An End of Year Message from Mayor Stoney

Dear Richmonders,

Welcome back from what I hope was a relaxing and joyful holiday season.

This year, we made significant progress in building One Richmond through investing in our kids and families, rebuilding infrastructure, improving city services and promoting economic empowerment.

By collaborating with the community and working with City Council, we invested in your priorities by:

·         Fully funding the Dreams4RPS Strategic Plan (Richmond Public Schools operating budget) and the Richmond Public Schools maintenance budget, constituting the city’s largest education investment in a generation;
·         Investing $16.2 million in roads and sidewalks to fund a long-term solution to the quality of Richmond’s roads;
·         Putting $2.9 million in the city’s affordable housing trust fund and dedicated $485,000 to the Eviction Diversion Program;
·         Investing an additional $798,000 for GRTC service, funding the service enhancements of three routes, creation of one new route, and installation of over 30 bus stop benches.

We also supported and created programs that make Richmond a better place to raise a family by:

·         Beginning construction on three new schools, scheduled to open in fall of 2020: Greene Elementary, George Mason Elementary and Hull Street Middle;
·         Meeting the goal to increase out of school time access by at least 1,000 slots and ensuring every elementary and middle school in the city has a quality program on site or nearby;
·         Providing free CPR and First Aid instruction and certification to 126 RPS teachers, saving the individuals about $18,900 in certification fees;
·         Serving 117,509 meals to children in Richmond during the summer months;
·         Implementing the fine-free youth library card throughout the city for youth under 18;
·         Establishing the Child and Maternal Health workgroup.

We heard the call for action on the city’s eviction challenges by:
·         Founding and funding the first-of-its-kind in Virginia Eviction Diversion program, partnering with Central VA Legal Aid, Housing Opportunities Made Equal and the city courts system
·         Creating the Eviction Task Force, convening 20 experts to discuss root causes of and solutions to Richmond’s housing challenges.

We succeed in our goal to serve as responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars by:
·         Saving $40 million in interest costs on an unprecedented bond sale, allowing the city to pay off the debt on the three new schools more quickly;
·         Ending FY2019 with a $15 million budget surplus, which was allocated toward a 1% cost of living adjustment for city retirees, necessary accessibility projects along the James River, and community center facility repairs;
·         Receiving the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association.
Meanwhile, we maintained our emphasis on the timely, high-quality and efficient delivery of city services by:
·         Filling more than 31,000 potholes, exceeding its pothole filling goal for the third straight year, and paved over 180 lane miles throughout the city;
·         Supporting a nearly 18% increase in ridership on GRTC bus lines from 2018 to 2019 due to the popularity of the Pulse, which earned a Bronze award from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy;
·         Providing free GRTC rides to the polls on Election Day for the second year in a row and free GRTC bus passes to all Richmond Public Schools students;
·         Serving over 17,800 people at the Office of Community Wealth Building Career Station centers;
·         Distributing approximately $550,000 in assistance to customers facing challenges paying heating bills;
·         Providing care to more than 3,400 animals in need and created the Tommie Fund, a dedicated fund to help other municipal shelters support the costs of medical services for animals in their care, through the Richmond Animal Care and Control Foundation.

We also engineered, educated and enforced our way to a safer city by:
  • Passing an ordinance banning firearms in city facilities and parks and unanimously passed a reporting requirement for lost and stolen guns in an attempt to crack down on trafficking in illegal guns;
·         Prohibiting the use of a handheld communications device while driving on the streets of Richmond, an ordinance which passed unanimously;
·         Implementing Vision Zero safety measures across the city, including: retiming over 400 traffic signals to protect pedestrians, installing over 280 high visibility crosswalks, installing 14 traffic-calming measures, such as roundabouts and installing 1.4 lanes of separated, protected bike lanes along Williamsburg Avenue; earning the Institute of Transportation Engineering Public Agency Award;
·         Celebrating the national accreditation of the Department of Emergency Communications and opened a state-of-the-art training center for its employees;
·         Implementing the Beat Project, which divides each of the city’s policing sectors into three beats, encouraging community policing and familiarity with neighborhood officers.

Last, but not least, we listened and acted on community concerns critical to making Richmond a better city for ALL by:
·         Retaining the highest Municipal Equality Index score in the Commonwealth, increasing the city’s score from a 94 to a 97 by advocating for inclusive policies at the state level;
·         Announced appointments to the History and Culture Commission, naming nine experts to advise the Mayor on Shockoe Bottom and the treatment of Monument Avenue;
·         Named Arthur Ashe Boulevard for the Richmond tennis star and civil rights icon; and
·         Hosted 17 town hall meetings with the Mayor’s Office.

After visiting all 44 of Richmond Public Schools’ elementary, middle and high schools for the third year in a row, I can’t help but look forward to the future. Next year, three new schools will open their doors to 3,250 future leaders, future change-makers.

This year was possible because you were willing to believe Richmond is a “can-do” city that could move forward. And we did.

So let’s go boldly into the New Year ready to fearlessly face our challenges, embrace our opportunities and build on our progress as One Richmond. Working together, I know we will make it happen in 2020. Happy New Year!


Mayor Levar Stoney