Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on Conclusion of Independent Investigation

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement concerning the findings issued today by Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney:

“The report issued this morning found no criminal wrongdoing by me or members of my administration. More than 10 months ago, I requested an independent investigation into concerns raised about the separation between my administration and First Baptist Church of South Richmond. I cooperated extensively in the investigation to ensure any concerns were carefully examined and dispelled. After thoroughly reviewing my email, examining City and church records, and interviewing scores of witnesses, the investigation determined that no laws were violated. I was confident my administration strictly adhered to the law, and I am pleased, but not surprised, the Virginia State Police and Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney agree. Although the investigation took longer than expected, it was thorough and conclusive, and I am glad it is behind us."


Friday, November 18, 2016

City Upgrading Parking Pay Stations with Two New Payment Options


Enhanced technology is in the works for the City's nearly 160 solar-powered parking pay stations that will enable motorists to pay using their license plate information. Motorists will also be able to extend the time on the pay station by mobile text message.

The Pay-by-Plate option will take effect on January 2, 2017. Those using pay stations can enter their license plate number directly into the machine when they pay. The system will save the information for parking enforcement officers. This helps streamline the process by eliminating the need to print a ticket and place it on the dashboard. However, receipts can still be printed for those who want them.

In addition, there also will be an Extend-by-Phone option. The driver will receive a text message notification when the parking space time is running out. As long as there is time available within the posted time zone, more time can be added via text message.

Benefits for the City and motorists include:
  • Reduced paper usage, which is environmentally friendly and could cut costs by $25,000 annually 
  • Streamlined parking experience – no trip back to the car to display the printed receipt, or to renew parking (when text renewal option is used)
  • Anticipated overall lower downtime and maintenance costs
  • Anticipated reduction of customer calls by as much as 50 percent
Payment options are still coins, bills or debit/credit cards.

The City will educate the public to help ensure a smooth transition to these new technology options. Educational materials will be available for the public and "Meter Greeters" will be stationed at selected new installation sites. Staff will be trained to maintain and service the stations.

To view a demonstration on how to use the new Pay-by-Plate, click here.

For more information on City services, Pay-by-Plate and Extend-by-Phone, visit
www.RichmondGov.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The City of Richmond Successfully Enters the Bond Market - Saves $100 Million


The City of Richmond successfully sold $502 million in Public Utility Revenue and Refunding Bonds of which $169 million was for new money projects and $333 million was to refund existing debt service for interest rate savings.

The cost of funds for the City’s New Money Projects was approximately 3.47%, which is near the lowest cost of funds in several decades. In addition, 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 $100 million over the next 24 years.

The Bonds were highly rated by all three national credit rating agencies - Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch (Aa2, AA, AA respectively).

Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Raymond James and Siebert Cisneros Shank served as underwriters on the financing. Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Raymond James have offices in Richmond. Siebert Cisneros Shank is based out of New York and is the nation’s largest minority owned bond underwriting firm.

“These extraordinary savings underscore the confidence that investors have in owning a piece of Richmond’s future,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.  “Additionally, as a result of the savings, we’ll be able to help offset operating costs and ongoing debt service related to these transactions.”  

David Rose, Senior Vice President and Manager of Public Finance at Davenport & Company LLC, the City’s Financial Advisor, said “As best we can determine, the level of debt service savings is unprecedented for a Virginia Local Government.”

The City’s Director of Public Utilities, Bob Steidel, commented, “The City’s Utility System has experienced consistent credit rating upgrades over the past several years. As a result, the level of savings has been augmented because our credit worthiness has increased.”

“Today’s results serve to confirm that the City’s Utility System is well run and well respected by major investors,” said Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn. “We recognize there is no way this result could have occurred unless that was the case.”


Thursday, November 10, 2016

City & Radio One Kick-off 2016 Toy Drive


The most vulnerable among Richmond’s less fortunate are children, and on November 10, Mayor Dwight C. Jones helped kick off the City of Richmond and Radio One Holiday Toy Drive.

