Call Them Maybe, Give Them Kudos Maybe ...

By Carol A.O. Wolf

The members of Richmond City Council [click on this link for contact information]  appear poised to approve a plan that would require the various agencies that receive our precious tax dollars to be more accountable for precisely how the money is spent.

Similar to the categorical funding system already used by the schools which allocates set amounts for various categories such as instruction, administration, attendance & health, pupil transportation, operations and maintenance, facility services.

As with schools, the plan under consideration by City Council would shift from allocating lump sum payments to city departments and would instead seek to set amounts in broad categories relevant to particular agencies. 

For example, the Department of Public Works would receive specific amounts (included but not limited to) expenditures such as finance and administration, solid waste management, bulk & brush removal, curbside recycling, leaf collection, geographic information management, infrastructure, roadway maintenance.

Similarly, Fire & Emergency Services and the Richmond Police Department would have monies designated for the Office of Fire Chief for administration, Chief of Police, field operations, support services, emergency medical services and other basic areas of need. The categories are broad, just as with the schools, but serve the higher purpose of preventing folks in the respective agencies from shifting money willy-nilly from one category to another.

Mindful that emergencies do and will occur that require funds to be shifted, agency heads would be required to submit requests to Richmond City Council in advance of spending the money. 

In order to understand why this additional layer of fiscal accountability is so welcome and necessary, click here to read PETER GALUSZKA's excellent story in Style Weekly about the sad, frustrating saga of the City of Richmond's finances

Please contact your City Council members and let them know that you support this most welcome change and give them kudos for stepping up (at last!) to be a part of the solution to deciphering the mayhem and mystery that engulf our city finances. 

You might also make it clear that should any Council member balk at approving this simple and yet significant change -- one small step for Richmond Schools, one giant leap for Richmond City government -- that "We, the People" will remember this next Election Day.