Thursday, August 9, 2018

City and RPS Administration Complete Review of Richmond Public Schools Capital Maintenance and Construction Accounts



The City of Richmond’s Department of Budget and Strategic Planning and Richmond Public Schools Finance staffs have completed a preliminary reconciliation of all RPS managed capital projects through the end of the 2018 fiscal year.  



As of June 30, RPS Capital Project Accounts have the following balances:


●      Schools Capital Maintenance (Award #500492)                    $ 5,119,182
●      Schools Capital Maintenance – Cash (Award #500840)           2,650,109
●      High School Athletic Facilities (Award #500493)                          568,000
●      Schools ADA Compliance (Award #500495)                                975,866
●      Schools Bus Lease (Award #500863)                                          771,093

                                                                                             Total: $10,084,251

The June 30th balance in the School CIP Planning and Construction is $12,235,946.

These balances are in addition to the $1.6 million Mayor Stoney included in the FY19 budget for RPS maintenance, and the $150 million investment the administration has made in new schools construction.

School Board Chairwoman Dawn Page said the reconciliation provides greater clarity to the resources available to RPS.


“The School Board welcomed the discussion to reconcile the funding sources between the city and Richmond Public Schools,” said Board Chairwoman Dawn Page. “We appreciate the collaboration with the city toward a common goal of providing a welcoming and enriched learning environment for the students and families we serve. This certainty will allow us to develop a plan of action and to request the necessary budget amendments to address the most pressing needs of the school district.”

“I look forward to the school board’s decisions on how to utilize these funds, and to working with them to advance the necessary amendments to Council,” said Mayor Stoney. “Having a clear accounting of these funds will help us provide better maintained facilities and positive learning environments to help our children achieve their potential.”


“When we work together, our kids win. Having clarity on these numbers is enormously helpful. I want to thank my team as well as the city’s for working so diligently on this,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras.



For more information on Richmond Public Schools, please contact Kenita Bowers at kbowers@rvaschools.net or call (804) 780 – 7100.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Richmond Receives Enhanced Credit Rating Outlook


This week, Moody’s revised upward its credit rating outlook for the City of Richmond, from “stable” to “positive,” and reaffirmed the city’s credit rating of “Aa2,” citing strong trajectories in the city’s finances and growing economy. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch also both reaffirmed their “AA+” credit ratings, which are considered highly rated and are just one notch below “AAA,” the highest possible rating attainable.

Following the visit last month to New York by Mayor Stoney and city administration leaders, Richmond received reaffirmation of its credit ratings from all three agencies in connection with its upcoming general obligation bond issuance. Richmond has once again been designated as “AAA” for Operating Performance by Fitch Ratings.

“I am encouraged that just 15 months after presenting our key accomplishments and progress to these rating agencies, Moody’s has issued this revised, ‘positive’ outlook, reaffirming the city’s improved and solid financial standing and upward trajectory,” said Mayor Stoney. “These strong ratings will save the city millions of dollars in borrowing that can be used to fund core priorities like schools and public safety.”

Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn added, “The city’s revised credit rating outlook has been accomplished with the tireless efforts of our finance staff. We are trending with strong operating results and an improved financial position due also to our large and growing tax base.”

David Rose of Davenport & Co. reaffirmed as much, saying, “Moody’s was clearly impressed by the mayor’s bold vision for the city and key accomplishments of the past 15 months. This upward revision to a ‘positive’ outlook reflects the continued strong momentum in Richmond’s financial performance, economy and tax base.”

