RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Mayor Dwight Jones highlighted Richmond’s need for cash in his “State of the City” address on Thursday night at the new Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.
“The reality is, as the city grows, so do our expenses. Our public schools, roads, and numerous other services need more money,” Jones said.
The Mayor said his plan to bring baseball to Shockoe Bottom is about generating tax revenue to pay for those services, along with creating economic development to help the city’s 26 percent poverty rate.
“The future of the city is at stake in terms of our limited opportunities to grow our tax base, and I think we have a program before the people that will generate close to 200 million dollars in 20 years, so I think we have to do it because we need money,” Jones said.
Of course, the Mayor has to sell the plan to city council and everybody is waiting to hear if they’re going to support it.
City Council Member Parker Agelasto told CBS6’s Melissa Hipolit he can’t sign off on the proposal in its current form because he still has a lot of questions about the plan’s financing.
He also said he wished the Mayor would have talked more about the city’s parks.
“We’ve got this downtown river front plan to expand our park access to the urban core, and I didn’t see enough about that, and I was sorry about that primarily because the 5th District, I consider the park district, given all the access we have to the James River Park system,” Agelasto said.
Mayor Jones also talked about the city’s schools, revealing that he has a plan to address the school system’s large maintenance needs.
Those school improvement projects would cost the city $100 million.
The Mayor said we can expect to hear the plan at his budget presentation in a few weeks.
Mayor Jones did not mention the city’s troubled Department of Social Services in his address, so CBS6’s Melissa Hipolit asked him afterwards what he is doing to fix problems raised in a recent audit.
“We are actively working on attracting personnel, and we are actively working on triaging the places where there are problems and we will correct them,” Jones said.
The Mayor told Melissa this was a much shorter “State of the City” address than last year. He said he scaled it back from 40 minutes to about 15 minutes, and the intention of this speech was really to push RVA.