The time to raise revenue is…like a billion years ago

In order to build new things we need new money. But, like, we’ve known that?

Hot on the heels of the release of the mayor’s Triple-Action Investment Plan to raise money for Richmond Public Schools’ Capital Improvement Program, Taber writes a very much true sentence:

Nobody is going to find a way to trim 20%, or even 10%, from the city’s budget without completely crippling even the most basic public services, and we can’t take back money that’s already been spent to put towards something else.

In order to build new things we’ve got to have new money. So it’s nice to hear the Mayor finally propose increasing revenue rather than just more of the same skeptical-face-inducing words about simply increasing efficiency (aside: whatever happened to his idea for a tax-raising referendum come fall?).

But, man, we’ve know about the problems this plan attempts to address for a long while now.

We’ve been aware of the crushing lack of debt capacity since at least the Stone Brewing Co. negotiations, when we briefly wondered if the money lent to them would push us over our limits.

We just finished a budget cycle where the Mayor flat-funded schools, Council debated but declined to institute a cigarette tax that is super common across the commonwealth, and, on top of all that, we’re $4 million short on last year’s budget.

To mic-drop this plan months before the election, just weeks after the city adopted its budget makes me feel sad and disappointed. It is not a secret knowledge that the City needs to increase its revenue—not just to keep up with the Henricos as Taber pointed out, but just to perform basic grass-cutting-type services. We all knew this! There was a real opportunity for our leaders to, you know, lead and get some of these things done this year. Instead, we kicked the Richmond Money Can down the road another 12 months, compounding the problem further.

Postscript

During this past budgeting session, RPS requested about $50 million for their CIP. They were given $5 million. The mayor’s proposed changes to the debt capacity, which you can read about in this very financey PDF, would only gives schools 57.7% of what they’ve requested over the next five years. Like, you guys, this is not great. The city is taking some drastic measure here, and those measures only get us halfway there.

Author: Ross Catrow

Loud clapper.