RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney unveiled his administrations FY2021 budget plan Friday, which includes a $782.6 million operating budget and an $85 million Capital Improvement Plan.
Among the plan’s chief focuses are schools, housing, transportation and economic development.
The proposal increases the city’s support to Richmond Public Schools by $16 million. That’s on top of a $20 million increase in state education funding.
The mayor said with last year’s budget allocation, RPS provided a three-percent raise to teachers, hired 10 art, music and foreign language teachers, added more social workers and nurses and bought 10 new school buses.
“We have a responsibility to address the most significant challenges our community faces,” said Mayor Stoney. “I am proud of the investments we make in this budget, which will improve opportunity for our children and families, deliver quality services and lift up our most vulnerable residents.”
Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras also responded to the budget announcement.
“We are thrilled with the Mayor’s $16 million investment in Richmond Public Schools for next year. This adds to the $18 million increase we received from the City last year. These investments are making Dreams4RPS, our strategic plan, come to life in our schools. That means raises to recognize our incredibly dedicated educators and support staff; more ESL, special education, Advanced Placement (AP), art, music, and foreign language teachers to enhance our academic programming; additional nurses, social workers, and counselors to provide desperately-needed “whole-child” supports; and more broadband, buses, and boilers – among many other enhancements – to bring us into the 21st Century. To fully fund our needs, we must continue to advocate at the State level alongside our very supportive Richmond delegation. While this year’s State budget will be helpful, it will fall well short of the education funding levels called for by the Virginia Board of Education. Our students and staff deserve better from the Commonwealth and we will continue to fight for them until Virginia is #1 in K-12 funding and teacher pay.”
Jason Kamras, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent
Mayor Stoney’s budget also focuses on housing. He plans to increase the city’s funding of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to $3.5 million and increase funding to the Eviction Diversion Program by more than 40 percent to $686,000.
The budget proposal also includes $32 million to pave roads and maintain and grow sidewalks in the city. It also puts $7.9 million toward GRTC.
If Mayor Stoney’s budget is approved, it would also:
- Support six new sidewalk maintenance and installation teams
- Double the current number of urban forestry teams to six
- Fund salary increases and career development for police officer and firefighters
- Fund a two percent salary increase for general employees.
Stoney also wants to use $150,000 to create a Richmond Doula Fund to address racial disparities in maternal and child health, and put $250,000 toward the History and Culture Commission so it can make recommendations on things like monuments and new street signs.
“After three years, I know the only way we will get to One Richmond is by working together,” said Mayor Stoney. “So it is my hope that this year’s budget process will be a time where the leaders of this city, and the communities we all serve, can come to consensus around our shared priorities and say ‘yes,’ to growing opportunity for ALL our residents.”
The proposed budget does not include any new taxes. However, it would raise utility rates, which is expected to result in an additional $5.56 on the average customer’s bill each month.
Mayor Stoney’s budget proposal must be approved by City Council and residents are encouraged to weigh in. There will be public hearings on April 13 at 6 p.m. and May 11 at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall. The public can also speak directly with their individual council members on their thoughts. The new budget will take effect on July 1.