Mayor Stoney’s $2.9B budget

‘We are stronger than we’ve ever been’

Free Press staff report | 3/28/2024, 6 p.m.
In delivering his 2025 City of Richmond Budget speech yesterday, Mayor Levar M. Stoney praised his budget team for “working ...
Mayor Stoney

In delivering his 2025 City of Richmond Budget speech yesterday, Mayor Levar M. Stoney praised his budget team for “working tirelessly year-round to ensure our financial house is in order.”

The mayor then laid out his $2.9 billion spending plan, with $1 billion of it in the general fund.

“That means our overall general fund revenues have grown by almost 40% since fiscal year 2017,” he said. “We certainly do not have every dollar we need to fix all of our problems. But there is no doubt we have grown as a city, we have persevered through crises, and we are stronger than we have ever been.”

Reiterating many of the accomplishments cited in his Jan. 30 State of the City address, Mayor Stoney noted the city’s 22% reduction in poverty, 22% reduction in violent crime, nearly 50% increase in funding for Richmond Public Schools, and a 1,200 % increase in affordable housing projects among other achievements.

“Now, we are a city that is ranked the No.1 place to live in Virginia,” he said, adding that his final budget will enable Richmond’s continued success at “Virginia’s premier city.”

He said his operating budget and $460.2 million FY25 Capital Improvement Plan, “allow us to continue to make critical investments in our shared priorities.” Those priorities include:

• High-quality public education and wrap-around support services for our children and families;

• Access to affordable housing and support for our unhoused population;

• Investments in our dedicated city employees, including our first responders;

• Maintaining and improving quality streets, facilities, parks, and city services; and,

• Support services and resources for our neighborhoods.

Mayor Stoney also detailed his plans to continue strengthening neighborhood and “critical city services.” His budget includes $500,000 to restructure the city’s Human Services Division into a Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. This department will be under the leadership of DCAO Traci DeShazor and emphasize three components, he said. Beginning with:

• Neighborhood Engagement – Focused outreach to neighborhoods and civic associations through newly appointed neighborhood specialists. This division will provide an enhanced link between our community and city services. This will also include a newly appointed Small Business Liaison to ensure smoother navigation of city services for small businesses.

• Neighborhood Services – Stronger alignment and collaboration between existing offices, such as the Office of Children and Families, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Engagement and the Office of Aging.

• Homeless Services – Dedicating $200,000 to a new Office of Homeless Services with a fully dedicated team to support our unhoused population. Overall, this department creates a more comprehensive and coordinated service delivery model for our community with feedback from our new neighborhood specialists.

Other initiatives include:

• Dedicating $1 million toward modernizing our 311 Call Center.

• Directing $5.6 million in Department of Information and Technology enhancements, which includes RVA Pay.

• Proposing a $15.8 million increase to RPS’operating budget.

• $1.2 million to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities to continue the activation of Southside, Powhatan, and Randolph community centers -and to support the expansion of their affordable afterschool program to every RPS elementary school.

• $888,000 to maintain and grow afterschool expanded learning programs at every middle school.

• $767,000 for staffing and operation of the new community centers, including Lucks Field, TB Smith and Southside.

• $1 million for our Positive Youth Development Fund to support community-based programs for youth ages 12 to 19.

• And $414,000 to the We Matter RVA youth violence prevention program.

The mayor also said that in working with Thrive Birth to Five, an independent entity designated by the Virginia Department of Education to administer a unified public-private early child care and education system for Richmond, “we are establishing

Richmond’s first Child Care and Education Trust Fund, with an initial investment of $1 million from the City. With $500,000 in reallocated American Rescue Plan funds and a recurring investment of $500,000 in the FY25 budget.”

The mayor also is proposing $250,000 for the Pathways Program, $500,000 for the Richmond Resilience Initiative, and $1 million for the Family Crisis Fund in FY25. These investments will not only give hard-working residents room to breathe but also an opportunity to dream again.

“We are also investing another $5 million for the redevelopment of Creighton Court,” he said. “This project is managed by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and HUD and will result in a mixed-income, vibrant community of choice for our residents.

“When I ran for mayor, I committed to supporting RRHA with their redevelopment efforts because our residents deserve better housing conditions. Since 2017, we have invested over $25 million into RRHA projects through a combination of local and federal dollars.”