Mayor Stoney introduces new budget with no tax increases, but higher utility bills

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Mayor Levar Stoney introduced a $681 million budget earlier today that included no tax increases.

But some are saying that you may still feel an impact on your wallet.

8News reporter Matthew McClellan reports that there were no tax increases with the new budget, but monthly utility bills are going up.

Stoney proposed measures that would raise gas bills by an average of $1.77, water bills by about $2.14 and wastewater fees by about $2.65 per month. The proposed increases are part of an effort to tackle what the mayor called years of neglect to city services.

“A lot of people in my district are seniors and they can’t afford it,” said 8th district councilwoman Reva Trammell. “They’re saying their utility bills are way too high. In my district they’re saying they can’t pay them now because it keeps going up and up and up.”

5th district councilman Parker Agelasto said he supports Stoney’s focus on core city services, but pointed out that money alone will not solve the problem. “It’s going to be about operations and efficiencies and how do those various departments function?”

The mayor’s budget also includes more than $6 million in increased funding for Richmond Public Schools.This increase will go toward pay increases for teachers.

The school system has requested more than $21 million in increased funding, leaving schools with about $15 million to cut from the plan the board approved last month.

“This is the largest increase in school funding proposed by any mayor in the introduced budget under our current system,” Stoney said at a press conference Monday. “Because education is our top priority and this investment will reflect that.”

The mayor’s budget also includes money for new sonar technology to help solve crime by pinpointing exactly where shots are being fired when incidents occur.

The budget is far from final. 8News will be tracking developments out of city hall in the coming weeks. The city must adopt a budget by May 31.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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