Monday, March 19, 2018

Mayor Stoney Appoints Senior Policy Advisor

Mayor Levar M. Stoney today is pleased to announce that community advocate and educator Osita Iroegbu is joining the administration as a Senior Policy Advisor. A Richmond native who currently lives in South Richmond, Iroegbu will be responsible for advancing the mayor’s priorities in community engagement, diversity and inclusion.

“I’m excited to have Osita join our team,” said Mayor Stoney. “Her years of experience and engagement in the Richmond community as an educator, journalist and advocate for social justice make her the right person for the important job of helping everyone in our city share in the vision of One Richmond.”

The mayor’s new advisor welcomes the challenge. “I’m eager to work with Mayor Stoney and his team to achieve greater progress for residents in every part of my hometown,” said Iroegbu, who grew up in Richmond’s Hillside public housing neighborhood. “I look forward to engaging our diverse communities and helping to ensure their voices are included in policy efforts as we collectively work to move our city forward.”

A first generation Nigerian-American, Iroegbu was named as a 2017 Governor’s Fellow in the Virginia Children’s Cabinet and a 2017 Initiatives of Change/Hope in the Cities Community Trustbuilding Fellow.

She is a former reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where she covered education, government and public safety and focused on underserved communities in the Greater Richmond region. She also served as an instructor and assistant director of university relations at Virginia State University, and managed public relations at the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority from 2010 to 2014. 

Iroegbu is currently a member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia’s Next Generation Steering Committee, which works to mobilize and support young social justice activists and emerging community leaders within the Commonwealth, and is part of Initiatives of Change’s facilitator cohort designed to support the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation effort aimed at fostering narrative change and relationship building for sustained racial equity in Richmond.

She is founder of the Little Princesses Mentoring Program, which links young girls in at-risk communities with positive college mentors and enrichment experiences in higher education, and co-founder of the African Community Network of Greater Richmond, a non-profit organization aimed at providing, resources and advocacy to local African immigrant families and building multicultural unity.

Iroegbu earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Delaware and a Master’s Degree in Journalism and Public Affairs from American University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Media Art and Text doctoral program.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Mayor Stoney Delivers Budget Proposal for FY 2019/2020

Today Mayor Levar M. Stoney delivered his biennial budget proposal for FY 2019/2020 to City Council. The proposed $715.2 million budget for the coming year is fully balanced, and all expenses are in line with current revenue projections.

“This is a fiscally responsible and lean budget, but this plan still manages to continue to invest, and even improve and expand upon our support for targeted priorities in core services, public safety, poverty mitigation and education, said Mayor Stoney.

The following are some of the highlights from the proposed budget:
  • Reinvestment of $12.5 million of Richmond Public Schools balances to meet local funding requests for 2019
  • $3.3 million in funding to continue the salary decompression and step pay increases instituted last year for both police and firefighters
  • An additional $1 million toward the paving program to pave an additional 20 lane miles for the improvement of neighborhood streets
  • A reduction in the water rate for all single family residential customers (meaning the average residential customer will see a $3.70 decrease in their bill)
  • Creation of a new Department of Citizen Service and Response to oversee the 311 Call Center

  • Creation of a new Performance Management Office to track the implementation of key priorities and help grow a culture of accountability and success
  • Creation of a new Department of Housing and Community Development from reallocation of resources from the Office of Economic and Community Development
  • Four new positions for the Richmond Police Department dedicated to serving the needs of public housing communities

  • An investment of more than $630,000 in a pilot program with the Department of Parks and Recreation to extend hours of operation at six recreation sites
  • A substantial increase in the investment in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, from $731,000 in 2018 to $1 million per year in fiscal years 2019 and 2020

  • Increase funding for Richmond Behavioral Health Authority by $733,000
  • Free, on an unlimited basis, bus rides for every Richmond Public high school student provided by the Greater Richmond Transit Corporation for an entire year
  • At least one full-service, out-of-school time provider for every Richmond elementary and middle school
  • A 1 percent salary increase for non-sworn, non-constitutional officer employees to take effect in January of 2019 and an additional 1 percent increase in 2020

  • Four weeks of paid maternity leave for birth mothers and 4 weeks of paid parental bonding leave for the birth of a child (City of Richmond employees)
  • A budget amendment to include a 1% Cost of Living Adjustment for former City of Richmond employees if the 2018 fiscal year ends with a surplus

“If we don’t think ambitiously, and creatively, about how investments today can pay big dividends tomorrow, then we are little more than caretakers of the way things are, de facto defenders of the status quo,” said Mayor Stoney. “That is not good enough for me.