"We have so many things that we take for granted, but the intangibles of life are the most important. And what could be greater than to put a smile on a child's face? We have that opportunity," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys, books and clothing are being requested and will be accepted at any City fire station, the Department of Social Services Marshall Street Plaza (900 East Marshall Street), Southside Community Services Center (4100 Hull Street Road), East District Initiative (701 North 25th Street) or at City Hall (900 East Broad Street). Donations will be accepted until 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 8.

In support of the Toy Drive, all Radio One Richmond DJ’s will broadcast live from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on December 6 at the Walmart in Short Pump, and December 7 and 8 at the south Richmond Walmart at 2410 Sheila Lane to “PACK THE PODS” with donations of new unwrapped toys for children ages newborn to 17. Other drop off locations will be announced on iPower92.1FM, Praise104.7FM and KISS-FM 99.3/105.7FM.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Monroe Park Conservancy, VCU and major donors break ground on $6 million Monroe Park renovation


Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones today joined representatives from the Monroe Park Conservancy, Virginia Commonwealth University and major donors to break ground on a $6 million extensive renovation of Monroe Park.

"This park has a long history and has always served as an important hub in our city," stated Mayor Jones. "Working in partnership with the Monroe Park Conservancy group and VCU to restore the park’s luster is an opportunity that we’ve embraced with great enthusiasm. We thank all of those contributing to help us reach our goal for the park’s restoration, building on our efforts to provide beautiful open and sustainable spaces that improve Richmond communities."

The park will be closed during renovation beginning Monday, Nov. 14, and the work is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. The project will include extensive infrastructure upgrades to underground sewer, gas, water and electrical systems. The first five-week phase of construction will focus on arbor care. Park light poles and fixtures will be removed, stored and recycled in other parks. Park benches will be removed and saved.

When the 8-acre park reopens, it will be fully sustainable, with a goal of mitigating water runoff, and will include the installation of LED lighting and native plants.

“Monroe Park will continue to be a place that is welcoming to everyone — a green, urban living room” said Alice Massie, president of the Monroe Park Conservancy that has led the renovation effort.

Supporters said a revitalized Monroe Park will be a vibrant, urban oasis for nearby residents and for VCU faculty, staff and students. VCU has committed to provide maintenance of the renovated park.

“We are very excited to work with our partners from the City of Richmond, the private sector and the Monroe Park Conservancy to bring this project to fruition and ensure its success,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “Richmond is our home and Monroe Park is a major asset for our city and for our university.”

The renovation of Richmond’s oldest city park was made possible through the successful completion of a multi-year $3 million private fundraising campaign. Altria and the Dominion Foundation each provided $500,000 in support of the project.

“Monroe Park has been a landmark in the heart of the City of Richmond for generations,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion chairman, president and CEO. “This green space, once renovations are complete, will add to the vitality of the community, benefiting students, nearby residents, businesses and visitors to downtown. Dominion is privileged to play a role in reconstruction of this historic urban setting.”

Also, a major gift from The Beirne Carter Foundation will support sustainability and safety improvements at the park.

Under a 30-year lease agreement that City Council approved in March 2014, the non-profit Conservancy will operate the park following the City’s completion of the renovation. The Conservancy will steward the park in a partnership agreement with the city, ensuring that it remains a public park with access for all. This is a common practice nationally, including Central Park in New York and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Richmond’s Maymont Park operates through a similar arrangement.

Organizations that support the homeless, including Homeward and the United Way urge those interested in providing food or clothing to the homeless or those in need of food or clothing to call 2-1-1 for assistance while the park is closed. 

History of Monroe Park
Established in 1851, Monroe Park is Richmond’s oldest park and one of the capital city’s most culturally and environmentally significant open spaces. Once a state fairground and later a military encampment, the registered historic park now provides passage and respite to VCU students, as well as residents of Carver, Oregon Hill, and the Fan.

Forming the western edge of the City’s downtown grid, Monroe Park is bounded by Belvidere Street to the east, Main Street to the south, and Laurel and Franklin Streets to the west and north. It is often considered the front yard of Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and the newly-renovated Altria Theater.  VCU’s expansion of the Business and Engineering Schools and nearby dormitories has significantly altered the context and use of the Park. Such a shift offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform the Park into a vibrant, urban oasis.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

City FY15 CAFR Submitted


The City of Richmond’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal year (FY) ended June 30, 2015, was submitted on October 31, 2016. The external certified public accounting firm that audited the City’s basic financial statements rendered an unmodified opinion stating that the City’s financial statements are fairly presented and conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The FY15 CAFR also shows an increase to the unassigned fund balance of $4.6 million.

