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City Manager Ken Larking tonight submitted to the City Council a proposed budget that maintains basic government services, continues crime reduction and public safety initiatives, and invests in the success of youth.
The budget includes no increase in tax rates other than an aircraft tax increase approved by the Airport Commission. Also, no increase in utility rates and utility fees is proposed.
The total recommended budget for the next fiscal year is nearly $285.7 million for operations, capital and debt service. This total is 1.93 percent or nearly $5.4 million more than the current fiscal year’s budget of $280,279,860.
The proposed budget is a working draft for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. City Council will hold public hearings prior to adopting a budget. Final adoption must take place no later than June 30.
Budget documents will be available at www.danvilleva.gov/2023budget.
Larking told the City Council that major increases in revenue are expected in the next fiscal year. Those increases include:
The increases in sales, meals, and hotel taxes are because of the rebounding economy, Larking said.
Larking highlighted two areas among expenditures planned for the next fiscal year. They are:
“For Danville to have the kind of success we desire, we need to invest in the success of our youth,” Larking said.
The initiatives for youth include leveraging partnerships with the public school system to implement a robust youth athletics program, expansion of the City’s gang prevention program, continued support for the Police Department’s community engagement program, and providing dedicated funding for the “Experience Works” summer internship program.
The summer internship program is a partnership between the City of Danville, Danville Public Schools, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, West Piedmont Virginia Career Works, and Goodwill of the Valleys.
The proposed budget continues the pay-for-performance system for employee raises and addresses compression caused by state minimum wage increases. The budget also includes money for a retiree bonus.
As proposed, 11 new positions will be created. Two positions are eliminated. Fifteen existing positions will be reclassified. Two more positions will be established, with no funding
This year’s budget proposes to use a combination of American Rescue Plan Act funds, upfront casino payment funds, and the remaining bond anticipation notes to pay for capital, special projects, and economic development program costs.
Although the state has not released its budget for the next fiscal year, Larking said signs indicate that there will be increased funding for school systems with additional funds going to schools in high-poverty districts.
In the budget proposed by Larking, the public schools will have $22.8 million in flat funding for operations, with the unspent funds being put towards expenses in the next financial year. An additional $2 million is proposed to cover capital expenses such as roof and HVAC equipment repair or replacement.
Also, Danville Public Schools will receive an estimated $129 million in bond proceeds for school construction and renovation. Last year, voters approved a referendum to borrow the funds, with a 1 percent local option sales tax to cover the debt service.
Crime reduction and public safety
Recently, the Police Department announced that since implementing neighborhood-oriented policing, the city has seen over a 50 percent drop in violent crime when comparing a three-year window prior to implementation to now.
The Police Department intends to continue its efforts to connect with youth of all ages through dedicated youth engagement officers. Also, community policing will continue through neighborhood walks, coffee with a cop, added presence in schools, among other activities.
For public safety, the budget draft provides funding for equipment for the new police headquarters and a video surveillance system. There are also two gang-prevention positions being added.
Economic and community development
Larking noted that investments in industrial recruitment, retention and expansion through incentives, and workforce development has led to over $1 billion in capital investment and nearly 4,000 new jobs in the region since 2018.
In the River District, Larking said the $50 million in public spending has resulted in $252 million in private investment. This private investment includes over 1,100 apartments completed or in development, 17 eating/drinking establishments, and multiple retail and entertainment options.
To encourage continued economic development, the proposed budget is allocating over $5 million for various economic projects including grant programs, already approved incentives, and investments in local sites and buildings.
The budget allocates $650,000 for enhancements of the Coates Recreation Center, $410,000 to pay for design services related to conversion of the White Mill bridge into a pedestrian bridge on the Riverwalk Trail, and $200,000 to continue the tourism marketing program that will work to encourage new visitors to Danville to explore businesses in our city and region.
Also, $1 million is proposed for neighborhood revitalization efforts.