Monday, September 20, 2010

Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trail Planning Commission Wants Your Input

Mayor Jones' Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trail Planning Commission is looking for resident input on how to make Richmond a more pedestrian and bike friendly city. Please take a minute or two and share your thoughts on what the Commission can do to improve our city for you.

Thank you for your candid feedback and assistance.

http://FreeOnlineSurveys.com/rendersurvey.asp?sid=8v0c9728o1og9tz796435

Mayor Announces Manning as City's New Chief Service Officer

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today introduced Paul Manning as the city of Richmond’s first Chief Service Officer. As Chief Service Officer, Manning will serve as a senior city official, reporting to Chief Administrative Officer, Byron Marshall. Mr. Manning is charged with developing and implementing a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and target volunteers to address the city’s greatest needs.

Mayor Jones stated, “Paul Manning has a proven record as a senior level executive in the Richmond area in developing long and short term strategic business/financial plans; building financial, operational and administrative infrastructure which supports corporate objectives as well as, cultivating philanthropic donor relationships. In order to expand on our efforts to increase volunteerism, we needed an individual with the proven ability to provide proactive leadership in creating, developing and utilizing corporate resources to deliver growth of volunteerism in our city.”

Mr. Manning will be the lead for the city’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program; a program launched by Mayor Jones in April of this year designed to engage citizens in volunteerism, as they support their neighbors with a commitment to service. Neighbor-to-Neighbor projects have included mentoring to children in schools, visiting the elderly, as well as providing home repairs for elderly population, beautification projects throughout the city, supporting various special events, and youth programs to include back-to-school shopping and several others.

Manning’s position of Chief Service Officer is being funded through a Cities of Service Leadership Grant that was awarded to the city on June 30, 2010. “We went through a very competitive process with cities from across the country as only 10 cities were selected to receive the $200,000 grant over a two year period,” said city Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall. “Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the funds were made available exclusively for the hiring of a Chief Service Officer.” In addition to Richmond, Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Chula Vista, CA; Houston, TX; Little Rock, AK; Orlando, FL; and Pittsburg, PA were also selected as grant recipients.

Manning is the founder of U-Turn, Incorporated, and is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mayor Calls for Enhanced Tax Relief for the Elderly and Disabled

~Proposal submitted to City Council for action~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones is calling for enhanced tax relief for the elderly and disabled for 2011 and beyond. The Mayor's proposal follows state tax relief guidelines, but streamlines the city's current program by simplifying the relief schedule.

The Code of Virginia allows localities to provide real estate tax relief to senior and disabled homeowners who meet certain income and net worth requirements. The city of Richmond has been providing such relief, but the structure under which the city has operated shows that Richmond is below the average of its peers for maximum income and net worth guidelines as well as per person participation.

"By streamlining the current program we can increase the number of participants and provide more relief to some of our most vulnerable residents," said Mayor Jones. "With making a few simple changes, we can provide additional relief to more people without exceeding the current budget."

The Code is very flexible in regards to how each locality may determine the amount of tax relief granted to qualifying applicants. Currently, the city program has over 20 possible scenarios for the administering of the program. The Mayor's proposed changes reduce and streamline the program to four possible scenarios and make the program easier to administer.

"The amount budgeted for tax relief has consistently exceeded the amount of relief provided," Mayor Jones explained. "We are working to make this program easier to understand so that we'll reach more applicants and provide a greater level of relief." Under the proposal, an average participant with income from $20,001 to $30,000, for example, could receive up to $570 in additional relief. In some cases, this could be double the amount of relief previously received. An additional 145 households with an income of less than or equal to $20,000 will receive much needed 100% relief. Many of these households are presently only eligible for 70% relief.

The city administration plans to hold a series of workshops to educate the public about the availability of this relief if the changes are enacted. Mayor Jones indicated that he is working closely with Richmond City Councilman Marty Jewell on this effort who has expressed great support for the proposed changes.

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Mayor Jones to Announce City's First Chief Service Officer

Who: Mayor Dwight C. Jones
Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall

What: Announcement of city’s first Chief Service Officer

Where: City Hall
2nd Floor Large Conference Room
900 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

When: Monday, September 20, 2010 at 2 p.m.

Background:

Mayor Dwight C. Jones will announce the city’s first Chief Service Officer, who will develop and implement a comprehensive city-wide service plan to promote volunteerism and coordinate with Mayor Jones’ Neighbor-to-Neighbor Initiative. The position is being funded through the Cities of Service Leadership Grant which was awarded to the city of Richmond on June 30, 2010.

Richmond was one of ten cities selected to receive a $200,000 grant over two years, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, to hire a Chief Service Officer – a senior city official who will develop and implement a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and help volunteers address their city's greatest needs. The cities selected to receive the second round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants were Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Chula Vista, CA; Houston, TX; Little Rock, AK; Orlando, FL; Pittsburgh, PA; and Richmond, VA.

Mayor Jones’ Neighbor-to-Neighbor initiative is designed to inspire residents, businesses and city employees to volunteer and develop a closer relationship with their neighbor, with an express focus on helping the children, youth, elderly and disabled residents of the city of Richmond.

