Friday, November 16, 2018

Mayor Stoney Announces Key Priorities for Navy Hill Project Surplus

Additional $1.2 billion over 30 year dedicated to Education (50%), Housing (15%) and the Arts (1%)
Mayor Stoney announced his intention today to dedicate significant portions of the surplus revenues from the Navy Hill Redevelopment Project to his core priorities of education and housing. The Mayor’s proposal, which will be included in the ordinances submitted to city council in the coming weeks, would direct 50 percent of surplus revenues from the Tax Increment Financing district to support Richmond Public Schools, 15 percent to support housing opportunities and homeless services and 1 percent for art, history and cultural opportunities. The remaining 34 percent would remain in the general fund for investments in public safety, public works and other core city services.

“By dedicating significant portions of the surplus revenues that this project will create to our top priorities of education, housing opportunities, and arts and culture, we are following through on my commitment that this project will truly be the greatest economic empowerment project in our city’s history,” said Mayor Levar Stoney.

The city’s third party analysis estimated the Navy Hill Project would generate $1.2 billion in surplus revenues to the City General Fund over 30 years. The Mayor’s proposed distribution of surplus revenues would provide an estimated $600 million for schools to use on operations or could be bonded for infrastructure and capital needs, in addition to the $34 million projected to be generated from the 1.5% of meals tax collections that will still go to the special fund for school construction. $180 million would be available for investments in housing needs such as affordable housing opportunities, public housing transformation and homelessness services intervention. $12 million would be dedicated for public projects that add to the artistic, cultural and historic assets of the city. In addition to these commitments, an additional $400 million would be available for the city to invest in neighborhoods through roads and infrastructure improvements, police and fire services, as well as other city services.

“I believe the 21,000 jobs, nearly 700 units of affordable housing and the more than $300 million in opportunities for minority business that the Navy Hill project will create already provides tremendous economic opportunities for our residents. But I’m just as excited about its potential to generate significant revenues that we can use to build a world-class educational system, to improve housing opportunities for all our residents, and to invest in art and cultural projects that tell our full and complete history. This type of project will truly enable us to build One Richmond,” said Mayor Stoney.

The Mayor’s plan won immediate support from leaders of Richmond Public Schools, who were in attendance for the announcement outside of George Mason Elementary School in Church Hill.

“This partnership is a signal of new collaboration between RPS and the City,” said RPS School Board Chairwoman Dawn Page. “I want to thank the Mayor for listening and prioritizing our children. There is much more to do, but this agreement helps us move forward together.”

“This is an important symbol of what we can achieve when we work together as One Richmond,” said Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras. “Starting in 2023, this revenue will allow us to rebuild at least another half dozen schools. That means thousands of children will have a beautiful, modern building to walk into every morning. Of course, this doesn’t solve our facility challenges, nor does it address our immediate need for more instructional dollars. But it’s a significant step in the right direction.” 
Advocates for improving housing opportunities in the city also voiced support for the plan.

“This level of investment into affordable housing will change so many lives,” said Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, Chairwoman of the Richmond Affordable Housing Trust Fund. “Right now, too many Richmonders are living in unsatisfactory conditions and we haven’t had the resources to adequately help tackle this problem. This proposed financial pledge to housing and homelessness services is exactly what our city and our citizens need.”

“This distribution of surplus revenue which directs 15 percent to housing goes a long way in finding the funds needed to rehabilitate or replace aging buildings in our public housing communities and bolster our homeless services. Everyone in Richmond deserves a high-quality home, and Mayor Stoney’s proposal affirms that it’s a priority,” said Robert Adams, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

“This announcement of an estimated $180 million over the next 30 years, in conjunction with the already announced commitment of nearly 700 affordable housing units, will change the face of housing for this city,” said Greta Harris, CEO of the Better Housing Coalition. “It will address head-on the housing crisis and homelessness and help us build an inclusive community that sends a message that Richmond welcomes and serves residents of all income levels.”

“It’s no secret that Richmond’s culture is strongly rooted in history and the arts. This commitment that the Mayor has put forward will be a significant investment in our community arts and culture programming. It is, in part, recognition that a city without arts and culture is a city without a soul. And if there’s one thing we know, Richmond has soul,” said Sarah Cunningham, Chairwoman of the Richmond Public Arts Commission.

While the Navy Hill Project still requires City Council approval, the Mayor’s plan to dedicate a significant portion of the surplus revenue to education, housing and the arts was met with support by members of City Council.

