Public comments on proposed city budget

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (NBC12) - The Richmond budget is getting a closer look from residents.

The city is facing a $30 million shortfall, so cuts must be made.

But many residents are concerned the proposed budget is not putting revitilization money toward the best use.

"I need to be here to see what's going on because it's going to have a major impact on our community," said resident Cora Dickerson.

Dozens of people turned out to a public budget meeting to better understand the city's fate.

What they learned impacts everything form schools to bus services to utility services like recycling and trash pickup.

Almost every facet of the Richmond community is taking a hit as Mayor Dwight Jones and City Council work to create a balanced budget.

The mayor's proposal keeps real estate tax at a $1.20 but ups several common services, like recycling, from $1.64 to $1.69 a month.

"There are some additional service fees that are included in this budget for storm water management," said City Council Vice President Ellen Robertson. "There's an additional fee for commercial dumping that adds some additional revenue to the budget."

One major concern for citizens like Yvonne Spain is revitilization efforts in Richmond's toughest neighborhoods where crime is high and spirits are low.

"Presently I'm working with Midlothian Village in my area, southside, and in the city trying to help public housing residents become more achievable," said Spain.

As the budget stands there's money for downtown development that will continue to carry out part of the master plan but individual neighborhoods will feel the pinch.

"The cuts that the neighborhoods may be more than we have traditionally been able to put in for neighborhood in blooms and those kinds of programs in the past," said Robertson.

Robertson says the budget may need to change if enough residents feel strongly about this issue.

"I think based on what the citizens have to say to us that we may have to make a decision as to whether or not we put new money toward the downtown revitalization or try to balance some more of that into the neighborhoods," she said.

It's really not too late to make your voice heard.

The final budget will not be adopted until late May, so if you have suggestions about changes contact your city council representative.

You can look over a copy of the proposed Richmond budget for yourself on the city government's website.

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