About Cities of Service

Founded in New York City on September 10, 2009 by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other member cities, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have answered the historic Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act’s call to action. All coalition members have signed a “Declaration of Service,” committing to work together to lead a multi-year effort to expand community service and volunteerism by:

Developing a comprehensive service plan and a coordinated strategy focused on matching volunteers and established community partners to the areas of greatest local need;
Working with other mayors and elected officials to advance strategies and best practices that accelerate the service movement and produce measurable results;
Encouraging other mayors to join this national effort to engage our citizens; and
Ensuring that the voice of cities is heard in federal legislative, policy, and program discussions related to service, which will help the country achieve the ambitious goals of the Serve America Act.

The coalition has rapidly grown since its inception in September and now includes more than 100 mayors representing more than 47 million Americans across the nation.

About Cities of Service Leadership Grants

The first round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, were awarded in January 2010. The selected cities, which have all appointed Chief Service Officers, were Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; Savannah, GA; and Seattle, WA. These ten cities will launch comprehensive service plans this fall to address problems of critical in need in their communities.

The second round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, winners were awarded in June 2010. In addition to Richmond, grants were awarded to Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Chula Vista, CA; Houston, TX; Little Rock, AR; Orlando, FL; and Pittsburgh, PA.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed the nation’s first Chief Service Officer, Diahann Billings-Burford, in June 2009.

More information about the coalition can be found at www.citiesofservice.org.

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City to hold Public Forum on Pedestrian Biking and Trails

The city of Richmond will hold a public forum on Monday, September 20, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Carillon in Byrd Park. The forum is being held to encourage input from residents on ways to make biking and walking an integral part of the city’s transportation system.

In May 2010, Mayor Dwight C. Jones established a Pedestrian Bicycling and Trails Planning Commission to provide his administration with advice on ways to make the city more pedestrian friendly. The commission divided into work groups: Economic Development; Public Policy/Legislation; Infrastructure and Physical Design; Grants and Funding; Outreach, Education and Safety; and Metrics and Evaluation. The workgroups have studied the plans and strategies of the city of Richmond, other jurisdictions as well as those of other countries.

On Monday, four of the Commission’s work groups will present some of their recommendations for public consideration. They are: Public Policy/Legislation; Economic Development; Infrastructure and Physical Design; Outreach, Education and Safety.

Residents who are unable to attend the forum can provide input through a survey that will be posted after the public forum on the city’s website at www.Richmondgov.com.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Mayor Jones Announces $6.7 Million Positive Budget Surplus

~Proposes savings as well as funding for low-income GRTC ridership, household weatherization improvements and neighborhood blight efforts~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced an estimated $6.7 million positive budget surplus for fiscal year 2010. The improved performance is attributed to the city's stepped up collection efforts, which have yielded $3.5 million more than anticipated, as well as tightened expenditure controls which have resulted in savings in overall expenditures for the past fiscal year.

"This Administration stands for well-managed government and we've been working to strengthen the city's financial operations and fiscal controls. Today's announcement reflects our improved controls and operational advances," said Mayor Jones. "As I assembled my finance team, I made a commitment to City Council that you would receive financial information on a more-timely basis. Not only is the information more timely, but it is welcomed news that gives us resources to address some other areas of concern."

Fiscal Year 2010 ended June 30th of this year. In the past, Richmond City Council received year-end budget information in the November time-frame. Mayor Jones plans to submit a paper tonight detailing his plans for the use of funds.

"We'd like to see these funds used primarily in two areas: well-managed government and what I call people-focused initiatives," said Mayor Jones. Expressing continued concern for the pending rate increase from Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC), Mayor Jones proposed $500,000 to help capitalize a fund that will subsidize GRTC ridership for the working poor and low-income riders. One million dollars is being proposed for a Neighborhood Blight Remediation program and a Low-income Weatherization Program. Another $1.7 million is being recommended for various capital improvement projects to include street, sidewalks, and bikeways. The mayor also proposed to save $3.75 million -- over half of the surplus. Two million dollars is to be designated for a revenue stabilization fund for unanticipated needs or obligations.

"Most localities agree that you cannot simply rely on state government to continue to meet many of the needs they've met in the past. We must be prepared for unforeseen obligations and this stabilization fund is a smart move for a well-managed government," said Mayor Jones.

The Mayor has asked City Council to approve the proposed expenditures within the next two weeks as the Administration has scheduled its regular visit with bond rating agencies at the end of September. The actions to establish a revenue stabilization fund, to invest in city infrastructure with non-borrowed funds, as well as efforts to reduce poverty are encouraged by the rating agencies and can help the city move toward a Triple A bond rating.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mayor Jones Reponds to Coliseum Study Interim Report


City officials, along with county and corporate partners, today received an update from the consulting team that was retained by the Coliseum Study Group to evaluate the long-term options associated with the Coliseum and the Greater Richmond area. Barrett Sports Group, LLC and Populous Architects, P.C. provided the update to the Coliseum Study Group, which consists of a group of private corporations and public sector entities.

