Richmond City Council to assess mid-year budget, receive crime report

Richmond City Council to assess mid-year budget, receive crime report

At the Richmond City Council meeting Tuesday, staff will present a mid-year budget report, discuss recent settlements with Chevron and Martinez Refining Company, and an initiative to transition neighborhoods off natural gas. On the consent calendar is a crime report detailing recent violent crimes, including shootings and a stabbing in Richmond.

City staff will present a mid-year budget report to assist in monitoring revenue and expenditures compared to the approved budget. The report also provides staff, the city council, and the community to monitor trends that impact the budget cycle.

Most revenues are trending as expected or better, with city staff expecting $9 million more from property, sales, utility, other taxes, licenses, permits, and fees. 

While many residents are impacted by ongoing inflation, city staff say the economy is slowly stabilizing. There have been mixed economic impacts resulting from inflation, unemployment, a strong job market, and high-interest rates. 

City coffers have benefited from PG&E’s higher rates and utility taxes. This tax comprises gas, electricity, cable, and telecommunications and is up $2.2 million over the expected $55.7 million. Richmond residents pay a 10 percent utility tax plus a 1.3 percent franchise surcharge for PG&E.

A message from PG&E.
A message from PG&E about a new franchise surcharge.

Mid-Year Revenue Budget Adjustments

Staff estimates a base business tax of nearly $13 million, an increase of $2.5 million from the original budget. Property Tax revenues are $1.6 million more than the budgeted $50.5 million because of higher property valuations. Sales Tax revenue is primarily bolstered by the big box stores in Richmond, and internet sales credited to Richmond are up $1.1 million over the expected $56.7 million.

Staff proposes $9.7 million in budget adjustments for salaries and benefits and one-time contributions to other post-employment benefits.

A significant part of the proposed $2.7 million budget adjustment is based on the overtime budget in several departments. Staff says $1.9 million is in the police department due to staffing shortage. Other adjustments include part-time, temporary staff in the city attorney’s office and public works. 

Police respond to homicide, disturbing assault

On the consent calendar is a written crime report from Police Chief Bisa French, reporting slight increases in violent crimes over the past month and a decrease in all property crimes. 

January violent crime

January property crime

The chief noted several significant cases in the past month, including a Lancaster Drive homicide, a South 22nd Street stabbing, and a Pierce Street collision where a man lost his life.

“Officers responded to a ShotSpotter activation on Lancaster Drive. Upon arrival, officers located the victim down under a carport, suffering from a single gunshot wound. AMR and RFD responded and attempted life-saving measures. Unfortunately, the victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased,” French wrote.

Richmond police investigate homicide on Lancaster Drive
Updated February 14, 2024 at 1 p.m. Oakland resident Myron Smith has been identified as the Lancaster Drive victim. Police are investigating Richmond’s second homicide of the year after one person died in a Lancaster Drive shooting on Tuesday night. Richmond police responded to a ShotSpotter activation at 10:

Officers were called to the 200 block of South 22nd Street on a report of a stabbing. As officers arrived, they could hear a male screaming for help.

“Officers rushed upstairs and were met with a locked security screen. They could see the victim standing close to the door with the suspect directly behind him, holding a knife. The victim had a large amount of blood coming from one of his hands and groin.” French wrote.

French said officers were able to breach the door and remove the victim and quickly detained the suspect, who had discarded the knife.  

“AMR responded and treated the victim. He sustained a large laceration to the palm of his left hand. He also sustained a long and deep laceration to the underneath portion of his scrotum. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The suspect was taken into custody for attempted murder,” French wrote.

Officers responding to a collision on Pierce Street located a major collision between two vehicles. The solo driver of a white Honda Civic was trapped inside his car and unconscious. RFD rescue personnel responded to assist, but the driver was subsequently pronounced deceased.

“The investigation revealed the driver was traveling northbound on Pierce Street at a high rate of speed when he may have either fallen asleep or had a medical emergency, causing him to veer across the road, colliding with the front end of an unoccupied parked “big rig” truck,” French wrote.

French also reported a jury convicted an Oakland in the Dunn Avenue Father’s Day mass shooting in 2021 of 12 separate counts, including first-degree murder, conspiracy, attempted murder, and shooting into an inhabited dwelling. 

“Officers arrived on scene to find a mass shooting, in which three people were killed, four others struck by gunfire and two additional persons injured as a result of the shooting,” French said. “This conviction would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the officers who responded to the scene and conducted a follow-up investigation to identify the suspects in this case.”

A council requests a traffic calming update

Also on the consent calendar is an item to request the public works director and staff to give an update on the 18 approved traffic calming projects at the March 5 council meeting.

Residents have long pushed for traffic calming measures, with some forgoing the city altogether and installing rouge traffic control devices in the North and East.

Mysterious traffic calming measures spark conversation about safety
North and East neighbors celebrated when mysterious traffic control devices popped up at the sites of several recent high-speed collisions on Esmond Avenue. Residents were equally upset when they vanished. The orange cones first appeared around July 16. The following Friday, plastic poles materialized, glued and bolted to the ground.

In November 2022, the council approved the first 18 projects from the traffic calming program and allocated $1.2 million towards the competition of those projects. Councilmembers want the presentation to include each project’s current phase and anticipated timeline for project completion.

Air district presentation

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is scheduled to give a presentation explaining the recent settlement with Chevron and the Martinez Refining Company. The air district estimates that the emission reductions achieved by the rule will result in tens of millions of dollars per year in health benefits by reducing early deaths and other health impacts of exposure to particulate matter. 

Chevron drops lawsuit, agrees to pay millions to fund clean air projects in Richmond
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has reached an agreement with Chevron and the Martinez Refining Company in a joint lawsuit that will pay millions in fines and funding for air quality projects in Richmond. The air district and local elected officials are celebrating the whopping $138 million settlement

ACCE and your gas stove

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) to give a presentation on their Richmond Clean Energy and Healthy Homes Campaign of 2024. Staff would be directed to consult with PG&E on a low-income neighborhood pilot project to transition the neighborhood off natural gas by providing free electrical appliances.

“We must move to make all homes in Richmond healthier and more climate-friendly. ACCE is spearheading a campaign to make this possible and will be presenting the details of this campaign to the City Council,” staff wrote.

According to the report, neighborhood decarbonization is a strategy to transition entire neighborhoods off of the gas system, prioritizing poor and working-class communities, in particular Black and Brown neighborhoods, that have faced disproportionate environmental burdens.

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