Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mayor Increases Schools Maintenance Funding, Proposes Parking Enterprise Fund, Rejects Stormwater Increase

Click here to view the FY15 Proposed Budget online.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today presented his administration’s FY2015 Budget Amendments and the 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for FY 2015 – 2019.

The budget was crafted based on current revenue projections, which include revenues from the real estate tax rate, which is proposed to remain the same at $1.20 per $100 of valuation. The total proposed spending plans for the General Fund are $777,340,828 for FY2015 and $237,240,841 for the Capital Improvement Plan.

“This is a solid and fiscally conservative budget,” said Mayor Jones. “Consistent with our debt policies, the City’s Rainy Day/Unassigned Fund Balance has grown to 10% of our general fund and Richmond Public Schools state-supported expenditures.” The Mayor also spoke about the city’s intention to absorb increased health insurance costs for City employees who are facing an 8.4% rate increase this year. “This will be the second year in a row the City will absorb all premium increases on behalf of employees.”

Mayor Jones’ plan calls for an increase for schools maintenance funding from $500,000 per year to $18.2 million over five years, beginning with $5 million in FY 2015. “We know we must work to maintain learning environments that support the highest quality education standards available to our students, and this increased investment will improve the function and operational efficiency of the facilities in our school system. We are also proposing to provide the school system with a $1 million more than last year to bring their local funding to $155.9 million in FY2015. In addition, a total of $7.3 million is proposed for the M.L. King Jr., Middle School Pre-K facility.”

Jones proposed a Parking Enterprise Fund that will be self-supporting through the collection of fees associated with operating the City’s parking lots and parking decks. The establishment of this enterprise fund will result in a net savings of $1.9 million to the General Fund. Removal of all parking related revenues and expenditures from the General Fund means the General Fund can accommodate an additional $65 million in much-needed debt capacity.

Mayor Jones rejected a recommended increase in Stormwater fees. “I’m rejecting that recommendation at this time and asking for additional work to be done to determine how we can meet federally mandated water quality requirements,” Jones said. “The analysis suggests that we need to find an additional $9.4 million to do the work necessary to remain in compliance with these new federal standards. I want to underscore, however, that even though I am rejecting this now, we will have to catch up financially in our next budget presentation if viable alternatives are not found.”

The Mayor also underscored those efforts in his budget that tie in with his anti-poverty focus. Acknowledging an estimated $194 million in existing programs that relate to addressing poverty, the Mayor also recommended an additional $2.3 million to support the recommendations of the Maggie L. Walker Anti-Poverty Task Force and an additional $1 million yearly for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.