City Council Meeting Preview - December 8, 2014
For its final meeting of 2014, Richmond City Council is finally set to consider several ordinances related to the contentious Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium plan, as well as matters relating to economic development.
Check out some items of note to be considered tonight, and read the agenda.
Person to Watch: Michelle Mosby
Though she has yet to say anything publicly, it has become an open secret that Ninth District Councilwoman Michelle Mosby will challenge Second District Councilman Charles Samuels for the Council presidency in January. Mosby is halfway through her first term on City Council, and she is considered a strong ally of Mayor Dwight Jones. Third District Councilman Chris Hilbert, a possible candidate for mayor in 2016, has already announced his support for Mosby and his intent to run for vice president of City Council, according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Mosby is not relatively talkative at City Council meetings, but that may change during the last formal meeting before Council elections.
Notable Ordinances and Resolutions
Ord. No. 2014-231 - Economic Development money to Pfizer
In 2010, Mayor Jones negotiated an agreement to keep Pfizer's Sherwood Avenue research and development facility in Richmond. This meant keeping about 300 jobs within the city, as well as the prestige of the presence of the world's largest pharmaceutical company.
This ordinance helps fulfill that agreement by providing the first of 10 annual payments of $65,000 to Pfizer for agreeing to stay in Richmond.
Ord. No. 2014-228 - Funding construction of new Richmond brewery
This ordinance would appropriate $23 million to Richmond's Economic Development Authority to construct a building for Stone Brewing Company, which agreed to open a new brewery in Richmond in October.
Richmond restaurant owners have become vocally opposed to the idea of Stone Brewing Company getting public money to build its brewery and restaurant, and several of them are expected to speak at tonight's meeting, according to Style Weekly.
Ord. No. 2014-233 - Issuing bonds
This ordinance would allow the City to issue $23 million in bonds to raise money for public works projects. To learn more about how municipal bonds work, read this explanation from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Ord. No. 2014-234 - Maggie L. Walker Citizen's Advisory Board
Though the Maggie L. Walker Citizen's Advisory Board has been meeting since July 2013, this ordinance would formally establish it as an official City board. The volunteer group is a mixture of academics, clergy, city professionals and Richmond citizens living in impoverished areas. Check out this March 2014 feature in Style Weekly to read more about the work of the board.
Ord. No. 2014-245 - Letting the Martin Agency expand
The Martin Agency, one of the world's leading advertising companies, is based in downtown Richmond. This ordinance would allow the City to sell 0.15 acres of unused land for $916,000 to the Agency to allow it to expand its headquarters.
Res. 2014-R239 - Supporting redistricting reform in Virginia
A federal court ruled Virginia's recently redistricted Congressional districts unconstitutional in October because the map packs African-Americans into one gerrymandered district to protect Republican influence elsewhere.
This non-binding resolution would express Council's support for reform of the often contentious and convoluted redistricting process that takes place every decade in Virginia, and in particular for the work of the organization One Virginia 2021.
Res. No. 2014-R248 - Using real estate tax revenue to pay for school maintenance
In the wake of City Council rejecting Mayor Jones' bid to reduce Richmond's real estate tax rate, this resolution would divert $2.5 million of the money collected annually to paying for maintenance of school buildings.
This resolution would express support for the City's Economic Development Authority to acquire more than a dozen properties in Shockoe Bottom to use for some kind of commercial development. If this plan proceeded, it would in effect undercut the mayor's plan. Read more about it here.
This resolution would express Council's support for the Shockoe Economic Revitalization Strategy. Drafted by the City in 2011, the plan involved more than $70 million in infrastructure improvements to the Shockoe Bottom area, but notably had no mention of a baseball stadium in the area.
This resolution would request that the mayor seek the participation of Richmond's surrounding counties (Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover) in constructing a new baseball stadium for the city. All three counties have distanced themselves from any plan to fund or support a new stadium, leaving Richmond to go it alone.
This resolution would request that the CAO seek developers for work on city-owned land on Boulevard, and declare the Council will not approve any plans to develop the land until this has taken place. Boulevard is the location of the Diamond, Richmond's current baseball stadium, as well as a large vehicle-maintenance facility. Mayor Jones' Shockoe stadium plan turns on freeing up that land on Boulevard for commercial development. In essence, this resolution would force the mayor to examine the viability of Boulevard development before Council would sign off any stadium plan.