“Given the challenges that we have faced recently with timely reporting, it is affirming to have the CAFR again confirm our strong financial position and verify a surplus in operations for the Fiscal Year 2015,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I am more confident than ever in the personnel that we have assembled for our financial operations. Now that we have closed this chapter on FY15 with a clean opinion, we will be moving forward aggressively to have the FY16 CAFR completed as quickly as possible and to set future CAFR’s on track for consistent timely reporting.”

The mayor noted that the preparation of the FY15 CAFR report could not have been accomplished without the dedicated services of the entire staff of the City’s Department of Finance. The CAFR shows that the City has also exceeded its Fund Balance Guidelines, which require that the Unassigned Fund Balance reaches at least 10 percent of the General Fund expenditures. The Unassigned Fund Balance, as a percent of the Adopted General Fund Budget, is presently at 12.1%.  Given the healthy Unassigned Fund Balance and confirmed surplus, Mayor Jones has indicated that he is optimistic that any available resources can be invested in the city workforce.

The FY 2015 CAFR is available online at www.Richmondgov.com, http://www.richmondgov.com/Finance/documents/2015cafr.pdf


Monday, October 24, 2016

Mayor Jones Welcomes CoStar Group to Downtown


Mayor Dwight C. Jones welcomed CoStar Group to downtown Richmond during a press conference held with Governor Terry McAuliffe today.  The Governor announced that CoStar Group, the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplaces, will invest $8.17 million in a new research and software development center in Richmond. Virginia successfully competed against states in the Southeast and Midwest for the project, which will create 732 new jobs and have a total economic impact of $250 million.

“We are thrilled to welcome CoStar Group to Virginia and to our capital city,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at the event. “This will be a transformational project for the City of Richmond and the greater metropolitan area, bringing a new, high-profile corporate partner and more than 700 high-paying jobs. With our outstanding technology infrastructure and our unparalleled higher education system, the Commonwealth is a hub for the IT sector and the perfect home for CoStar’s research operation. Today is a huge milestone for Richmond and for our efforts to diversify and build a new Virginia economy.”

“The fact that CoStar, the world’s leader in commercial real estate information, has chosen the City of Richmond as the location of its new research headquarters, says a lot about the quality of our workforce and our real estate,” said City of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. “The company’s 732 new, full-time employees, working in the heart of our central business district along the James River, will bring additional life to an increasingly thriving downtown. We look forward to partnering with CoStar through our Office of Community Wealth Building workforce programs and our multi-modal transportation initiatives to immediately promote new, high-quality jobs to our city’s residents that will be available early calendar year 2017.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Richmond and the Greater Richmond Partnership to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $4 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund (COF) to assist Richmond with the project. CoStar Group is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

For the $4 million grant the City receives from the COF, the City will provide the required local match through local Enterprise Zone incentives, public transportation improvements, installation of a bike share station, Business Professional Occupational License (BPOL) tax relief, and job training and recruitment assistance.

“CoStar is excited to become an essential business partner to the city of Richmond and the state of Virginia,” said Andrew Florance, CoStar Founder and Chief Executive Officer.  “This is an opportunity that allows us to expand our research and software development capabilities in a city that provides a highly educated labor pool, a superior quality of life for our employees and a culture that aligns to our business model.”

Founded in 1987, CoStar Group is the leading provider of commercial real estate information and marketplaces combining research, technology and powerful marketing to connect commercial real estate professionals with the data, insights, networking and leads they need to succeed. Their suite of brands includes CoStar, Apartments.com. LoopNet, LandsofAmerica and BizBuySell to name a few, and together it serves as the primary source of business intelligence and communities that fuel the real estate industry. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., CoStar maintains offices throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Canada with a staff of approximately 3,000 worldwide, including the industry’s largest professional research organization.