Thursday, May 17, 2018

Richmond Accepts the First Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families


Video: Mayor speaks about the Challenge 
 
Mayor Levar Stoney recently accepted the First Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families (SMVF). The Mayor’s Challenge is a strategic process to help communities develop, implement and measure comprehensive suicide prevention efforts. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) host the Mayor’s Challenge at the Federal level. Richmond is one of just eight cities including Albuquerque, NM; Billings, MT; Helena, MT; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; and Phoenix, AZ participating. These first eight cities completed a Policy Academy held in Washington, DC on March 14 - 16, 2018. 

“This is an excellent goal for the City of Richmond and an important opportunity for our city to support our active duty military and veterans,” said Mayor Stoney. “To be one of just eight cities selected in the country and the only locality in Virginia allows Richmond to be a leader in the fight to prevent these tragic loses,” said Mayor Stoney.

This week, Mayor Stoney met with the River City Warriors, an interagency team of federal, state and local partners working to prevent suicide among military service members and veterans in Richmond and Central Virginia. With technical assistance provided by the VA, SAMHSA and SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans and their Families Technical Assistance Center, the River City Warriors’ “Richmond team” developed a strategic action plan to reduce suicides using a comprehensive public health approach. With a commitment to action steps such as “implement asking the question ‘Have you ever served’” and “develop consistent suicide prevention media messaging,” Richmond is leading the way for additional localities in the Commonwealth to join in the challenge.

For more information on the Mayor’s Challenge, please contact Brandi Jancaitis at (540) 558-8415 orbrandi.jancaitis@dbhds.virginia.gov.

For information on health and wellness resources in Richmond and Central Virginia including suicide prevention, visitbewellva.com or view SAMHSA’s suicide prevention efforts. 

Click here to read more about veteran suicide.

Military Service Members or Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide – and those who know someone in crisis – can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Call (800) 273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

City’s Biennial Budget Passes


Lean, fiscally responsible spending plan includes significant investments in the whole child, core priorities.


Mayor Levar M. Stoney this evening applauded passage of the FY2019 and FY2020 biennial budget by Richmond City Council.

“This is a values-based, fiscally responsible plan that invests in and improves upon our targeted priorities: core services, public safety, poverty mitigation and education,” said Mayor Stoney.

“I am particularly proud of the roughly $40 million we have dedicated in this spending plan toward meeting the needs of the whole child through investments in our Office of Community Wealth Building, Human Resources, Social Services, Parks and Recreation and the Richmond Public Library System.
 
“I thank Richmond City Council for their hard work and due diligence in meeting our shared responsibility to provide our residents with the strong financial management they expect and deserve, and for approving a plan that sets us on a sound fiscal path for continued growth and future success,” the mayor added.

Mayor Stoney further expressed gratitude to council members for not making a single cut to his budget priorities. “We proposed a thoughtful but lean budget – many of our departments will have to do more with less, but I am confident they will be up to the task,” said the mayor.

“I now look forward to working with our public, private and non-profit communities to leverage these investments for the benefit of all our residents.”

The FY2019 budget takes effect July 1 this year. The following are a few of the highlights from the adopted budget:
 

  • $150 million for Richmond Public Schools construction
  • More than $1.2 million for after school programs and student support services at Richmond elementary and middle schools
  • 1 million to pave an additional 20 lane miles of neighborhood streets
  • More than $630,000 to extend hours of operation at six Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facility sites throughout the city
  • Free bus passes for every Richmond public high school student
  • More than a $250,000 increase in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • A reduction in the water rate for single family residential customers
  • A $733,000 increase for the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority
  • Four weeks of paid maternity leave for birth mothers and four weeks of paid parental bonding leave for the birth/adoption of a child (City of Richmond employees) and 2 weeks of leave to care for a sick parent
  • A one percent salary increase for non-sworn, non-constitutional officer employees effective January of 2019
  • Reinvestment of $12.5 million in Richmond Public Schools
  • $3.4 million to further the FY2018 step based, pay raises for both sworn police and firefighters
  • New Richmond Police Department positions to serve public housing communities

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

City’s Fleet Division Designated One of the Best in the Americas - Division Makes Top 100 List


For the past several years the Department of Public Works Fleet Management Division has been steadily climbing the ranks of pre-eminent fleet operations in North and South America. This year it was rated 23rd on The 100 Best Fleets in the Americas, as published in Governing Magazine. 

Each year The 100 Best Fleets makes its selections from among more than 38,000 public fleets in North America and thousands more in South America. This year’s award symbolizes the strides taken since 2015, when the Fleet Management Division received Honorable Mention. It did not make the list in 2016; but ranked 66th in 2017. It increased its standing by 43 this year.  

The Fleet Management Division maintains and services approximately 2400 units of City vehicles and equipment. Approximately 1,200 maintenance work orders are completed monthly to ensure the maximum safety and lifespan of each vehicle.

The division also holds the Blue Seal of Excellence certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). 

For more information on city services, visit www.RichmondGov.com



Thursday, April 26, 2018

Richmond Public Utilities Department Announces New Director


Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is pleased to announce Calvin D. Farr Jr. as the new director of the City of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU). 