In connection with these recent ratings, the city anticipates selling approximately $57 million of tax-exempt and taxable general obligation bonds for general capital and economic development projects by the end of July.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Mayor Stoney Announces Release of Monument Avenue Commission Report


The Monument Avenue Commission has completed a yearlong review and public engagement process examining the Confederate statuary of Monument Avenue and submitted its report to Mayor Levar M. Stoney. As promised, the full report submitted to the mayor is available to the public and can be found on the website, monumentavenuecommission.org

The 117-page report, prepared by the 10-member Commission appointed in June 2017, is a thorough review of history, recent events, public engagement and research on the Confederate monuments that, as the Commission report states, has “been a source of pride and shame for the City’s residents since the time of their installations.” The report concludes with series of options recommended for consideration by city officials that suggest ways given the current legal climate in Virginia, “to determine how best to reconcile a particular landscape viewed as both sacred and profane.”

“Given all we have heard, read and learned, the Commission strongly endorses a comprehensive approach that creates an environment (and City) that celebrates the contributions of many diverse groups and acknowledges the darker chapters of the City’s past,” states the report, which was compiled by Commission co-chairs Christy S. Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum, and Dr. Gregg D. Kimball, Director of Education and Outreach for the Library of Virginia.

“In the course of the work, it became abundantly clear the majority of the public acknowledges Monument Avenue cannot and should not remain exactly as it is. Change is needed and desired. The public offered many fascinating ideas, and the majority seemed to favor a multi-faceted approach.”

The Monument Avenue Commission does not have legal authority and its report is not binding on city government. But the commissioners recommend a number of options and opportunities for the administration and city officials to explore for Monument Avenue. Among them:

  • Adding permanent signage that reflects the historic, biographical, artistic and changing meaning over time for each monument, to be drafted by prominent academic historians subject to approval by the Public Art or Planning Commissions.
  • Creating a permanent exhibit that takes a deeper historical look into the history of the monuments, creating a mobile app and new film and video features that ensure the narrative about Monument Avenue is “consistent and historically accurate.”
  • Engage Richmond’s arts community to create “new contemporary artistic works that bring new and expanded meaning” to Monument Avenue.
  • Commission a monument that commemorates the resilience of the formerly enslaved, such as a work dedicated to soldiers of the United States Colored Troops.
  • Pending the outcome of current litigation or changes in state law, remove the Jefferson Davis monument and repurpose the site for a new monument. “Of all the statues, this one is most unabashedly Lost Cause in its design and sentiment,” the commissioners wrote.
“A holistic narrative acknowledges the emotional realities the Monument Avenue statues represent as well as other assets within the City,” the report states. “The options presented will require coordination between various groups within City government (Planning Commission and the Public Arts Commission) and – equally important – groups outside of it to implement the recommendations. The Commission also acknowledges one of the options will require a closer examination of existing law, outcomes of pending litigation and legislative action.”

In addition to research on the history of Virginia’s Monument Avenue, prevailing law and recent events, the report also includes data gathered through public engagement.
“We’d like to thank Mayor Stoney for convening this commission and for his faith in its members, and thank the residents of the City of Richmond for engaging with us throughout this important process,” Coleman and Kimball said in a joint statement. “It’s been an honor to serve.”

The convening of the commission, public engagement process and extensive research to produce the report marked the first time in more than 50 years that the City of Richmond has conducted a comprehensive review of Monument Avenue’s Confederate statues. During this process, the Commission received more than 1,800 letters and emails and solicited feedback from more than 1,200 people in public forums. Commission members, all volunteers, were not compensated and spent their own time and money to participate in the work of the Commission.

“On behalf of the City of Richmond, I want thank the members of the Monument Avenue Commission their service, and for taking on this responsibility at an important time in the life of our city and our nation,” said Mayor Stoney. “We are deeply grateful for their dedication, hard work and steadfastness to meeting the challenges of completing this task, which I consider to be a necessary step toward moving the city forward on this difficult issue and down a continued path of reconciliation and healing. I am especially thankful to Commission co-chairs Christy Coleman and Dr. Gregg Kimball for their countless hours and expertise in leading this distinguished group of scholars, historians and local public officials to promote a civil, civic conversation and expand our collective understanding of our history -- past, present and future.”

