The Annotated City Council: Agenda for April 11th

Budget budget BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET budget. Budget!

Another fortnight, another City Council meeting! This one has a slightly smaller spate of ordinances and resolutions, because it’s Budget Time.

Check out the full agenda (PDF) straight from the source.

Don’t forget, this all could be changed in whatever magic process they do just before the meeting starts that changes what the agenda is.

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ORD. 2016-092 AKA “The Let’s Make Sure Proceeds from Selling School Property Goes Back into School Board Operations Ordinance”

Might as well make sure there aren’t any loopholes so that the City can’t sell a school property and not put that money back into schools, you know? Specifically, (if this ordinance is passed) that money will go to “support the educational curriculum and programming of public schools in the City.”

Also, City Council can use funds from that reserve for the general operating budget of public schools, as submitted by the School Board of the City of Richmond.

ORD. 2016-093 AKA “The Idlewood Avenue Ordinance”

2804 Idlewood Avenue will be getting a special use permit for non-medical professional office use. This is OK according to the Master Plan, which has designated that property for Single Family (Medium Density) land use. And although most of the properties along that row are one-to-two family dwellings, this has been approved as non-detrimental to the area around it. It’ll just be offices for the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation staff, which sounds harmless enough–although I bet you got a little nervous when you saw those Greek words, didn’t you? But no, this will not be a frat-house-turned-business. Do not fret.

ORD. 2016-094 AKA “The Audit Committee Membership Ordinance”

This ordinance will amend the existing code to demand that the five non-City Council members on the Audit Committee include one CPA, one lawyer, and one with experience in financial services. The other two members will still be City Council members. Sucks to be ANY of those members, if you ask us.

ORD. 2016-098 AKA “The East of Capitol Square Ordinance”

In order to make some improvements that will make getting to the new Main Street Station a lot easier, the City is nabbing some little parcels of land along 12th Street/Governor Street.

ORD. 2016-100 AKA “The Clean Fleet Ordinance”

The City’s getting $99,125 from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy so that they can replace Department of Public Works’ fleet of vehicles with ones that run on natural compressed gas. This ordinance will approve the acceptance of that money.

RES. 2016-R008 AKA “The Policies and Procedures Manual Resolution”

City Council is adopting a Policies and Procedures Manual! Let us all rejoice and be glad! Let us be disturbed that apparently one didn’t exist before now!

RES. 2016-R025 AKA “The Date with Dad Third District Resolution”

Be it resolved! City Council is going to give $1,500 to the Third District to donate to Girls for a Change, the organization that puts on the Date with Dad weekend–a weekend that I sure do wish would reconsider its name, but a weekend that is very popular nonetheless! Promoting stronger family bonds is something we can all get into.

RES. 2016-R026 AKA “The Date with Dad Sixth District Resolution”

Same-same, just for the Sixth District, which either needs less money or just gets less. Either way, it’s $500 from Council Districts Funds to Girls for a Change.

ORD. 2016-115 AKA “The Convoluted HUD Grant Money Sentence Ordinance”

This is an unnecessarily long sentence and a frank abuser of semicolons: “To amend Ord. No. 2015-82-72, adopted May 4, 2015, which authorized the Chief Administrative Officer to submit a Consolidated Plan and Annual Action Plan to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as an application for the receipt of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) funds, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funds; accepted funds from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the total amount of $6,622,947; and appropriated $6,622,947 for various projects, for the purposes of re-appropriating unexpended funds and appropriating additional funds in the total amount of $458,605 and of reallocating funds for various projects.

Let us break this down.

On May 4th, 2015, the CAO was authorized to apply to HUD for some grant funds, including Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnership, Emergency Solutions Grant, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.

Then, who knows what is supposed to be happening. A semicolon after that list brings us to a verb “accepted funds.” Who accepted funds? To go back to the beginning of the sentence–which really isn’t a sentence at all, since it begins with “to amend”–do we assume that the person or thing that has accepted this $6,622,947 is the CAO? Then another semicolon, followed by “appropriated.” What is this past tense business?

Perhaps that’s the key, that if both “accepted” and “appropriated” were put in present tense, the whole thing would make sense. “To amend the Ordinance, accept the grant money, and appropriate additional funds for various projects.”

But no! As you can see from the much clearer description in the Mayor’s Ordinance Request, it’s really surplus funds from the Community Development Block Grant from last year that are going to be moved over to this year.

“To re-appropriate surplus federal funds, appropriate program income, and adjust certain project activities…The City will re-appropriate surplus Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for Fiscal Year 2016. Total funds to be re-appropriated and or appropriated as are follows: CDBG $458.605.00.”

This has been a great lesson on how grammar and punctuation can completely alter a sentence! If you’re still reading, let’s get back to the point!

CDBG funds have gone towards recent projects such as:

  • Carver-Newtowne West alley construction and structure demolition
  • Housing code enforcement
  • Neighborhood Stabilization Program
  • New multi-family housing in Swansboro
  • Eastview revitalization
  • New Clay House II

ORD. 2016-116 AKA “The Correctly Done HUD Grant Money Sentence Ordinance Part Deux”

Same as above, only the sentence gods heard me and carried out my wishes! “To authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to submit a Consolidated Plan and Annual Action Plan to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as an application for the receipt of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) funds, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funds; to accept funds from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the total amount of $6,362,297; and to appropriate $6,562,297, consisting of the accepted funds, $98,535 in CDBG prior year surplus funds, and $101,465 in CDBG program income, for various projects.”

This is basically the CAO applying for the same thing this year.

RES. 2015-R064 AKA “The Let’s See If We Can Get Panhandlers Jobs Ordinance”

This one’s still around, and just a reminder, it’s just to do a feasibility study of whether or not this program that’s been successful in Albuquerque will work out for Richmond’s panhandlers.

It keeps getting sent to the Education and Human Services Standing Committee, which recommends continuance. At one point it was even forwarded with “no recommendation.” Is…is the Education and Human Services Standing Committee doing OK? Are they STILL ALIVE? HAS ANYONE HEARD FROM THEM RECENTLY?

The Budget Related Papers (Is a Terrible Name for a Memoir)

At this meeting, City Council will present 32 budget-related papers. They’ll discuss them over the course of the next three meetings.


  • Increased on-street parking meter charges (ORD. 2016-046)
  • Fees associated with having an alarm system, including permit fees, fees for failing to apply for a permit, and false alarm charges (ORD. 2016-049)
  • License taxes for “Peddlers of crabs and for hawkers and hucksters,” which is a REAL THING in the real City Code, and we can’t stop saying it (ORD. 2016-056)
  • Financing school budget (ORD. 2015-057)
  • Capital Improvement Projects (ORD. 2015-058
  • New equipment and vehicles for the DPU’s stormwater (ORD. 2016-061)
  • A whole lot of fixes and improvements involving gas, water, and wastewater, totaling more than $110 million (ORD. 2016-062)
  • $62.5 million for school improvement projects (ORD. 2016-063)
  • More money to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office at least in part for the extensive time it’ll take them to review footage from body-worn cameras. They’ll be able to hire more people…and also supplement the salary of the Commonwealth Attorney himself by almost $47,000?? Awha!? (ORD. 2016-065)
  • More money to the Sheriff’s Office–she’ll get a $23,069 salary supplement, and her office gets almost $3 million. New staff for all! (ORD. 2016-066)
  • Recycling charges increased! Happy Earth Month! (ORD. 2016-067)
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