Mr. Farr was selected for the position after an extensive national search. Farr is a successful professional engineer and senior level project manager. He previously served as the Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management for the City of Atlanta, GA. He holds an Executive Masters of Public Management from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Masters of Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Old Dominion University. He will begin his work with Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities in late May, 2018.
 

Mr. Farr has 21 years of utility industry and government experience. He brings a wealth of understanding of capital improvements, maintenance practices, asset management and environmental compliance in the utility industry. He is a leader in developing and implementing programs to address and improve infrastructure issues faced nationally by utility companies. 

In his role as DPU director, Mr. Farr will oversee five utilities that include natural gas, water, wastewater, stormwater and electric street lighting.  


“Calvin will be a great asset to the City of Richmond and DPU,” said Mayor Stoney. “He stood out to the selection committee because of his professionalism, experience and passion to protect the environment and provide good customer service.” 

Rosemary Green, DPU’s current interim director has done a stellar job of keeping the DPU ship on course.  Once Mr. Farr takes the reins, Ms. Green will return to her previous role as Deputy Director II.   


“I’m truly honored to be selected as the new DPU Director and excited by the challenges and opportunities that DPU faces,” said Mr. Farr.  “I look forward to helping shape and implement strategy to continue to provide premier utility service that meets or exceeds Richmond’s goals, a city I have always loved.”   


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Richmond Named Host City of the 2020 International Menuhin Competition


The City of Richmond has been selected as the host city for the international Menuhin Competition 2020, often billed as, “The Olympics of the Violin,” it is the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. 

A delegation led by Mayor Levar M. Stoney, University of Richmond (UR) First Lady Dr. Betty Crutcher, Richmond Symphony Executive Director David J.L. Fisk, Interim Music Department Chair for Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Dr. James Wiznerowicz and VP/GM for TV for Commonwealth Public Broadcasting (WCVE) John Felton joined competition organizers in Geneva, Switzerland over the weekend for the announcement of Richmond’s winning bid from the stage of Victoria Hall during the closing gala concert of the Menuhin Competition Geneva 2018 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

“We are thrilled to be hosting the International Menuhin Competition and honored to join the company of such distinguished international destinations like Geneva in welcoming the most talented young musicians in the world to our city,” said Mayor Stoney.

“Richmond is a thriving and diverse city that is home to a number of internationally-recognized artistic, educational and cultural attractions,” the Mayor continued. “Our vibrant and dedicated arts community looks forward to welcoming these artists and their families in 2020.”

The competition will take place May 14 - 24, 2020 in venues throughout the city, including the Modlin Center for the Arts at UR, the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts at VCU and the Carpenter Theatre at the Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts. 

Throughout the competition, 44 of the best young violinists in the world will compete for top awards in performances ranging from solo recitals to concerts with chamber groups and full orchestra. While the Richmond Symphony will be the primary accompanying orchestra for the festival, the Sphinx Virtuosi ensemble - made up exclusively of 18 of the top young Black and Latino classical musicians - will also participate in accompanying the Junior Finals and in performances and workshops with local public schools.

Named after the famed violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, the 11-day festival attracts the greatest young violinists under the age of 22 from around the world to compete in recitals and chamber concerts, including showcase performances with the Richmond Symphony. Competitors are judged by a jury of some of the world’s most celebrated musicians who also perform in recitals and other concerts throughout the festival.

A full schedule of competition events and activities will be released at a later date.

For more information about the Menuhin Competition visit: menuhincompetition.org




Tuesday, April 3, 2018

City Lowers Purchased Gas Cost


Beginning with May 2018 utility bills, Richmond Gas Works customers will see a savings on their monthly natural gas bill.  The cost for purchased natural gas (PGC) will decrease from its current $0.525 per 100 cubic feet (1 Ccf) to $0.400, an estimated savings of $8.75 monthly to the average natural gas customer.  At the date of this release other components of the natural gas bill – the distribution charge at $.552 and customer charge at $12.98 – are unchanged.     



The PGC rate of the average residential customer who uses 70 Ccf’s of natural gas per month will pay approximately $79.62 compared to a current bill of $88.37.  This equates to a 23.8 percent reduction in the PGC rate charged by Richmond Gas works and an overall ten (10) percent reduction in the entire natural gas bill.  Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney attributes the decrease to impending warmer weather in our area and the downward pressure on natural gas prices.     




DPU Interim Director Rosemary Green says, “This is good news for our customers! We are always heartened when market conditions allow us to lower rates and pass on the savings. By law, we pass along the cost of natural gas purchased and delivered to customers, dollar for dollar, without any markup.”  Utility analysts review the PGC on a monthly basis and make recommendations for adjustments as needed based on market and weather conditions and other related factors. At the time of this release, the Richmond Gas Works’ PGC rate is less than or equal to surrounding natural gas franchises.


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.     

The City offers free information and programs year-round to help customers manage their utility bills and seek assistance before bills become unmanageable.  Utility customers are encouraged to enroll in the Equal Monthly Payment Plan (EMPP), a program designed to spread payments out evenly each month or to apply for the MetroCare Heat Program, a heating bill payment assistance program for those who qualify.   


More information about EMPP and other programs is available by emailing dpucustserv@RichmondGov.com, calling (804) 646-4646 or visiting http://www.richmondgov.com/PublicUtilities/EqualMonthlyPaymentPlan.aspx.



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.