Mayor Stoney said he will take time to further study the report and urged others to do the same. 

 “Richmond has a long, complex and conflicted history, and the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue represents a shameful part of our past,” Mayor Stoney said. “As I have said before, the statues on this beautiful street are Lost Cause myth and deception masquerading as history. They are monuments to Jim Crow that do not reflect the qualities of inclusivity, tolerance and equality we celebrate as values in our city today. The Commission’s report is unequivocal in its affirmation that there is an overwhelming desire and belief they should not remain as they currently are. Something needs to change, and I could not agree more.”

A public presentation of the report to City Council by co-chairs Coleman and Kimball will be scheduled later this summer.

“This conversation will undoubtedly continue and I look forward in the coming weeks to reviewing this report in depth and exploring its recommendations with our administration, city council and various boards and commissions to see how we can translate the good work that has been done into concrete steps that move our city forward,” the Mayor said.

Key Narrative Excerpts from the Report:
“The statues on Monument Avenue have been a source of pride and shame for the City’s residents from the time of their installations. As the city has become more ethnically, politically and socioeconomically diverse, tolerance for the monuments’ artistic and cultural meaning has shifted over time. In essence it is a question of whether or not Monument Avenue reflects the citizenry and its values. It is for these reasons the commission was formed and tasked to determine how best to reconcile a particular landscape viewed as both sacred and profane.”

*

“In the course of the work, it became abundantly clear the majority of the public acknowledges Monument Avenue cannot and should not remain exactly as it is. Change is needed and desired. The public offered many fascinating ideas, and the majority seemed to favor a multi-faceted approach.”

*

“The sanitizing of textbooks in Virginia persisted well into the late twentieth century. It should be no surprise, then that the Commission heard such opinions in our listening sessions, despite several generations of academic scholarship that have largely corrected the historical record.”

*

“During the course of the meetings, it became abundantly clear that there were a number of historical inaccuracies being repeated by the public throughout the public meeting process about a number of topics related to the monuments. The Commission drew on the collective historical knowledge and collections of the Commonwealth’s preeminent state historical institutions, resulting in the website “On Monument Avenue” (onmonumentave.com). Likewise, the Commission drew on the collective research and publications of the scholarly community and other documented studies of Confederate memorialization.”

*

“We hope that the history presented here and on the Commission’s Website “On Monument Avenue” provides citizens with a common base of knowledge for discussing Monument Avenue and other examples of Confederate memorialization in the City of Richmond. The history also supports telling the story of the avenue in a variety of styles of interpretation and creating a robust dialog with the monuments. What the history cannot do is provide a definitive answer to the question of whether the monuments are appropriate as a representation of the city and its residents.”

The report also contains an Appendix that includes a number of source documents that may be helpful, including:

  • The Mayor’s initial remarks establishing the commission (Appendix A)
  • State laws governing Confederate Memorials (Appendix B)
  • City of Richmond Attorney Legal Opinion on the Monuments (Appendix C)
  • Data on Public Engagement
Key Dates:

June 22, 2017 – Mayor forms Monument Avenue Commission. Appoints 10 members to engage the public, explore ways to add context to existing Confederate statuary and suggest ideas for new monuments.

August 9, 2018 – First public meeting, attended by more than 500 people.

August, 16, 2017 – After tragedy in Charlottesville, Mayor expands scope of Commission to consider removal and/or relocation of monuments. Expresses his personal belief that the Monuments should be removed and/or relocated.

September 16, 2017 – Pro-Confederate Rally held in Richmond – Fewer than a half-dozen members of the Tennessee-based group New Confederate States of America (CSA II) show up at the Lee statue and are met by hundreds of counter protestors. Event results in no injuries and a handful of arrests.

November 14, 2017 – Monument Avenue Commission work session held.

January – May, 2018 – Delegations of commissioners attend small group meetings requested by community organizations.

