This afternoon, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones gave City Council his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes pay raises, an additional $500,000 to Richmond Public Schools and more importantly, a reduction in the base water and wastewater rates for city customers.
The budget for the fiscal year starting in June needs to be approved in May. It includes a general fund of $760.5 million, down from the present budget of $780.9 million for the budget year ending in June.
According to Jones, the city staff was able to close a $30 million budget gap, and include the $2.2 million employee pay raise without raising taxes, having layoffs or furloughs.
To break the budget proposals down, a 2 percent pay raise is in store for all city employees. Additionally, Richmond Public Schools will get the $129.4 million it requested last year as well as an added $500,000 for it's International Baccalaureate Program at the Middle School level.
The Mayor has also added an additional $2.4 million over five years to the Capital Improvement plan for school maintenance.
Responding to public outrage over the past year, and in particular, protests in September over the high rates for water in the city, Jones is proposing that the base water and wastewater rates be cut in half.
Before a single drop of water is used, city water customers must pay a base rate of $49.40. The Mayor's budget calls for combined charges to be reduced to $26.11. High volume users would end up paying more than residential households.
Jones pointed out that most households would see a 50 percent saving in their utilities, and high volume users would be more inclined to conserve water.
On the question of federal budget cuts and any impact at the local level, Mayor Jones said that with the sequester, it is difficult to make any firm conclusions. Jones did say that there could be a possibility of jobs lost and pay cuts later.