Richmond budget battle heats up; mayor’s staff walks out

Richmond budget battle heats up, mayor's staff walks out

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In what became a heated budget meeting, Richmond City Council decided towards not raising the real estate tax by 9 cents, as proposed by Mayor Stoney to help fund schools.

Council reached a consensus to keep property taxes at $1.20 per $100 of assessed value, and make cuts elsewhere.

This left the council with a roughly $11 million budget gap, that it still needs to fill.

“While I do not agree with the proposed cuts -- and my administration will work expeditiously to assess their impacts on city services and revenue collection -- it is my hope that we can work together to resolve any outstanding issues and produce a balanced budget that provides needed investments to deliver the services and city government our residents deserve,” Mayor LeVar Stoney said after the budget meeting.

City Council does appear to be keeping the cigarette tax hike and utility hikes.

The mayor’s administration also said it won’t certify $9 million in new revenue that council members had been counting on to balance the budget. Some members of his staff walked out.

This infuriated some council members. Councilwoman Kim Gray called it “unprofessional."

“The Mayor is trying to force us to raise real estate taxes...We were willing to stay there and work through the budget and come to some conclusion but the city employees were directed in unison to get up and leave the chambers," she said.

The council voted to retain its own attorney, to advise members on the administration not certifying funds that members believe would be available.

There’s still a lot of back and forth before to go before a final vote on the budget, which will be made next month.

School Superintendent Jason Kamras has called on City Council to approve the Mayor’s budget -- calling it “bold and courageous”.

The council’s next budget session will be Monday.

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