City Council takes priorities to state lawmakers ahead 2023 General Assembly session

One of the city’s biggest issue is its combined sewer system, which is a $1.3 billion project due by 2035.
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 2:37 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In Richmond, city councilors are preparing their wish list of priorities for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session.

One of the city’s most significant issues is its combined sewer system, a $1.3 billion project due by 2035. And that project to replace those remaining pipes underground may take Richmond longer to get done than first thought. The city has identified about $200 million so far for upcoming projects.

“It will take years, and we will be pushing to have that timeline extended. We’re doing everything short of drastically raising our stormwater fees,” said Stephanie Lynch, Richmond City Council.

Nine more costly projects still need to be completed to keep raw sewage and debris away from the James River. As a combined sewer system, the pipes transport both wastewater and stormwater. Parts of the system are more than 150 years old, which causes capacity issues when there’s heavy rain.

“Flooding is an issue in the city. The heat index, environmental climate that’s a real issue on south side and neighborhoods that don’t have a well-established tree canopy,” said Mike Jones, Richmond City Council.

The city is also looking to the General Assembly for property tax relief. Home assessments went up on average by 13 percent. Councilors want tax rate options.

“There’s been a lot of talk about how do we really create an income-based tax assessment so that our working families, our individuals living at or right above the poverty line, have a fighting chance,” said Councilor Lynch.

On city roads, councilors want more speeding and red-light cameras. They hope to expand areas where they are allowed to include business and residential districts, parks, and bridges.

And then there’s gun violence, an issue plaguing Richmond and its youth. Councilors say they need solutions.

“We shouldn’t have the type of crime that we have in the city. We shouldn’t have the type of poverty we have in this city,” said Councilor Jones.

The council is also looking for $15 million in investments around the James River for trails and to improve historical sites.