City council powerless to move money attached to Stone Brewing as schools and cops fight for scraps

by | May 5, 2015 | POLITICS

Competing interests have left City Council’s hands tied for many projects as budget talks continue to pit schools, city improvements, and new investments against one another.

Competing interests have left City Council’s hands tied for many projects as budget talks continue to pit schools, city improvements, and new investments against one another.

Much of the problem has been caused by concerns from teachers and police officers regarding pay and facility care. During the April 13 meeting (top image), where most of this year’s budget amendments had a public hearing, both groups had large showings requesting better treatment.

“Tonight we are asking you to amend the city’s budget to fully fund the schools’ request,” Charlotte Hayer, president of the Richmond Education Association, said during the earlier meeting. “We must provide each of our students with learning environments that enrich their lives no matter what their zip code is or how much money their parents make.”

Anthony Paciello, president of the Richmond Coalition of Police, echoed these concerns for Richmond Police Department officers, who six out of the last seven years have been denied promised pay raises.

“Unfortunately, once again we stand in front of you to battle over our pay raises,” Paciello said. “I’m here to tell you that the proposed pay plan that was put before you was not well received by the officers. The officers that have been here and done the work to bring this city in the direction that you and the city want it to go towards.”

At a previous budget work session on May 1, council proposed changes including $10 million more in school funding and an increase in some police pay. Those increases have created tight quarters for other budget programs.

The most heated discussion at Monday night’s meeting pertained to the Capital Improvement Program.

Various allocations in the program sat on the chopping block- including $5 million of $8 million allocated to the Stone Brewing Company restaurant project, approved March 2.

“As part of the funding sources in Fiscal Year 2018 there is taxable general obligation bonds of eight million dollars, there will be no draw downs of from that bond until 2018,” Ed Mangold, the Interim Budget Manager of the Department of Budget and Strategic Planning said. “This is a funding source specifically for the Stone Bistro. If the funding $5 million dollars is taken out of that project you cannot use it…for anything else.”

Because of the commitment the city has made to Stone Brewing, the council was essentially powerless to move any of that $8 million.

Another contested cut during Monday’s meeting was an allocation of about $10 million to help replace police and fire radios. The council wanted to push some money down the line to a later fiscal year. The matter is still up for debate.

Dove Elementary School, a pet project of sixth district councilwoman Ellen Robertson, was almost completely cut with the fat. Council staff proposed a massive 13 million dollar cut to the school’s appropriation, effectively ending the efforts to build the school.

“Right now, it looks like you snatched all my money,” Robertson said.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

more in politics

Matt Strickland and the Image of Strength He Must Demonstrate

Strickland Appeared before the Virginia Board of Elections “Buy the ticket, take the ride” is that old proverbial saying coined by Hunter S Thompson. I prefer the saying “take the ride, pay for the ticket. Now is almost the time for Matt Strickland to pay for the...

Richmond’s Next Mayor? Get to Know Garrett Sawyer

Today, I’m getting a drink with a politician. Coffeeshop, lunch spot, in-studio - those are perfectly fine places to get to know someone, but there’s nothing like a good whiskey to loosen up a conversation. Garrett Sawyer is meeting me at The Camel for happy hour on a...

Richmond’s Next Mayor? Get to Know Maurice Neblett

I’m starting to really enjoy these interviews. My favorite part? Staying in touch with all of the candidates. They’ve all sent me prompts on issues they care about since our individual conversations; not one in aggrandizement of their contributions to anything. Just,...

Richmond’s Next Mayor? Get to Know Harrison Roday

It’s raining fucking buckets. It’s cold, 4pm, and I want to go home. But I’m about to do that weird half-run, scrunched-shoulders thing into Blanchard's Coffee Shop on Broad street to meet Harrison Roday, candidate for Mayor. They’re gonna close soon too. He’s a new...