Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mayor Jones Declares Local State of Emergency for Winter Storm

Mayor Dwight C. Jones declared a local state of emergency at 8:45 a.m. today, January 30, 2010, due to the winter storm forecasted to impact the city of Richmond this weekend. The city also activated its emergency operations center (EOC) at 7:00 a.m. which will be in operation throughout the day.

The emergency declaration and EOC activation is a proactive approach to emergency preparedness and will aid in providing for the safety and well being of citizens in the City, Commonwealth, and Nation. The city’s EOC will operate in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

As temperatures are expected to remain below freezing for the next several days, conditions may not allow for some city streets to be completely cleared. The city asks that residents remain inside and not travel if at all possible. If it becomes necessary to travel under these hazardous conditions, then please consider the following suggestions:

  • If you do have to drive, drive cautiously and decrease speed;
  • Have a full tank of gas;
  • Completely clear snow and ice from your vehicle before driving;
  • Have a cell phone with a full charge with you;
  • Have cold weather items, such as coats and blankets in your vehicle;
  • Be cautious and aware of children playing in the snow;
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake;
  • Increase distance between you and the vehicle in front of you;
  • Remember overpasses freeze before surface roads and ice may form on the bridges;
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills; and
  • If you begin to lose control of your vehicle take your foot off the gas and steer back on course.


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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mayor to Testify on Gun Show Loophole

Who: Mayor Dwight C. Jones

What: House Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1

When: 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 28, 2010

Where: General Assembly Building, 5th Floor West Conference Room

Background:
Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Chairman of the Virginia Chapter of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, will testify today on HB 1234 as patroned by Delegate Jennifer McClellan. HB 1234 is before the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 and adds a definition of "firearms show vendor" and requires that a criminal history record information check be performed on the prospective transferee before the vendor may transfer firearms at a gun show. Under current law, only licensed dealers must obtain such a check. The bill also adds a definition of "promoter" and requires that the promoter of a gun show provide vendors with access to licensed dealers who will conduct the criminal background check.

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Mayor Comments on Federal Rail Stimulus Award

Following today's announcement of a $75 million grant award to teh Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement:

"We are excited to see forward movement on the improvements to passenger rail service between Richmond and Washington, DC. The plans to transform America's transportation system will essentially have the effect of transforming our city to the Tier One city we all know it can be. These steps towards high speed rail expansion will help us build a solid foundation for economic competitiveness. Safe and energy efficient transportation choices will attract new employers and young professionals and increase the city's tax base. The critical Richmond to Washington, DC corridor is in line with my vision for Richmond to become a world-class city."


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mayor Dwight Jones' Annual State of the City Address

WHO: Mayor Dwight C. Jones

WHAT: Mayor's annual State of the City address

WHEN: Tuesday, January 26, 2010
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Richmond CenterStage
Carpenter Theatre
600 East Grace Street
Richmond, VA 23219

BACKGROUND:
Mayor Jones will provide an account of the current state of Virginia's capital city during his initial State of the City address. Address highlights will include the budget shortfalls the Jones' Administration resolved in early 2009 as well as detailing the strategy to overcome forecasted budgetary challenges. Other address highlights include economic development, schools, infrastructure, quality of life, public safety, and building Richmond's future as a tier one city.

Complimentary parking will be available across from the Grace Street side of CenterStage. Parking entrances are on 6th and 7th Streets.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110

Monday, January 11, 2010

City Budget Gap in $30 Million Range for FY2011

~FY2010 picture shows an improvement while structural imbalance remains~

Prior to its first meeting of the new decade, City Council members met with Mayor Dwight C. Jones over an informal breakfast today to discuss the city’s plans related to the previously announced FY2010 budget shortfall. Mayor Jones convened the breakfast briefing to also begin a review of the FY2011 budget forecast.

The Administration initially announced the current year (FY2010) budget gap in November of last year. However, new indicators have reduced the anticipated shortfall from $10.3 million to an estimated $2.8 million. “This is largely a result of unanticipated improvements in real estate and sales tax performance, as well as a better picture of State Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT),” said Mayor Jones. “Preliminary indicators suggest that real estate assessments should generate approximately $4 million more than anticipated and that the sales tax picture has improved and should also be positively impacted by the statewide tax amnesty program.”

Mayor Jones cautioned that while the FY2010 picture has improved, the anticipated challenges for FY2011 and beyond remain as the ongoing economic crisis continues. “While we are in a position to adequately address the current year fiscal challenges through a mixture of upward revisions to revenue, one-time savings opportunities, and minimal expenditure reductions; these strategies will offer us little assistance for FY2011,” said Mayor Jones.

“The problem for 2011 is a problem involving three factors: 1) our local revenues will show a very small percentage increase next year, 2) State revenues will likely decline – maybe even significantly, and 3) the projections for some key spending items show big increases. We face a structural imbalance that will result in a gap in the range of $30 million for FY2011.”

The mayor also noted that state cuts will likely cause an increase to that number pointing out the $7 million in cuts that the city is now aware of in the proposed state budget crafted by outgoing Governor Tim Kaine. The city will not have a final number to work with until the General Assembly completes their consideration of the state budget in late-March.

“Clearly closing a gap of approximately $30 million will not be a simple process. We are going to have to look squarely at agency consolidations, possible targeted layoffs and furloughs, outsourcing of services and even elimination of some services,” said Mayor Jones.

City officials are developing a process that will allow for employee input into the budget decisions and there are plans to engage the community through a series of town hall meetings with the public to discuss priorities.

Major driving factors for the structural imbalance the City faces include retirement and health care costs. The Administration noted that the five-year forecast suggests that the City will continue to face double-digit imbalances for the foreseeable future.

“It is inevitable that we will be forced to make some painful decisions as we navigate our way through this period of economic crisis. While we must respond to the immediate needs, ultimately we need to implement strategies that will help us grow our way out of economic uncertainty,” said Mayor Jones. “We cannot tax our way out of these kinds of situations, I want us to grow the city’s tax base and increase the revenue stream so that we are less vulnerable to economically challenging times. We need to focus on strategic investments which lead to economic development and job growth.”

The Administration has already proposed the consolidation of the Departments of Community Development and Economic Development. The Mayor is also emphasizing the importance of a regional approach for some of the broader issues like transit issues, tourism and sports matters connected to the Coliseum and the Diamond, as well as High Speed Rail.

The Finance Committee of City Council will receive detailed plans related to the FY 2010 shortfall and the FY2011 forecast at its scheduled meeting on January 21, 2010. Several policy papers are also being developed for Council consideration related to the City’s financial practices, economic and community development, employee heath benefits, and multi-modal transportation issues. A budget calendar is being developed for Council consideration and it is anticipated that, pending Council approval, the administration will submit its FY2011 budget plans on April 7, 2010.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110