“This is a challenge we cannot turn down, and this is a test we must pass – not just to be fiscally balanced and to check all the boxes to meet our financial obligations, but to be creative, ambitious and to invest in our shared priorities: a well-run city, a safer city, a healthy city and a city of opportunity, One Richmond, committed to the promise of a brighter future for all of its residents.”

Read the mayor’s remarks as prepared for delivery here.
The proposed biennial budget can be found here.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Mayor Stoney Makes Three More Administration Appointments

Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the appointment of three highly-qualified professionals to fill three additional executive positions presently held by interim appointees.

Acting Directors of Human Resources, Korita Brown Jones, and Information Technology, Charles G. Todd, have been promoted to positions of director, while Albemarle County’s recent Director of Finance, Betty J. Burrell, has been hired to serve as Richmond’s new Director of Procurement Services.

“Once again, we are most fortunate to have the best-of-the-best accepting these critically important leadership positions,” said Mayor Stoney. “While bringing renewed accountability to City Hall is an ongoing process and an especially concerted effort, our success is predicated upon the quality and dedication of our employees and people we have leading our departments.

“Korita, Charles and Betty all bring a wealth of experience, ideas and vigor to our administration, and I welcome them in these positions and look forward to all we will accomplish working together during my term.”

Korita Brown Jones has worked for the City of Richmond since January 2008.  She began her career with the city as a human resources (HR) consultant and worked on a variety of joint personnel-related projects through the former RichmondWorks initiative. 

Korita was previously promoted to Council Policy Analyst by Richmond City Council, and again to serve as council’s first HR liaison. In 2015, she was promoted to serve as the Division Chief of Compensation and Benefits in the Department of Human Resources, where she was instrumental in administering that year’s employee salary increases, launching the city’s high deductible health insurance plan with a city-sponsored health savings account and completing the city’s first comprehensive compensation study. Over the last year, Korita has served as interim HR Director.

Prior to the City of Richmond, Korita was employed with Springsted Incorporated, Genworth Financial and Chesterfield County, Virginia. She is a native of Petersburg, VA and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from Virginia State University.

Charles G. Todd has worked for the City of Richmond in the Department of Information Technology (DIT) since 2013, when he was appointed manager of the department’s applications bureau and was responsible for six teams providing application development and management for all city agencies. This followed a 2012 contract appointment from Modis, where he led an application development and management team supporting nine city agencies. In 2015, he was promoted to Deputy Director for DIT Operations, overseeing the applications, infrastructure and end user services bureaus. Since then, he has served as interim director for the department.

Prior to his employment with the city, Charles worked for 17 years as an officer, vice president and senior vice president for Bank of America. There he was responsible for systems conversions, process reengineering, application development, CRM infrastructure, distributed systems, business intelligence and enterprise architecture. Charles is a native of Richmond and received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Virginia Tech.

Betty J. Burrell has served in local government for over 35 years, including a decade in procurement leadership during her tenure as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the City of Portsmouth, VA. She most recently held the position of Finance Director for Albemarle County, VA, where she led the local government and schools purchasing divisions, real estate and local tax assessments and collections, payroll, accounts payable and financial reporting. 

Betty also led Albermarle’s team that implemented Purchasing Cards (P-cards), which resulted in operational cost savings, rebate revenue generation and improved accountability, reporting and data analytics.

Betty holds a Master of Science in Administration with a concentration in Public Administration degree from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Averett University. 

