Earlier this month, I joined three of my colleagues in opposing the adoption of the city budget to allow us two more weeks more to get the latest financial updates and impact of the COVID-19 crisis on city services for the rest of this fiscal year and next year. Law allows Council until May 31 to approve the budget. And in typical fashion, the financials with the latest impact COVID-19 is having on revenues (that the Mayor promised Council and the people almost a month ago) was delivered to us just moments before the vote.
There is good reason to believe that the 5 percent in cuts for next year’s budget will not be enough to prevent disruption to city services and possible layoffs given the sharp decline in revenues. It is an unknown at this point, but what is known is that more cuts could have been made without laying off employees and affecting their families. I believe it’s better to be cautious and plan more throughly with the latest information and projections than ignore reality. Another two weeks would have helped us be better prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Concerning closing out this year’s budget, late in this process the Mayor said the City we will face a deficit of $6.2 million and simply proposed using almost half of the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget. His claims of having saved $11 million in discretionary spending cuts were not backed up by any specifics. We need a mayor with the courage to do more, and do whatever we can, to balance the budget while using as little of the Rainy Day fund as possible.
Real leaders make tough choices. Richmond needs a leader now that makes the tough decisions in the best interest of the entire city. As mayor, I will never shy away from tough decisions for the sake of politics.
– Kim Gray for Mayor of Richmond