May 10, May 19, 2018 – Final two public meetings held by the MAC and evening public work session to review findings from public engagement process and discuss elements of Commission report.

July 2 – Commission submits report to Mayor, following one-month extension to prepare and write the report
For more information, please visit monumentavenuecommission.org.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

City Revenue Increasing Through Expansion of Delinquent Tax Sales


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced collection of delinquent real estate taxes, penalties and interest has dramatically increased during the past year through expansion of the delinquent tax sale program.

In this current fiscal year, which ends this week, the Office of the City Attorney successfully sold 134 delinquent properties through auction. Additionally, over $1.4 million was collected from 86 properties redeemed or sold by the owners after being placed into the program. This total of 220 properties represents many times the number sold or redeemed in fiscal year 2015 (40) and fiscal year 2016 (49).

In terms of revenue to the city, $5.9 million has been received this fiscal year. This total includes approximately $4.2 million in delinquent taxes, penalties and interest, plus nearly $1.7 million in legal expenses and related fees. This unprecedented increase in revenue collection was accomplished with additional personnel funding allocated to the Office of the City Attorney, engagement with an outside collections attorney and enhanced coordination with the Departments of Economic and Community Development, Finance and Planning and Development Review.

Mayor Stoney extended his appreciation to the city attorney and those involved in selling these properties and returning them to the active tax rolls. “This eliminates blight and addresses public safety challenges while enhancing economic development in the process,” said the mayor. “This was identified as a need in the VCU Performance Review, and our success is generating additional revenue for schools and public safety.”

In the next fiscal year beginning July 1, the Office of the City Attorney will endeavor to sell over 225 more properties at auction (in addition to realizing a significant number of expected redemptions), as well as an additional 100 properties via the engaged collections attorney as part of the new Economic Development Delinquent Tax Sale Program.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Mayor, City Officials Complete Successful Visits with Credit Rating Agencies


Mayor Levar M. Stoney, Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn, city finance officials and representatives of Davenport & Company, the city’s financial advisors, completed successful visits with Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s last week in New York.
The delegation presented the city’s improved financial position and extensive growth in economic development, with the mayor highlighting accomplishments in a number of key focus areas in advance of a new debt issuance planned for this summer to support capital project spending and economic development initiatives.
Some key initiatives that were well received by the rating agency analysts included:
  • Early completion of the FY2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which allowed the city to save over $13 million in a debt refunding
  • The successful 2017 tax amnesty program
  • Investment of $150 million in new school facilities
  • Poverty reduction efforts such as increased state grant funds for community wealth building
  • Expansion of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and creation of a separate department dedicated to housing
  • Implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
The mayor also highlighted the city’s strengthened debt management, fund balance and reserve policies consistent with best practices of highly rated local governments.
The city’s presentation also cited positive demographic trends, such as Richmond’s population growth, reduction in the unemployment rate to 3.7% for April 2018 and expansion of the city’s tax base. The mayor highlighted the breadth of economic growth across the city and in all industrial sectors, with over $1.3 billion in investment announced or underway since January 2017.
Above and beyond these recent successes, city officials discussed the continued potential for neighborhood transformation and significant investment in the city’s downtown, as official negotiations commence with the North of Broad Redevelopment respondent to the city’s issued request for proposals (RFP).
“Thanks to sound fiscal management, disciplined and targeted funding priorities addressing our needs and increased investment, our financial position is strong,” said Mayor Stoney. “We look forward to building on this success in the coming fiscal year and leveraging this strength into opportunities to grow our city for the benefit of all of its residents.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Richmond Receives Award for Financial Report Demonstrating Accountability and Transparency to Citizens


The City of Richmond has been recognized by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) for publishing its first-ever Citizen Centric Report demonstrating accountability and transparency to citizens.