“I cannot be more pleased with the leadership team we’ve put together,” said Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn.  “Human resources, procurement and information technology are key focal points in the backbone of our administration, and I am most pleased to welcome these talented individuals to their new positions.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mayor Stoney Signs Letter to Congress Requesting Full Funding for Public Housing Programs

Today Mayor Levar M. Stoney joined mayors across the country in calling on Congress to fully fund the federal government’s public housing obligations. There are over one million households across the nation in public housing and adequate funding and a renewed commitment are essential to ensuring these residences are well-maintained, safe and healthy places to live.

Mayor Stoney added his name to a letter being sent to Congressional leaders by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. It reads, in part:
“The difficulty of finding an affordable place to live becomes a greater challenge as cities continue to grow and become more crowded. This has been exacerbated for years as the federal government has decreased its investment in public housing. Cities have had to fill the gaps, taking on the responsibility of addressing repairs and capital improvements… We urge you to propose targeted increases to HUD’s public housing programs in order to improve the lives and living conditions for all public housing authority residents.”

“The simple fact is that for decades, the federal government has let our public housing residents down,” said Mayor Stoney. “We are committed to addressing the current issues we face as a city, but we need our leaders in Washington to step up and work with our nation’s mayors toward long term solutions.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Statement of Mayor Levar M. Stoney on Gov. Northam's order to lower flags to honor the Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker

“I’d like to thank Gov. Northam for honoring the Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker by ordering the flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia lowered to half-staff February 14 - 17.

As Dr. Martin Luther King’s chief of staff at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Walker was a pivotal figure and leader in our nation’s struggle for civil rights. Dr. Walker’s work is still relevant and important today, and his impact on our commonwealth and our nation deserves our respect and recognition. Accordingly, I have instructed staff to lower the flag of the City of Richmond during this time period to honor and commemorate the life of Dr. Walker.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mayor Levar M. Stoney Statement on City Council Passage of Meals Tax Proposal to Fund School Facilities

“Tonight, the City of Richmond sent a strong message to its students that it is no longer willing to kick the can down the road when it comes to providing them with modern, safe and healthy environments in which to learn. This is just the first big step in what will be many more steps to improve our schools for our children, and for the generations of Richmond Public School students to come. After decades of telling them to wait, tonight we put them first. We are moving full-steam ahead with our plan to generate $150 million in new school construction and renovation of facilities that have been neglected for far too long.

This was not an easy decision, and it does not solve all of our schools’ challenges, but it was important that we get started now. I’d like to thank the members of City Council tonight for understanding the urgency and importance of our needs and having the courage to take action. And I would like to thank the Richmond School Board and Superintendent Jason Kamras for their advocacy and leadership for the children under their care. Through our Education Compact, we will continue to work together to tackle the challenges that lie ahead and forge solutions that will not only benefit our students but also make our city stronger.

To the restauranteurs who supported this proposal and those who had reservations about it, you are part of what makes Richmond a great place to live, work and play. I will continue to be a champion for you, and I look forward to finding ways that we can make it easier for you to do business and continue to thrive.

The large number and wide range of individuals and organizations who have supported this initiative – from education advocates to the real estate and business community to RPS teachers, parents and students – reinforce the broad consensus that we must move forward. Our kids can’t wait, and you heard their voices.

Our children face a brighter future. Now let’s make it happen.”

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mayor Levar M. Stoney Statement on Endorsement of School Funding Proposal by Education Advocates

“Richmond has a strong legacy of champions for public education, and I was pleased to join some of them today at George Wythe High School in support of our proposal to improve the lives of our school children.

I am grateful to receive the support of the Richmond Education Association, Richmond Teachers for Social Justice and Support Our Schools, as well as RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras and School Board Chairwoman Dawn Page, for my plan to create $150 million in school construction and renovations. These education advocates know firsthand the poor conditions and unhealthy learning environment our children have been subjected to for decades. 

For far too long the problem has been ignored and we all know that the time to act is now. Their strong message echoes my message – our kids can’t wait any longer and this plan is the first step to action.”