"While I will fully vet the Navy Hill proposal with the community and council, I would strongly support the Mayor's proposed allocation of the largest portion of the anticipated revenues to be generated by the project to go to our public schools, followed by housing and core services,” said Council Vice-President Cynthia Newbille. “Education and housing are the city’s most critical needs and require more resources. And the arts and cultural component will go a long way in helping to bring art into our neighborhoods to help tell the history of our city and highlight the culture of our communities.”

I look forward to reviewing this proposal carefully to ensure that it delivers all that it promises. However, I think dedicating 50% for schools, 34% for core services, 15% for affordable housing is a clear demonstration of meeting the City’s commitment to these priorities,” said City Council President, Chris Hilbert. “This is a very positive development in this process and I welcome the Mayor’s decision to pursue this avenue.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Mayor Stoney Appoints Reggie Gordon Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Human Services

Mayor Levar M. Stoney announced today the appointment of Reginald E. Gordon to the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services. Mr. Gordon has served in the interim capacity since August, 2018, and simultaneously as the Director of the Office of Community Wealth Building. He will permanently assume the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) on Monday, November 26, 2018.

The DCAO of Human Services is responsible for the proper administration of government with a portfolio including direct oversight over the Departments of Social Services, Justice Services and Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. DCAO Gordon will also serve as the liaison to the quasi-independent and state agencies including the Richmond City Health District, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority and the Richmond Public Library.

“Reggie’s extensive background in human services and numerous successes in community wealth building and related initiatives serving our citizens makes him the clear choice to serve as Richmond’s DCAO for Human Services,” said Mayor Stoney. “I am excited to work even more closely with him now in the ongoing pursuit to build ‘One Richmond.’”

Mr. Gordon’s portfolio also includes two of the city’s most critical programs, the Office of Aging and Persons with Disabilities and Office of Multicultural Affairs.

“I am honored to be entrusted with these new and vital responsibilities,” said Mr. Gordon. “The mayor and chief administrative officer (CAO) have impressed upon me now is not the time for business as usual in the City of Richmond, and I am ready to advance the initiatives designed to create positive and transformative outcomes for children, single adults and families in our city. We will find new and creative ways to achieve equitable and life affirming outcomes for all our citizens, and I thank the mayor and CAO for this opportunity.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham to Retire

Retirement at year’s end caps 31 years of distinguished service in law enforcement, four years as Chief of RPD

After more than 31 years of distinguished public service in law enforcement, Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham today announced his intention to retire from his job as Chief of Police, effective December 31, 2018.

The chief’s retirement will conclude nearly four years of service to the City of Richmond as police chief, and caps a law enforcement career that began in 1987 with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, following four years of active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Public service is, and has been, my life,” said Chief Durham, 55. “It has been my highest privilege to serve the men and women of this department and the citizens of this great city. I would like to thank Mayor Stoney for believing in me and for his unwavering support in allowing me the opportunity to strengthen the department and its bonds to the community. It has been both an incredibly challenging and rewarding career for me.”
Chief Durham said he is retiring at a time when the department has received national recognition as a law enforcement agency and has “a great team of employees who are doing remarkable work each and every day.

“Knowing that the department is in a better place than when I assumed command in 2015, I feel that now is the ideal time for me to focus on my personal life and to begin spending quality time with my family,” he said.

Mayor Levar M. Stoney, who retained Chief Durham as Chief of Police after taking office in January 2017, thanked him for his years of service to the Richmond community. “Chief Durham deserves our deepest respect and sincere appreciation for his tireless commitment to our city,” he said.

“He has always been a 24-7 chief,” Mayor Stoney continued. “Whether at a community meeting or crime scene, a street festival or a street protest, day or night, the residents of this city could always count on him to be there. Chief Durham gave blood, sweat and tears to this department, and Richmond is a better place because of his service. We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life.”

During Chief Durham’s tenure, the Richmond Police Department expanded its complement of sworn officers to its prescribed strength, a move that enabled the department to assign dedicated officers to the city’s public housing courts, improving safety and security in those areas. The department also modernized its equipment and deployed technology such as body worn cameras, security cameras and laptop computers to police personnel. The department has also been recognized, and consulted by other law enforcement agencies, for its handling of public demonstrations.
Most recently, the work of the department’s homicide unit was recognized in an article in the Washington Post for the having the highest homicide case closure rate in the nation over the last 10 years. (Click Here)

As of Nov. 13, the city is experiencing a 21 percent decrease in homicides and a nine percent reduction in violent crime.

Chief Durham will serve in his full capacity as chief through the end of the year. The city will conduct a national search for a new chief. In the coming weeks, Mayor Stoney will appoint an interim chief who will assume command of the department following Chief Durham’s departure until a permanent replacement has been selected.