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City of Richmond Marks Financial Advances; Funds Office of Neighborhood Safety

The City of Richmond has received its first financial reporting award!  The Finance Department is proud to announce receipt of the Award for Outstanding Financial Reporting for the 2005/06 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report from the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO). Thanks to all of the finance staff and other departments who helped make the CAFR a success!  For additional information, contact:

 

Tina Mckenney

Accounting Manager

City Of Richmond

Finance Department

1401 Marina Way South

Richmond Ca   94804

(510) 621-1220(Phone)

(510) 620-6522(Fax)

Tina_Mckenney@Ci.Richmond.Ca.Us

 The City of Richmond has also received a favorable bond rating. Story from West County Times below:

City receives favorable bond rating

 

  RICHMOND: Agencies commend city's financial management, forecast for general fund

 

By John Geluardi

CONTRA COSTA TIMES
Contra Costa Times

Article Launched:07/19/2007 03:06:07 AM PDTRichmond reached a significant milestone in its financial recovery this week when two major credit rating agencies gave the city a favorable bond rating, which will save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Moody's Investor Services raised the city's bond rating from A3 to A2, and Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised its ratings two notches, from BBB-plus to A. The new ratings will be applied to the $97 million to $105 million in Civic Center renovation bonds, which will be issued next month. The first phase of the Civic Center renovation, the city's largest public works project ever, is estimated to cost about $111 million.

"The immediate effect of these actions will result in the city saving approximately $600,000 in insurance costs on its Civic Center bonds," Richmond Finance Director Jim Goins said. "Additionally, by executing an interest-rate lock on these bonds in April, when interest rates were considerably lower then they are today, the city will save approximately $2.5 million."

S&P's eight-page report commended the city's financial management for "strong" practices that are well-embedded and likely sustainable. The agency was particularly impressed with the city's five-year, detailed forecast for the general fund.

The favorable ratings are yet another milestone in the city's financial recovery from a catastrophic, $35 million budget crisis in 2004. Just weeks after former City Manager Isaiah Turner abruptly retired, claiming poor health, the city learned of the full extent of the crisis, which had been hidden by overly positive revenue projections, according to a state audit.

In the wake of the financial collapse, more than 300 city employees lost their jobs and the city drastically cut services, some of which have yet to be restored. For example, though funding has been set aside, the city's two branch libraries remain closed.

Under the leadership of the City Council and new City Manager Bill Lindsay and Goins' disciplined financial practices, Richmond has managed three balanced budgets, established $10 million in reserves and now re-established perhaps the most favorable bond rating possible for a city with its economic profile.

Reach John Geluardi at 510-262-2787 or jgeluardi@cctimes.com.

In a marathon City Council meeting that went on past 2:00 AM on July 17, the City Council fully funded the Office of Neighborhood Safety:

Richmond sets safety budget

  After emotional public push, council approves money to coordinate anti-violence effortBy John Geluardi times staff writer
Contra Costa Times

Article Launched:07/19/2007 03:04:10 AM PDT

 

More than 100 people packed the Richmond City Council chamber Tuesday night to demand funding for the city's new Office of Neighborhood Safety.

After more than two hours of public comment from doctors, social workers, church deacons and community members, the council unanimously approved $611,750 to hire a department director, administrative assistant and an unspecified number of outreach workers. The city already has begun its search to fill the positions.

"We have advanced one more step toward a better Richmond," said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who has been a strong proponent of the new office. "And this is a clear sign that Richmond-bred movements are coming together -- Tent City, the Latin community against (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and immigration reform, the progressives and the Greens all coming together to act together -- and I am very proud to be part of that."

The annual budget for the department, which will coordinate and leverage the anti-violence efforts of nonprofits, schools and county and state agencies, is expected to grow to about $1 million in 2008, City Manager Bill Lindsay said. Any growth beyond that will depend on the department's performance.

Violence has been a chronic problem in Richmond for 25 years. In 2006, the deadliest year since 1994, the city recorded 42 homicides.

The structure, scope and mission of the new office is based on a $185,000 violence report compiled by the Oakland-based Mentoring Center. The report made suggestions for prevention programs based on victim profiles and a neighborhood-by-neighborhood analysis of violent crime.

The Mentoring Center's former director, Minister David Muhammad, recommended the city establish the new office and sustain it for at least 10 years. Richmond has the advantage of being a relatively small city, which makes the violence problem a little more manageable, he said.

"Richmond suffers from a territorial problem," Muhammad said. "Richmond is a small city, and much of the violence takes place in a very small area because you have people who are locked into the 10-square-block area they were born and raised in."

Muhammad suggested a "One Richmond" promotional campaign with radio ads, billboards and posters to help create good will among North Richmond, central Richmond and south Richmond "so a young man from North Richmond feels comfortable playing for the Richmond Steelers football team," Muhammad said.

Councilwoman Maria Viramontes tried to interject the voice of financial caution into an emotionally charged council chamber Tuesday. Social service program costs can soar quickly without clear parameters, she said.

"At the end of the day, the report suggests 12 employees, and that costs $1.2 million, and most of them are not providing direct services," Viramontes said. "I believe that's too many. I would rather put that to services."

The Rev. Charles Newsome drew gasps from the audience as he counted the family members he has lost to street violence.

"My baby sister, my brother, five nephews ages 11, 13, 15, 19 and 22 -- you can't tell them that $2 million is too much for this office," Newsome said. "We've heard it, we've heard from the reality of the heart, and we've heard it from the reality of the mind. Now it's time to act."

On Wednesday, the Rev. Andre Shumake said the council's decision was a "crowning moment" that had its beginnings in 2003, when the community began to organize.

"Back in 2003, the clergy and the community came together and said 'enough is enough,'" Shumake said. "We started with candlelight vigils at homicide scenes, peace marches and town hall meetings, and the council finally recognized that something had to be done."

Contact John Geluardi at 510-262-2787 or jgeluardi@cctimes.com.