Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mayor, City Council and School Board Present Unified Front

~2011 legislative breakfast with state delegation lays out legislative priorities~

Richmond, VA - The City of Richmond presented its legislative priorities for the 2011 Virginia General Assembly during a breakfast meeting with members of the state delegation. This is the first year that the Mayor, City Council and Richmond Public Schools have presented a unified legislative agenda.

"The Mayor, City Council and the School Board are figuratively and literally on the same page with our legislative program," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "In order for our city to reach its fullest potential it is imperative that we as leaders of this city - Senators, Delegates, City Council and Richmond Public School Board Members - work together to meet the needs of our residents."

The City is calling for help from the state delegation in moving forward with educational opportunities for all of Richmond's children; reducing urban blight; increasing economic development; creating and retaining businesses and jobs; and investing in workforce readiness, training and development. "One of our key 'asks' today is that you protect state funding to local governments," continued Mayor Jones. "The fiscal relationship between local government and the state must remain strong, so that cities like Richmond can provide their residents with the basic services they need, like education and libraries, and police, fire and human services."

Regarding the possibility of ABC privatization, the City asked that it be given the tools through zoning and regulation to control the location and number of liquor stores if privatization were to move forward. Council President Kathy Graziano also underscored concern about any unfunded mandates and asked the delegation to work against such actions.

"Hearing one voice from the City as opposed to fragmented messages is very much appreciated," noted Delegate Jennifer McClellan. "We can see a clear difference in how the City is working together."

"In these challenging economic times, it is in the city's best interest to show a united front with established priorities," said Manoli Loupassi.

Following are the legislative requests, funding priorities, and legislative priorities as presented:

Legislative Requests
Enabling legislation for cities to establish an enhanced derelict building rehabilitation process for residential property to combat blight, crime and neighborhood decay.
Authority to establish defense manufacturing zones.
Grant the City the power, prospectively only, to authorize partial exemptions for non-profit organizations from taxes on real estate.
Allow the waiver on accrual of interest on criminal or traffic fines or costs to apply to any case of an incarcerated defendant.
Provide state income tax credit to businesses that provide employee transportation assistance.
Study to review the Composite Index in order to ensure equitable treatment of urban localities.

Funding Priorities
Public Education: Increase the current level of state funding for basic aid, at-risk programs, Virginia Preschool Initiative, and other education funding streams.
HB 599 Funding: Increase funding for state aid to localities with police departments.
General Aid to Local Governments: Increase state aid job training, job readiness training, job retention, job creation, state enterprise zone program, brownfields, mass transit, combined sewer overflow projects, juvenile & adult drug court programs and justice services.

Funding Priorities - Schools
Continue composite index “hold harmless” for additional year due to unprecedented change in Richmond’s composite index.
Protect Virginia Preschool Initiative funding.
Prevent basic aid supplanting with Federal Education Jobs Funding.
Give flexibility on unfunded Standards of Quality/Standards of Accreditation mandates.
Give flexibility on K-3 reduction funds.
Fully fund Virginia Retirement System based on actuarial requirement.

Legislative Positions
Legislation to close the “gun show loophole”.
Legislation to support Technology, Nanotechnology and Biotechnology Investment Fund.
Funding and tax incentives for “green initiatives”.
Legislation that would provide relaxation of the Dillon Rule by giving localities greater local autonomy.
Support legislation directing the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the feasibility of creating state financial incentives for localities in developing/operating facilities and services on a multi-jurisdictional or regional basis.
Support legislation that would reduce federal and state mandates when funding is reduced, so that localities are not required to spend additional local dollars to comply with those mandates.
Support continued state financial assistance for local jail construction.
Funding for alternatives to incarceration programs.
Legislation to allow localities to charge higher fees for registering vacant buildings and include derelict properties on registries.

ABC Privatization and its impact on the city of Richmond.
2010 SJR 63 – Y. Miller: Study of passenger rail operations funding.
Legislation/studies related to the school funding formula.

Any legislation that would reduce local tax authority.
Any legislation that increases mandated services without appropriate resources.
Adverse changes to the funding formula for local jail construction.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mayor Jones Statement on Marcus Jones

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement concerning Marcus Jones, deputy chief administrative officer for Finance, and his appointment as city manager for the city of Norfolk.

"Marcus Jones' appointment to the role of city manager for the city of Norfolk is bittersweet for me. When I recruited Marcus to Richmond, I knew what a great talent we were bringing to our city. The work that he has done over the past 16 months has met or surpassed every expectation that I had. Marcus has the ability to build organizations and get the best performance from his staff. In the area of finance, he was able to curtail the use of costly consultants and restructure operations with city employees. Under his leadership, staff implemented programs that have resulted in significant budget savings. Marcus is a unique talent and it would be natural for my good friend, Mayor Paul Fraim, to lure him back. This is clearly an important move for Marcus' career, and he deserves this opportunity to ascend to the city manager role. I know that it was a difficult decision for him to make, as he has been a key member of my leadership team and we've all established strong working relationships with one another. However, it would be selfish of us to try to hold him back. We will deeply miss him as a part of our inside team but we will be rooting for his every success and even bigger accomplishments going forward."

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Mayor Cites Taxpayer Costs and Conditions at the Jail as Drivers for Moving Jail Project Forward Now

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement reiterating plans to build a new jail at the current site:

“A modern and humane jail is critical for our City and is long overdue. We have given adequate attention and consideration to varying ideas for a jail. Now we must work against the city’s plans for a new jail being held hostage by competing political interests and indecisiveness. It was our duty to consider whether alternative proposals would likely save both time and money and we’ve done that. It is clear now that delay will only serve to cost taxpayers additional money and leave existing conditions in place that have for too long gone unaddressed.

“In order to improve safety and other conditions, a new jail has to be built as quickly as practicable. The current facility on Fairfield Way offers the clearest opportunity to build quickly and effectively. The fact that the city owns the land will keep costs down for the taxpayer and help avoid further scheduling delays. Additionally, the existing site avoids the need for any new environmental impact studies saving yet more costs and time and possible remediation expenditures that would be associated with a new site.

“When we began moving forward with plans for a new jail and a model for alternatives to incarceration over a year ago, we worked to ensure adequate opportunities for community input. We hosted three tours to other cities to research the operation of their facilities and programs, and the community has had an opportunity to offer input on the location of the jail through two budget cycles now. The City Council has voted affirmatively on the current site four times. The consideration of a variety of proposals has served to inform the decision about moving forward on the existing site and has underscored that the existing site is the most cost-effective and timely approach.

“What we must do now is continue to work to ensure that the new jail is not only an improvement for the population that it serves and the brave men and women who work there, but also for the surrounding community. The existing site will be approached in a way that improves the aesthetics of the community surrounding the jail. We envision the new facility having the appearance of an office complex and not a jail. There will also be no visible barbed wire fencing and the jail will be architecturally and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

“Finally, it is imperative that we readily pursue alternatives to the incarceration of nonviolent individuals. Alternative programming is to be implemented over the next two years while the jail is being constructed. These alternatives will ultimately move us forward with reducing the jail population and lowering the costs of jail operations.

“This Administration is serious about change and the need to develop comprehensive solutions to the challenges we face. This is not a time to further stall forward movement on this pressing need and we are confident that the existing site is the most workable site and in the city’s overall best interest.”

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