Richmond mayor lays out plan for 2015 budget - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Richmond mayor lays out plan for 2015 budget

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones unveiled his budget plans for the City in 2015 Thursday afternoon.

Jones is focusing on adding millions to causes like school maintenance and battling poverty. The mayor also proposed a hike in utility rates.

Jones told a gaggle of reporters he's proud his administration was able to fill budget gaps for next year without having to layoff or furlough City employees. City workers won't have to pay more towards rising health insurance costs, either.

Jones' plan for a $777 million dollar general fund budget leaves no debt. Of that, $194 million is slated to fund anti-poverty programs and the mayor hopes to add more than $3 million to that figure.

He also aims to increase school maintenance funding over the next several years by nearly $15 million.

The real estate tax rate won't go up. However, a change that's likely to get some backlash is a proposed rise in utility rates for gas, water and wastewater. It's an estimated hike of about $6 a month for a household paying for all three utilities.

"There are some things we have no control over. When our prices increase, we have to pass that on. We try to avoid that as much as possible," said Jones.

The mayor rejected a storm water hike, for now. His administration is trying to find ways to make the city's storm water system more efficient and up to new federal standards, before passing those costs onto residents.

Another change the mayor hopes to make is combining the 911 emergency dispatch center with the Richmond's ambulance dispatch center. The goal is to save money and achieve faster response times.

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