Petersburg residents weigh in on city’s financial crisis

Leo Joe.

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — There are still many unanswered questions regarding how the City of Petersburg ended up so far in debt. Now, residents are sharing their thoughts on the city’s financial crisis.

“Clean out city hall, the whole shebang,” resident Leo Joe told 8News Reporter Candice Cole. “The city council, all of them … They have to go.”

“Clean out city hall, the whole shebang. The city council, all of them … They have to go.” — Petersburg resident Leo Joe

It’s been a rough start to the week for Petersburg, beginning with the decision to cut 10 percent off salaries of city employees. That decision was made to make up for the city’s $17 million deficit, which more than doubles the $7.5 million figure previously reported. The situation has some questioning why city employees are having to pay for it.

Leo Joe.
Leo Joe.

“Why are you penalizing the people who depend on their check from week to week to live?” Joe questioned. “If any cuts should be made, they should be made at the top level. Let the people who helped put this deficit in place take responsibility for it, let them get hit in the pocket.”

The elephant in the room: why does the dollar amount keep growing, and who or what is responsible? The issue could be turning away more money from coming into the city.

Worth Kenyon of Richmond is looking to buy property in the city.

“One thing Petersburg has that Richmond doesn’t is you can get property for a cheaper price, but then with their deficit, they’re going to have to increase services, their going to have to increase property taxes, they’re going to have to increase utilities, which may take away the advantages of moving into Petersburg,” he said.

Business owners in the city’s old town district, however, said Petersburg’s financial troubles are, so far, having little impact on business in the city.

4DF6779798A84D40B8F10A6A11E83706“Despite what you might be hearing about the city’s economic woes, old town is alive and well with new restaurants opening weekly, so we’re having a little Renaissance,” said William Barr, Co-Owner of Abigail’s Antiques and Other Diversions.

8News also checked in with Petersburg Police Captain Brian Braswell, who says the current cuts won’t have any effect on the police department’s ability to serve the public. However, if this extends beyond the

However, if this extends beyond the six-month period, he said, “it could impact in recruitment possibly down the road if it goes beyond the six months,” he explained. “I can’t really say, but I hope it doesn’t. We certainly don’t want it to have a bad impact on our retention. We want to keep all the officers we can.”

City Manager Dironna Moore Belton adds that none of the city’s direct services will be impacted.

For many, hope still remains that the city’s financial problems will be fixed, reinforced by Joe who says, “The people here, we see change coming… It’s not going to happen overnight, but this is baby steps.. Just as a baby has to learn to walk, it’s the same for Petersburg. We are making a comeback. If you have not visited Petersburg in the last year, come down and let me show you what we have to offer.”

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