Mayor has plans for $6.7 million surplus

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The City of Richmond has a $6.7 million budget surplus.  Mayor Dwight Jones said the money comes from some good old fashion belt tightening.

Just like every Richmonder is doing right now, he's telling city officials to spend smarter.  He admits they haven't been doing that.

Lifelong Richmond resident Alice Harris is glad to hear about the extra money, but has a question for city leaders.  It's a question we heard throughout the city.

"How did they find it," she asked.

We brought the question to the mayor.  He said the city stepped up efforts to collect money owed in taxes and parking tickets, which yielded an extra $3.5 million.

"It's making sure that money that is owed to us comes in and then making sure the money that we have we spend in proper ways," he explained.

Which brings up another question, shouldn't the city have been doing this all along?

"I would say that it's something we were not doing before," Jones responded.

He explained how he hopes to spend that extra money. $500,000 toward blight reduction could go to clean up vacant houses throughout Richmond.

"It makes people think, I don't mean that you're poor, but you know, that you can't do any better," Alice Harris said about the boarded up houses next to her Church Hill home.

$500,000 will go to the Low Income Weatherization program, which makes homes more energy efficient.

"I have plastic on the windows and draperies and on a cold day everything moves," she said.

Another $500,000 would go to help low income riders pay for their bus tickets.

Babro Sims, who rides the bus to and from work every day, said he fits into that category.

"Yeah that's a good idea," he exclaimed.  "You know, anything to help; anything to help, that kind of money can help."

There's more money to spend.  About $2 million of the surplus will go into a health care reserve fund as the city looks to self-insure.

Just over $1 million will go to infrastructure improvements like streets, sidewalks and bikeways.

And another $2 million will go into a rainy day-type fund, in case the city continues to see economic tough times.

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