The AGA awarded the city with a Certificate of Excellence in Citizen-Centric Reporting for its 2017 report to citizens. The AGA encourages governments to publish the report informing citizens of fiscal priorities, performance results and future challenges. The report aims to provide citizens with a better understanding of their government by communicating financial and community information in visually appealing and understandable four-page documents. 

To achieve the Certificate of Excellence, a government must incorporate into their report the program’s high standards of content, visual appeal, readability, distribution and timeliness in reporting as outlined in the AGA’s judging guidelines.

“I am proud of the work our Department of Finance has done,” said Mayor Stoney. “This award recognizes the progress we’ve made and the Citizen Centric Report will give citizens confidence in our fiscal priorities and how we manage our public finances.”


The AGA highlighted the report’s outstanding visual appeal and positive message about the city’s demography, finances and priorities, as well as progress made in areas of concern to new and current residents.

“I commend our finance staff for preparing a report for citizens to review,” said CAO Selena Cuffee-Glenn. “It reflects both stewardship and accountability; and I hope citizens will take advantage of this publication and information it provides regarding the city’s financial health.”

Copies of this report are available online here. Citizens can also email citizencentric.report@richmondgov.com or call (804) 646-4CCR to provide suggestions for information they would like to see in future reports.

Mayor Stoney Celebrates 521 Biscuits & Waffles Ribbon Cutting


Mayor Stoney joined officials from the City’s Department of Economic and Community Development and the Office of Minority Business Development this morning to celebrate the recipients of the first loan under the City’s new Micro-Enterprise Loan Program.

The Mayor cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Biscuits & Waffles at 521 East Main Street. Iron Waffles LLC, doing business as 521 Biscuits & Waffles, is owned by Aaron Bond and his wife, Maria Jose’ Mejia Ruiz. The 521 Biscuits & Waffles is a gluten-free restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch.

“Small businesses are essential to flourishing communities and growing a prosperous city,” said Mayor Stoney. “I’m extremely proud of the work our Office of Minority Business Development is doing to support and encourage entrepreneurial growth and development, and I look forward to seeing how this micro loan program will help launch many other successful new businesses.”
“I am very excited about this important ribbon cutting event in celebration of the first Micro-Loan closing under our new initiative,” said Pat Foster, Director of Minority Business Development Office. “The good news is this is the first of many!”

The Micro-Enterprise Loan Program is a relatively new city financing initiative. This loan program has a component tied to technical assistance and is for businesses with five or fewer employees including the owner(s). The Micro-Enterprise Loan Program fills a void for small businesses that need financing in the range of $2,500 up to $50,000. This loan program is funded with federal dollars and is administered by the City of Richmond.

For more information about the Micro-Enterprise Loan Program, please contact Patricia Foster at (804) 646-7966 or
Patricia.Foster@RichmondGov.com.

New RVA311 Service Request System Launches Next Friday

Late Friday, June 15, RVA311 will launch! RVA311 is a brand new and online, cloud-based interface powered by AvePoint Citizen Services for managing citizen, business and visitor requests. This user-friendly application will have its own website URL (rva311.com) and become available as a mobile application early next month. It will work with any internet-connected device, anytime, anywhere. RVA311 is designed to improve service delivery and enhance citizen engagement for non-emergency requests. The self-service portal will enable citizens, businesspersons and visitors to submit service requests by category, and then by specific service need, and provide for images and files to be uploaded as well. 

Mayor Levar M. Stoney called this digital transformation of how the city serves citizens, businesses and visitors “a game changer,” and thanked the four-time Microsoft Partner of the Year Award winner for this technology gifted to the city. “AvePoint’s investment in Richmond and their technology powering 
RVA311 will allow us to serve citizens in a far more transparent way that will be both better and faster,” said the mayor. “I encourage Richmonders to utilize this new intelligent reporting tool and to download the mobile app as soon as it becomes available.”

