No new taxes, Changes to tax billing cycle

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond's budget is now in the hands of city council. Mayor Dwight Jones spent more than an hour Monday night making his pitch.

His $637 million spending plan for 2011 includes no new taxes and no major cuts to services. There are no furloughs or raises for city employees and minimal layoffs. But the mayor's plan does call for major changes in the way city hall does business....and homeowners could also feel the effects.

The city's lost $55 million in revenue over the last two years. The mayor says his budget isn't a spending plan, but an economic recovery strategy.

"I think that's the first time I ever heard applause for a budget," said Mayor Dwight Jones at Monday night's meeting.

Mayor Dwight Jones budget appeared to be well received. The tough plan, offers no patch or one-time fix, it basically re-wires city hall.

"We inherited a situation where a lot needed to be done and we're trying to it, we can't get it all done in one budget cycle, but we're hoping this is a very good beginning," said Jones.

His plan would change your property tax payment from once a year in June to twice a year.

"Our present method of collecting once annual payments at the end of the budget year is no way to run a business. This would be like a family getting a paycheck once a year in December," he said.

The city's hiring a debt collector to go after unpaid parking tickets and delinquent property taxes.

Jones' calls for stream lined operations at city hall. The cutting of duplicate services and he wants to change to the way the city budgets, looking for results instead just an amount of money to be spent.

"Refinancing bonds will help us. Combining services with the school district will help us," said Richmond CAO Byron Marshall.

The major's also wants to add millions to roads, sidewalk and tree budgets.

"If we're going to be a tier one city we can't have a crumbling infrastructure," Jones said.

This plan is now in the hands of city council members. They have until May 24 to make changes and adopt a budget. Members will set the tax rate on April 12. It currently sits at $1.20 and the mayor said tonight he will not accept a tax increase.

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