Good morning, RVA! It's 39 °F, and, again, we’ve got highs in the 50s and a bunch of clouds in the sky. However, you can expect clear skies around lunchtime.
The Richmond City Budget has landed! You can read an overview of the highlights from the City, read the Mayor’s remarks in full (PDF), download the actual budget (PDF), and also download the Capital Improvement Program (PDF).
OK, here are a couple of unsorted bullet points about the budget before you dive in (and if these are obvious, forgive me):
- This year’s total City budget is $715,272,219. $169.1 million of that will go to Richmond Public Schools.
- This budget is balanced, meaning all the expenditures are covered by projected revenues. So if you hear anyone out there screaming into the wind that the mayor will raise taxes to pay for whatever thing, that’s just not how this works.
- The budget covers operating expenses over the next two years—ongoing costs like the Department of Public Works’s $110,455 annual fuel cost. The Capital Improvement Program (CIP), on the other hand, details one-time expenses over the next five years—like the $125,000 for new pedestrian safety improvements on Broad Street near 14th.
- The non-departmental section of the budget covers City money going to groups that are not part of the City (aka not a department)—like the $382,000 for the YMCA. This is an interesting section of the budget, and includes some big-ticket items like the entirety of GRTC’s budget request from the City of Richmond ($15,117,247).
- City Council will now look through the Mayor’s budget, hold a bunch of public meetings where every department comes in and justifies their existence, makes any tweaks they deem appropriate and then votes on the final budget by the end of May.
I haven’t had the chance to really dig in, but some of the most interesting bits that have popped out at me so far: Splitting Housing and Community Development out from the existing Department of Economic and Community Development, upping the city’s contribution to the affordable housing trust fund to $1 million annually, and adding four weeks of paid parental leave for City employees (this didn’t exist previously?!).
Also in big public transportation news, the mayor announced that he’s included funding for all RPS high school students to get free, unlimited access to GRTC. This is huge and amazing and life-changing for our youth!
The budget may seem boring, but Richmond’s priorities are written right in the thing. If we value things like education, public transportation, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and affordable housing, we should see those things reflected in the budget.
Obviously, expect more on this as the process continues!
I love the format of this piece from Justin Mattingly in the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “What to know from Monday's Richmond School Board meeting.” I hope this is a regular feature.
There’s a new episode of Sam and Ross Like Things to which you can listen. This go around Sam likes “being a regular” and I like “fixing things.” These are maybe things you like, too!
- #7 Hokies face #10 Notre Dame tonight at 7:00 PM in the ACC Tournament.
This morning's longread
This piece by NBA star Kevin Love about mental illness is excellent. The more folks that talk openly about mental illness, the better.
One of the reasons I wanted to write this comes from reading DeMar’s comments last week about depression. I’ve played against DeMar for years, but I never could’ve guessed that he was struggling with anything. It really makes you think about how we are all walking around with experiences and struggles — all kinds of things — and we sometimes think we’re the only ones going through them. The reality is that we probably have a lot in common with what our friends and colleagues and neighbors are dealing with. So I’m not saying everyone should share all their deepest secrets — not everything should be public and it’s every person’s choice. But creating a better environment for talking about mental health … that’s where we need to get to.
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