RVA311 is a solution powered by AvePoint’s Citizen Services platform for government agencies. AvePoint is a global independent software vendor with a presence in Richmond since 2016. Brian Brown, AvePoint’s Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, spoke of the commitment AvePoint made to improve the city in which they now live, work and play, using technology, “The launch of RVA311, backed by AvePoint Citizen Services, symbolizes this commitment,” said Brown. “We’re invested in the city’s success and growth, and will remain supporters as it takes advantage of this cutting-edge technology.”

Several core city agencies will be utilizing 
RVA311 at launch, including the Richmond Police Department, the Departments of Public Works, Public Utilities, Social Services, Finance and the Department of Planning and Development Review. Additional agencies will come on board at a later date. RVA311 will also serve as the operating system for requests submitted by citizens calling 311 or (804) 646-7000.

Upon submission of any request, the intelligent system will automatically route it to the appropriate department for review and remedy. Users who provide an email address will receive updates and be notified when the work is completed. There will also be an option for users to create an on-line account, although it is not required for access. The 
RVA311 portal will also feature answers to 150 frequently asked questions (FAQs) to further assist users.  

RVA311
 will be managed by the new Department of Citizen Service and Response, which begins operations in July. The new department will be centered on ensuring the city remains “citizen-centric” in its service delivery efforts.

Upon the June 15 launch, See-Click-Fix will no longer be supported by the city for service requests. After June 15, the only way service requests can be submitted to the city will be through the RVA311 portal online, by phone or via the mobile application when it becomes available early next month. Residents, businesses and visitors are reminded RVA311 is for non-emergency requests only. 911 should still be called in any emergency. 
For more information about RVA311, please contact Krystal Onaitis at (804) 972-2901 or krystal.onaitis@richmondgov.com. For more information on city services, please visit richmondgov.com. 

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.


Friday, March 2, 2018

Mayor Stoney Makes Three More Administration Appointments


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the appointment of three highly-qualified professionals to fill three additional executive positions presently held by interim appointees.

Acting Directors of Human Resources, Korita Brown Jones, and Information Technology, Charles G. Todd, have been promoted to positions of director, while Albemarle County’s recent Director of Finance, Betty J. Burrell, has been hired to serve as Richmond’s new Director of Procurement Services.

“Once again, we are most fortunate to have the best-of-the-best accepting these critically important leadership positions,” said Mayor Stoney. “While bringing renewed accountability to City Hall is an ongoing process and an especially concerted effort, our success is predicated upon the quality and dedication of our employees and people we have leading our departments.

“Korita, Charles and Betty all bring a wealth of experience, ideas and vigor to our administration, and I welcome them in these positions and look forward to all we will accomplish working together during my term.”


Korita Brown Jones has worked for the City of Richmond since January 2008.  She began her career with the city as a human resources (HR) consultant and worked on a variety of joint personnel-related projects through the former RichmondWorks initiative. 

Korita was previously promoted to Council Policy Analyst by Richmond City Council, and again to serve as council’s first HR liaison. In 2015, she was promoted to serve as the Division Chief of Compensation and Benefits in the Department of Human Resources, where she was instrumental in administering that year’s employee salary increases, launching the city’s high deductible health insurance plan with a city-sponsored health savings account and completing the city’s first comprehensive compensation study. Over the last year, Korita has served as interim HR Director.

Prior to the City of Richmond, Korita was employed with Springsted Incorporated, Genworth Financial and Chesterfield County, Virginia. She is a native of Petersburg, VA and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from Virginia State University.


Charles G. Todd has worked for the City of Richmond in the Department of Information Technology (DIT) since 2013, when he was appointed manager of the department’s applications bureau and was responsible for six teams providing application development and management for all city agencies. This followed a 2012 contract appointment from Modis, where he led an application development and management team supporting nine city agencies. In 2015, he was promoted to Deputy Director for DIT Operations, overseeing the applications, infrastructure and end user services bureaus. Since then, he has served as interim director for the department.

