RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond City Council is holding a public hearing Monday night on Mayor Levar Stoney’s proposed budget.
After two months of back-and-forth over Stoney’s proposed spending plan for next year, City Council members are still undecided on what taxes to raise, and what areas to cut.
Stoney’s budget includes more funding for Richmond schools, an increase in the real estate tax and a new cigarette tax.
Stoney met Richmond Public Schools’ request for more funding for the city, with an additional 18.5 million. He also directed a historic $16 million for road and sidewalk repairs, along with other spending for affordable housing and expanding GRTC routes to under-served neighborhoods.
But to make it all happen, Stoney wants to raise the real estate tax by 9 cents (making it $1.29 for $100 assessed on property), cigarette tax by 50 cents, and increase utility rates on natural gas and water.
Ahead of the public hearing, three council members have proposed not giving schools the additional $18.5 million RPS is asking for in its portion of the budget.
The majority of city council members are also not in favor of raising property tax.
Council member Andreas Addison proposed an across-the-board cut to all city departments by 1.5 percent.
Council member Mike Jones, who supports a property tax hike, said raising taxes is never popular, but the city must do what’s right for its children.
“No one likes tax increases," said Jones. "No one likes fee increases. And as difficult as it is, we must do the difficult job now.”
Enough City Council members appear to support the cigarette tax hike for it to possibly pass.
It’s unclear what the council will do with the proposed utility rate hikes
Monday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall. City Council chambers is expected to be packed, especially with supporters of Richmond Public Schools, planning to wear red.
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