Richmond City Council passes budget, amendment for oversight on spending

Updated: May. 15, 2017 at 10:42 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A divided Richmond City Council approved a $690 million budget, Monday night. With it, a controversial amendment that adds Council oversight to interdepartmental money transfers that the mayor's administration used to make independently.

Council member Parker Agelasto says the need for this oversight predates Levar Stoney's administration.

"What was done poorly under the former mayor, is going to take a long time to fix," said Agelasto.

Agelasto says this amendment will start to clean up corrupt practices he claims became "institutionalized" at City Hall. Agelasto is also disappointed that this amendment is seemingly overshadowing an otherwise successful budget process.

Funding for public safety and public education are up. The mayor's administration lands a win on the budget with a new method for trash and leaf clean up.

But the overshadowing isn't exclusively because Mayor Stoney has been so vocally opposed to the amendment, nor public outcry, nor a media fixation. Members of council have big concerns about this amendment, specifically that council and the administration have no clue how they're going to implement this and what it will actually look like.

Council member Andreas Addison voted against the budget, specifically because of the oversight amendment. NBC12 asked Addison if this added responsibility was too much for council to take on, in addition to its other duties.

"That's a great question. Ya know, I think we don't really understand that value of transfers that go on in the budget," replied Addison.

Mayor Stoney says an administration could approve 50-100 of these money transfers in a given year. Unless council acts with an expedited process, which it promises it can and would in emergencies, each of these transfers would become a regular city ordinance that can take upwards of 60 days to approve.

Mayor Stoney says this process will "gum-up" city government:

Tonight's vote takes micromanaging to a new level.  It will make city government less efficient and make it harder to deliver the services our residents deserve.

I'm disappointed Council did not even consider my proposal to increase transparency without gumming up City Hall.

There is a reason no other locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia follows this type of budgeting practice – it's bad policy.

Richmond deserved better tonight.

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