Mayor, city council hold special meeting regarding school facilities

Mayor, city council hold special meeting regarding school facilities
Mayor Stoney and Richmond City Council held a special meeting to discuss the meals tax. A vote is set for Monday night. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Mayor Levar Stoney is continuing to push his meals tax increase ahead of Monday's vote.

The mayor wants to increase the meals tax by 1.5 percent, which he estimates will allow the city to borrow about $150 million for the school facilities plan.

Freda Green-Bolling, who lives in Richmond, came out on a rainy Saturday afternoon to hear Mayor Stoney make a last-minute pitch regarding the meals tax increase.

"I have a son who teaches at Richmond public schools and I'm concerned about the condition of Richmond Public Schools," said Green-Bolling. "Originally, I wasn't in favor of the meals tax."

For many in attendance, it was the first time seeing the Mayor Superintendent Jason Kamras and City Council member Cynthia Newbille working together publicly to address these issues and answer any questions about the meals tax increase, a move that changed some minds, including Freda.

"Having been a long-time resident of the city of Richmond and seeing some things that were promised to us and there was no accountability factor involved, so it kind of went to the wayside," said Green-Bolling. "This plan seems to have more focused and their accountability, and it's going to start right now - immediately and the meals tax going to support our children and the future of this city."

The 1.5 percent meals tax increase, if passed, would bring in approximately $9 million, which would expand Richmond's debt capacity and allow the city to secure a $150 million loan to build new schools and renovate infrastructure in others.

"It sends a message to the general public that Richmond city leaders are serious about public education. Our children are our number one asset. If we invest in them, then we invest in our future," said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

"I put out a 100-day plan, and I asked the public to hold me accountable because I want to prove that we'll do what I say I'm going to do, that the mayor will do what he says he's going to do," said Jason Kamras, superintendent of Richmond Public Schools.

A step in the right direction, Jim Adams, a new resident of Richmond says more work needs to be done

"The next piece of it needs to be that everyone is on board with the same plan, which schools and how we address schools, class size and school size, and those are controversial things that take a lot of discussions and a lot of buy-in," said Adams.

"I would caution everybody is to get involved, go out to the meeting ask the questions, be vocal, be up front, be a part of your community. Then you'll get the answers you need when you attend these meetings," said Green-Bolling.

City Council goes to vote on the tax increase on Monday.

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