduled visit will be this Friday, Dec. 1 to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. RPS will also hold an internal teacher job fair in February 2018 and will visit a series of colleges for teacher job fairs between January and April.

“Teacher recruitment remains a high priority for us, so it is encouraging to have this level of support from Mayor Stoney,” said School Board Chair Dawn Page. “Recruiting and retaining highly, qualified teachers is a major benefit to the school district as well as the progression of the city. Richmond is a great city to live, work, and play which makes it the ideal place to start or continue an impactful career in public education.”

The starting salary for a Richmond Public Schools teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience is $44,525, plus benefits. RPS annually hires approximately 360 teachers for a new school year.
For more information on RPS teaching opportunities, please visit: www.rvaschools.net/domain/822.



Monday, November 27, 2017

Mayor Stoney Releases Update on Recommendations of the VCU Performance Review


Mayor Levar Stoney today released a detailed update on steps his Administration has taken to address the findings and recommendations of the VCU Performance Review, conducted in May 2017. 

The update is contained in the 25-page report found 
here
. The report provides a summary of the Administration’s efforts both to reform and improve the functioning of government and to build One Richmond. The report also contains summary recommendations developed by an interagency Cross Functional Team, consisting of employees from numerous different departments who examined issues concerning improving communications and processes within the organization. Finally, the report summarizes progress on key priorities of the Stoney Administration and identifies an action plan for the next three months leading into presentation of the FY 2019 and FY 2020 budget in March 2018. 

As part of that action plan, Mayor Stoney today announced his intention to create a Performance Management and Change unit based within the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer. This unit will work with the CAO to implement organizational change and to monitor timely execution of policy priorities throughout City government. The unit will also provide analytical and technical assistance to all City agencies as needed.

Mayor Stoney has assigned Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Thad Williamson to work directly with Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn to incubate and launch the Performance Management and Change unit. 

“I am committed to building a culture of success and service in City Hall, and to making this an organization in which employees are proud to serve,” said Mayor Stoney. “That means doing the little things well, but it also means improving policies and reforming outdated practices. This report provides that road map.”

Since May the Mayor has personally visited agencies and listened to employees; and he has asked directors to respond to the performance review findings while continuing to implement the first a year transition plan. He convened a Cross Functional Team that has produced detailed plans on how to improve communication and processes.

“The next step now is institutionalizing change. Our new Performance Management and Change unit will help make sure that good ideas get translated into concrete action,” added Mayor Stoney. 

“The Performance Review and the follow-up steps that have taken place in the last few months have been a fruitful and productive exercise for the organization,” stated Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn. “I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Stoney to strengthen the organization and help build One Richmond.”