RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Big decisions lie ahead at City Hall. Council members overwhelmingly say they want to keep the real estate tax at $1.20 per $100 of assessed value, but with a government strapped for cash and about to make massive cuts, Council members also want insurance.
Council Vice President Ellen Robertson said today at a breakfast with the Mayor, "It's kind of like a credit card you have in your back pocket. You never intend to use it but if you have a critical emergency you'd rather have the option to be able to address that emergency."
Members will offer up 1, 2, and 3 cent increases to the real estate tax. They will even introduce a budget paper for a 1 cent cut.
The mayor also wants to shuffle around more departments at city hall, as a way to save money and improve service.
"We're taking the approach that nothing is sacred. We're thinking outside the box. And trying to reorganize the government so that it's streamlined and effective and efficient," said Mayor Dwight Jones.
His plan now includes, abolishing General Services and moving the 311 Call Center to Public Utilities. Fleet Management would fall under Public Works. And there's a debate over Animal Control. Some want the agency under the Police Department. Right now, it's headed for Public Works.
"My biggest concern is we're creating a department that's going to be too big, so it will fail. And at the same time not be able to deliver the services to the people," said Council member Bruce Tyler. Tyler cited Public Works' problems with tree removal and with the upkeep of roads.
"The bottom line is not what department does it. The bottom line is do we get the job done? And we'll just have to wait and see if this reorganization gets the job done," said Council President Kathy Graziano.
Mayor Jones will present his budget proposal to the City Council on March 22. The Council has until April 15 to set the real estate tax rate.