Richmond City Council passed the city’s 2012-2013 Biennial Fiscal Plan and Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) during its formal meeting tonight. Mayor Dwight C. Jones has provided the following comments on the budget’s passage:
"I thank Richmond City Council for working with my team in reviewing and passing the city’s 2012-2013 biennial budget. Richmond City Council has kept changes to my proposed budget to about 1/10 of one percent for the third year in a row; representative of how we are working together to benefit City residents. This budget is sustainable and is structurally balanced. The enormous costs of the country's financial crisis and lagging economy have continued to force hard choices, but for the third consecutive year, we have not raised taxes, there have been no furloughs or layoffs, and we have not interrupted core services.
“This budget continues our commitment to education as $124 million is included for schools, plus an agreement that the School System will keep the $6 million project fund balance from this fiscal year – to use next fiscal year. Our commitment to schools also is continued in the CIP which includes $6 million for continuing our ADA compliance efforts and includes $52.5 million in School construction projects. This constitutes the greatest commitment of all in the two-year CIP.
“These have been lean times, and it is important that we provide for our hard-working employees. Using the rates calculated by the Richmond Retirement System, we fully fund the required annual contribution to the pension fund, and Council even increased that by $500,000. We have provided a consistent health insurance plan, and in our second year of combining City and School employees in a single plan, we will be fully self-insured as of July 1; which is one year faster than we projected when we combined the two systems in 2010. This budget absorbs the employees’ and retirees’ shares of the increased cost of health insurance. And, we have provided for a $1,000 bonus for each eligible full-time City employee who has been with us for at least one year and included a 1% bonus per eligible employee for RPS employees.
“The budget includes funding for a satellite one-stop job referral and workforce development site at the former Richmond Nursing Home facility on Cool Lane in the city’s East End. Year two of the budget allows for the opening of a child care facility to help parents seeking training and jobs. We have $400,000 for enterprise zones, and $200,000 for the CARE program, to make façade and other improvements in several areas – and this is in the face of budget cuts from HUD.
“We are moving forward with a Mental Health docket and the electronic monitoring of non-violent offenders as we seek to reduce the inmate population at the city jail by moving individuals who don’t need to be there. We are also moving forward with construction of our new Justice Center.
“This budget allows us to assist the Virginia Treatment Center for Children with a new Children’s Mental Health Resource Center, to ensure families receive help in getting the right assessments for their needy children. Right now, too many parents struggle to get help for their children in an incredibly complex network of providers.
“Infrastructure continues to be a major priority for my administration as this budget provides funding to pave 130 lane miles of streets this year, with a cumulative total of 30 percent of City streets paved by 2014. For sidewalks, the CIP includes $1.25 million for sidewalk projects to repair hazardous conditions, and add sidewalks as requested. And, for our cyclists, we have provided $250,000 in each of the next two years for 80 miles of sharrows for sharing roads with cars and bicycles.
“And all of this has been part of a practical budget, and I think it is important to note that we are planning for the future by setting extra reserves this year to help with spike in debt service costs due to school debt coming online in FY 13. We will also see significant savings through the replacement of vehicles with cash in an effort to reduce borrowing. And, we are taking steps to reduce our debt service in the future by paying the costs of the debt issuance with cash and by re-financing higher interest rate debt.”