RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – According to Mayor Dwight Jones' State of the City address, "Richmond is resilient." Jones spoke to a couple hundred people, including other city leaders, at Center Stage for about an hour Tuesday night. Resiliency was the theme. The mayor also used words like determined, innovative and different to describe the way government and citizens need to be in such challenging times.
If Dwight Jones could have picked a time to be mayor, it would have been in a boom period, but that's not the hand he was dealt.
Despite a tough economy, he cited first year accomplishments like dropping the City's crime ranking from 49th to 99th, strengthening relationships between his office, City Council and the School Board, anticipation of new school construction, and of course bringing baseball back to the Capitol City.
Still, most of the news is grim. The city faces a $30 million budget shortfall.
"Given the challenging economic climate, it's clear that we cannot tax our way out of a recession," said Jones. "And, it's also clear that we cannot cut our way out of the financial challenges that we face."
Mayor Jones suggested agency consolidation, targeted layoffs, furloughs and privatization. But he also says economic development is key. That's something Council President Kathy Graziano fully supports.
"If you don't have economic development, you're not going to have revenues come in," she said. "If you don't have revenues come in, then your budget is even more in the hole."
To avoid that, Jones says his administration is working to "build a better Richmond."
"Richmond has always survived and Richmond will continue to survive," he said.
President Graziano said that when it comes to agency cuts, everything is on the table. She's hoping the mayor has worked out a way to bridge the gap, not raise taxes and still maintain services. We expect to see the budget proposal sometime in March