I am pleased to present my recommended FY2015/16 budget, which reflects a defined and sincere effort to continue to provide quality programs and services to the citizens of Petersburg.
Budget development is becoming increasingly difficult. City revenues are down, while the demand and cost for services continue to go up. At the same time, state and federal funding to localities is decreasing, yet we are still saddled with many unfunded mandates. In government, “the buck stops” on the local level.
Despite these challenges, quality services are being maintained in Petersburg thanks to the outstanding efforts of our dedicated City employees and interdepartmental teamwork. Under the direction of Mayor and Council, Petersburg is committed to sustainability that focuses on the relationships between economic strength, social equity and environmental quality. Dedication to sustainability will make Petersburg a better place to live, work and play.
The charted course for the upcoming year in Petersburg includes continued revitalization of Exit 52. The city has partnered with the Cameron Foundation to improve the gateways into the city. The restoration and conversion of the former BB&T building into commercial and residential space will be completed in March 2016. South Side Depot will be converted into a visitor contact station for the Petersburg National Battlefield, bringing an additional 30,000 visitors into our City each year. Phase I of the Southside Depot conversion will be completed by June 2015. A new clubhouse will be completed at Dogwood Trace Golf Course in October 2015, supporting our sports tourism programs. Petersburg will continue to bring down blighted buildings and clean up neighborhoods.
Highlights of the FY2015/16 budget include:
• No increase in real estate and personal property tax rates;
• No increase in storm water utility fees;
• No increase in transit fees;
• Restore midday GRTC route to Richmond;
• Funding to Schools will be flat at $11,662,000
• Continue Branding the City;
• 14.1% increase in water and wastewater fees (monthly billing);
• Increase in funding for new cultural affairs, arts, and humanities activities;
• City absorbing 5% of the increase in employee health insurance;
• Continued consolidation of functions and programs to more efficiently utilize staff;
• Transfer funding for Street Maintenance to Special Fund;
• Privatization of Central Stores;
• Funding of promotional advancement in Fire;
• Budget fund balance at $750,000;
In summary, this budget will maintain the current level of municipal services, programs and special physical projects. A five-year financial forecast identifying the long-term needs for fiscal sustainability will be introduced in Fiscal Year 2016.
William E. Johnson, III