Posted by Terry Alexander - email
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A public hearing on Richmond's proposed budget is getting underway at city hall.
It's a $630 million budget. Mayor Jones presented the spending plan in March and for the last month, city council's been toying with the numbers.
"We're going to make it through this tough time and try not to put any more burdens on the people," said Mayor Dwight Jones.
City council's upheld that part of the bargain. The budget does not include any layoffs or cuts to major services.
"This year in tight and next year is going to be tighter and we need to do this budget within these constraints," said Richmond City Council President Kathy Graziano.
And like the mayor wanted, the real estate tax will remain at $1.20, but taxpayers will face a new fee. A storm water utility. Homeowners will pay average an extra $45 a year.
Sales tax figures in the city are down a million dollars, so are the lodging revenues at hotels. And with home and car values dropping personal property tax collection is expected to take a big hit.
"Even our budget from last year we've been pulling some of our fire companies out of service for a day. And we are limiting what we are paying police in overtime," said Graziano.
With figures down, departments across the board were cut. But, if this budget passes, police could lose $230,000 in funding. Some programs were given a reprieve.
The Fulton Hill Neighborhood Resource Center was completely cut out of the mayor's budget, but city council has put some of the money back. The main public library was going to have to close on Saturdays but not any more.
"They've reduced hours at some of the branches but the libraries will be open six days a week," Graziano said.
City council will vote on a final budget on May 26.