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