"The market research thus far supports what we know about Richmond being an optimal location," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "Richmond is a sizable market with limited entertainment options. What we have to do now is get the right facility in the city to put us in a position to capture the events that will expand our tourism footprint where sports and entertainment are concerned."

A total of seven potential arena sites in the city of Richmond were reviewed in Phase 1 of the study. The consulting team has narrowed the options down to four locations for the group's consideration. The recommended sites include the existing Coliseum, the Public Safety Building and adjacent parking lots, the Diamond and the ABC warehouse site.

Today's report is preliminary and no conclusions have been drawn at this stage. The next phase of the study will explore economic and financial feasibility considerations in more detail, and will also assess the potential of a new or renovated facility to catalyze new development and neighborhood revitalization. There will be a public input process to evaluate recommendations.

"Tourism, sports and entertainment can help stimulate our city's economy; providing jobs and employment growth, an expanded tax base and other direct benefits to local residents," continued Mayor Jones. "We want a facility that accommodates what this market can support and what this market deserves. Dollars are leaving this area and going to other places because of the limitations of the existing facility and we are going to turn that around."

The consulting team retained by the Coliseum Study Group consists of Barrett Sports Group, LLC, Populous Architects, P.C. and Weston Sports & Entertainment. A final report is expected by mid-November.

Click here for the interim status report.


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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

City of Richmond Announces Two-Year Extension with CAA

~CAA Men's Basketball Championship to remain at Richmond Coliseum through 2014~

The city of Richmond and the Colonial Athletic Association announced today a two-year extension of their agreement to conduct the CAA Men's Basketball Championship at the Richmond Coliseum through 2014.

"We are pleased that the CAA has agreed to extend our relationship at this time," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "This is a longstanding and very important partnership for the city of Richmond as well as the Richmond region and we are working to ensure that we will continue to have a relationship well into the future."

Last year, Mayor Jones set in motion a plan to address both short and long-term issues related to improving the Coliseum. Investments have been made to improve the current facility for the short-term, and for the long-term, community partners and business leaders are involved in a review to determine the best future approach for the Coliseum structure.

“Richmond has served as the host of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship since 1990 and our current contract covers the 2011 and 2012 tournaments,” CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said. “The City of Richmond is in the process of studying the long-term future of the Richmond Coliseum and, in the spirit of partnership that we have developed with the City of the past 21 years, signing this extension provides both sides with time to chart a course for the future. We are also satisfied with the City’s commitment to enhance some of the amenities in and around the Coliseum during the on-going decision-making process.”

An economic impact study conducted during last year's tournament determined that the combined economic impact and economic significance of the conference on the Richmond Region is $5.8 million during the four days of the event. The long-term future of the Richmond Coliseum is under review with corporate partners including Dominion Resources, Genworth Financial, MeadWestvaco and Altria.

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Mayor Jones Statement Regarding Port of Richmond

The Port of Richmond is owned by the City and managed by the Port of Richmond Commission. A special session of City Council is scheduled today to discuss issues related to the lease of the Port. Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement on the matter:

“Events in the last two years have resulted in questions concerning the Port’s long-term economic benefit to the City. These events include 1) worldwide economic downturn, 2) loss of the weekly trans-Atlantic shipments, 3) loss of the long-time Port operator, and 4) declining working capital for investments in infrastructure maintenance.

“The financial condition of the Port has deteriorated to such a point that it is not generating sufficient revenue to pay its expenses. In June 2010, the City Council appropriated $1 million in general funds to the Port to cover its operating expenses and authorized another $500,000 of in-kind or cash equivalents to address the immediate infrastructure maintenance needs. While this action was necessary at that time, it is not in the best interest of the city to have an asset that is designed to be self-sustaining to consume general fund resources over the long term.

“In a June 15, 2010 letter, the Administration expressed that ‘the Commission needs to report regularly to City Council and the Administration on its business operations and future outlook. Additionally, the Port must present an in-depth business outline that details the plan for returning the Port to a viable operational status.’ A subsequent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Port Commission Chairman and the city’s Chief Administrative Officer reaffirmed these requirements.

“In July, the Administration provided the Port with almost one quarter of the $1 million general fund appropriation. This initial draw down of the appropriation has allowed the Port to pay all known obligations that have been reported to city. However, the Port is at a point where an additional draw down may be required in order to pay for obligations that have occurred during the month of August and beyond.

“While the Administration and City Council have made substantial efforts to enable the Port’s success during this difficult transitional period, at this point the Port has provided limited information concerning its business outline. This condition of the MOU between the Port and the Administration is the key condition of the provision of funds. Moreover, without a comprehensive business development and marketing plan, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Port and the city to evaluate the multiple options concerning future Port operations that are currently being discussed.

“Today, the Administration, City Council, and the Port will discuss one key option that is before the Port and analyze how that option aligns with the Port’s business outline. It is our hope that City Council, who has the authority over Port decisions, will soon be in a position to determine the best operating structure for the Port of Richmond.”

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