Prior to his employment with the city, Charles worked for 17 years as an officer, vice president and senior vice president for Bank of America. There he was responsible for systems conversions, process reengineering, application development, CRM infrastructure, distributed systems, business intelligence and enterprise architecture. Charles is a native of Richmond and received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Virginia Tech.

Betty J. Burrell has served in local government for over 35 years, including a decade in procurement leadership during her tenure as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the City of Portsmouth, VA. She most recently held the position of Finance Director for Albemarle County, VA, where she led the local government and schools purchasing divisions, real estate and local tax assessments and collections, payroll, accounts payable and financial reporting. 

Betty also led Albermarle’s team that implemented Purchasing Cards (P-cards), which resulted in operational cost savings, rebate revenue generation and improved accountability, reporting and data analytics.

Betty holds a Master of Science in Administration with a concentration in Public Administration degree from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Averett University. 

“I cannot be more pleased with the leadership team we’ve put together,” said Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn.  “Human resources, procurement and information technology are key focal points in the backbone of our administration, and I am most pleased to welcome these talented individuals to their new positions.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

Update on North of Broad/Downtown Redevelopment Request for Proposals



On November 9, 2017, Mayor Stoney formally announced the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the North of Broad/Downtown Neighborhood Redevelopment Project. Issuing the RFP was the first step in initiating an open competitive process for a transformative opportunity to spur redevelopment of a significant portion of real estate located in the neighborhood north of Broad Street in downtown Richmond.

Upon announcing the RFP, Mayor Stoney noted that “The goals of this RFP are bold, but provide an opportunity to achieve a number of strategic objectives for the city. To expand economic development and affordable housing opportunities, to generate revenue while achieving poverty mitigations through jobs and training, to provide historic preservation and community revitalization, to promote and support tourism, and to ensure sustainable development and investments in infrastructure.”

The RFP required respondents address a variety of components, including:

  • Replacement of the Richmond Coliseum
  • Mixed income and affordable housing
  • Community revitalization
  • Infrastructure improvements necessary to support new traffic patterns and increased pedestrian activity
  • Poverty mitigation including local job creation, training, and hiring
  • Minority and Emerging Small Business participation
  • Replacement of the GRTC Transfer Station
  • New Convention Center Hotel
  • Historic Preservation and adaptive reuse of the Blues Armory
  • Project financing that does not involve the moral or general obligation of the city

Mayor Stoney made it clear that the city will not entertain any proposal that requires the city to use its existing tax revenue or debt capacity. The city will not incur any moral or general obligation bonds to fund any private component of a proposal, but is willing to consider proposals that incorporate tax increment financing or the creation of special service districts.

“We have too much to do for schools, housing, roads and other city priorities to leverage our limited borrowing capacity for this redevelopment,” Mayor Stoney said.

Last Friday, February 9, 2018, was the deadline for the city to receive submissions in response to the RFP. The city received one Proposal prior to the submission deadline and will now turn its focus towards the review process.

A review committee of city staff will conduct a rigorous initial review and assessment of the Proposal, which is expected to take approximately 30 days. In order to ensure that all facets are evaluated and the city’s interests are protected, the review will involve multiple city disciplines including finance, economic and community development, operations, minority and emerging small business, planning, and transportation.

If the results of the initial review warrant moving forward, preliminary discussions will be undertaken over approximately 45 to 60 days following completion of the review. Contract negotiations, if warranted, would follow so that any project agreements and related ordinances could be finalized and presented to City Council for consideration later this year. 

“The North of Broad area presents a tremendous opportunity for transformational change, and as I stated from the onset, we set a high bar for respondents because that’s what we have to do to achieve true neighborhood revitalization,” Mayor Stoney said.

“I expect a thorough and meticulous review process, and we will only move forward if the Proposal is in the best interests of the city and does not negatively impact the city’s finances and debt capacity. If the Proposal does not live up to the goals set forth in the RFP, then we will have to explore other alternatives.”