RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Bring more people to Richmond, and help those who already live there -- that's the goal behind plans for a 62-million dollar windfall. Mayor Dwight Jones' budget plan calls for improvements that he thinks can benefit the city for years to come.
The money is refund from a decades-old loan used to establish the expressway system. The mayor believes improvements can draw in tourists, without costing taxpayers a dime.
Improving tourism is a big part of the mayor's plan to bring money back into the city. In his budget - which includes $62.1 million from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority the mayor wants to:
- Create a promenade in Shockoe Bottom
- Renovate the landmark theater
- And develop a more inviting riverfront.
The mayor says he wants to give families, school and visitors better access to the James River.
"When you look at the terraces on the river, that's transformation, people have lived in Richmond all their lives and couldn't get to the river," said Mayor Jones.
The major also wants to improve:
- Public housing
- And build a world class industrial park off Interstate 95.
"That's what government does, we do the infrastructure we prepare the way, then development comes in and takes over from there," Jones added.
Good news for tourism and low income families...but what about city residents and workers?
"The budget will not include any tax increases, no layoffs, no furloughs, and no reduction of core services," he said.
And when it comes to raises Jones said, "It pains me that we're not able to give raises for the fourth year in a row but if we improve our fax base we'll be in a different position."
Richmond Public Schools was hoping to get a cut of that 62 million.
"We've already had experienced layoffs, we have been cutting since 2008 so it comes to a point ...what else do you do?" Richmond City School Board Chairwoman Dawn Page said.
This Monday, Mayor Jones will discuss his plans for dealing with Richmond public schools' budget shortfall. For now the mayor's plan also include putting away about a million dollars a year to a new baseball stadium for the Flying Squirrels, and of course paying down debt and increasing the city's savings. Mayor Jones is expected to present his complete budget proposal to the city council, Tuesday.