Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Stoney’s budget proposal would create education trust, raise employee pay

Mayor Stoney delivers remarks
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Mayor Levar Stoney deliver his proposed budget to the City Council on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at City Hall in Richmond, Virginia.

The $2.9B budget would also hike utility bills.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney made his final budget proposal Wednesday to City Council.

He said the $2.9-billion budget prioritizes workforce development, education and childcare, affordable housing and more.


Richmond City Council adopted a collective bargaining ordinance in 2022, opening the door for five groups of public employees — police, fire and emergency services, labor and trades, professional, and administrative and technical — to come to the bargaining table as units.

So far, the police, fire and emergency services, and administrative and technical units have made labor agreements. Stoney’s proposed budget reflects those deals, among other commitments, with the following allocated for pay increases:

  • $9.1 million for police, fire and emergency services
  • $3 million for administrative and technical
  • $3 million for a 4% raise across all other city employees

Stoney’s budget would increase the minimum wage for city employees to $20 an hour — $8 above the state’s minimum. The proposal also allocates $2 million for targeted pay increases for positions making below the regional average.
“As a city, we have to be competitive,” Stoney told council.

The mayor also highlighted an extension of parental leave from four to eight weeks and a new health clinic program for employees.

Education and childcare

If council approves the budget, the city’s contribution to Richmond Public Schools will increase by $15.8 million to $237.3 million.

Stoney’s proposed Capital Improvement Projects budget, which covers longer-term city efforts, would allocate $200 million for new school construction in 2029.

The General Fund budget, which allocates money for Fiscal Year 2025 and will top $1 billion for the first time this year if approved, would set aside $1 million for a Child Care and Education Trust Fund to provide access to childcare and preschool programs for children up to the age of 5. The budget also includes:

  • $888,000 for afterschool programs at RPS middle schools
  • $1 million for the Positive Youth Development Fund to support community programs for youth between the ages of 12 and 19
  • $414,000 for We Matter RVA youth violence prevention programs

Affordable housing

Stoney said his administration will also prioritize keeping families housed — and is proposing money to support people facing eviction with legal support, as well as getting families who have been evicted back on their feet. That includes $1 million for the city’s Eviction Diversion Program and $500,000 for a legal counsel pilot program.

The mayor is also proposing $4.2 million in FY25 to support shelters and services for unhoused people. Stoney said Henrico County would add about $1 million to those efforts, contributing to the city’s regional approach to homelessness.

Major projects

The budget proposal includes a handful of projects the city would put more than $5 million toward:

  • $21 million to the Complete Streets program, which covers everything from repaving to sidewalks to bike lanes
  • $10 million to improve Brown’s Island in collaboration with Venture Richmond by increasing tree cover, spaces for children to play and ADA accessibility
  • $14 million to deferred maintenance needs — which Stoney said totals $293 million
  • $6.1 million for the Fall Line Trail
  • $5.6 million to the Department of Information Technology, including $2.3 million for RVA Pay and Department of Finance improvements


Half a million dollars would go toward the creation of the Department of General Services to manage special capital projects, the city fleet and parking. Another $500,000 would set up the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services.

Stoney said DNCS is a restructuring of the city’s Human Services framework that will use neighborhood liaisons to hear and meet needs at a hyper-local scale.

The budget also sets aside $200,000 for a Department of Homeless Services.

“Each of our neighborhoods are vibrant and dynamic ecosystems made up of residents, families and businesses,” Stoney said. “For each to thrive, we must support every facet of them and make it easier for residents and businesses alike to access the services needed from their local government.”

Taxes and rates

Utility bills likely will go up again for Richmond residents.

Average monthly residential bills for natural gas would increase by $2.96, water bills by $0.82 and wastewater bills by $3.59 under the proposal.

The largest proposed increase by percentage is stormwater: The city said an average residential stormwater bill will increase by $0.56 or 10.75%.

The General Assembly included $50 million in its proposed state budget for the city’s Combined Sewer Overflow rehab project, a significantly smaller sum than the $300 million requested by Richmond officials. They said the GA’s decision doesn’t have an immediate impact on the city budget, as a majority of the most expensive portions of the CSO project are years down the line.

The city is not proposing any changes to personal property or real estate tax rates.

Budget process

Stoney’s announcement kicks off two months of public hearings on the $2.9-billion proposal. Council members will hear from city residents and officials throughout the process, and submit their own amendments to the budget for consideration.

Officials noted the mayor’s office and council have already been working together, resulting in some council priorities — like $250,000 for neighborhood climate resilience grants — already appearing in the proposal. That collaboration also delayed the release of the budget language.

City planning documents said the major driver of the General Fund increase was — like last year — real estate taxes, though growth in that area is expected to slow over the next fiscal year.

The first public budget work session is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. April 8 in council chambers.

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.