Friday, May 15, 2015

Mayor Jones Comments on Richmond City Council Budget Vote


Mayor Dwight C. Jones today thanked Richmond City Council for their work on his proposed budget, but offered great caution concerning some of the actions taken during Council’s budget deliberations. The following statement was issued following Council’s budget vote:

“I want to thank Richmond City Council for their hard work and due diligence in thoroughly reviewing my submission of Richmond’s FY2016-FY2017 Biennial Fiscal Plans and five year Capital Improvement Program. Since coming into office, I have consistently presented balanced budgets that have addressed large deficits, have avoided layoffs and furloughs, and have provided services that resulted in minimal disruption to core city services while setting the future direction and growth for our city.

“The budget I presented to City Council brought spending in line with revenues, maintained essential services, met prior commitments and utilized sound fiscal principles, and I’m pleased that 98% of my budget remains intact. We are in agreement about many of the priorities set forth in my budget proposal. We have all worked to increase school funding, to give raises to police officers and fire fighters, and to provide employee salary increases. The Slavery and Heritage site in Shockoe Bottom continues to gain support, Riverfront improvements are protected, and funding has been maintained for significant economic development projects like Stone Brewing in Fulton.

“However, I am deeply concerned that some actions taken by City Council could take us a step backward at a time when our city is experiencing a resurgence. Using major cuts in vacancy funding as well as one-time money as a tool to balance the budget is not sound fiscal policy. It could create operational challenges that are difficult to sustain. These significant cuts seem to have been taken based on an expectation that the City will tap into reserve funds if vacancy funding cuts negatively impact service delivery.

“I want to be clear: I do not support taking reserve funds to pay for ongoing operations. Such actions will only threaten our favorable bond ratings, which if impacted will represent a major step backward for our city. This approach to budgeting is neither advisable nor sustainable.

“Nevertheless, I recognize that we have the shared responsibility to provide the leadership and the strong financial management that our residents expect and deserve. With these budget changes, we will need to make some tough decisions that will impact operations. In doing so, we will work to continue to be prudent and fiscally responsible with our limited resources. We will plan to monitor and provide periodic updates on the impacts on service delivery or other needed changes resulting from these actions.”