Photo by Laura French
RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond City Council voted Monday night to raise the city meal tax in order to fund the renovation and replacement of the city’s crumbling school facilities.
The proposal, introduced by Mayor Levar Stoney, will bump the meals tax at Richmond restaurants from 6 to 7.5-percent, effective July 1, 2018.
The total tax, combined with sales tax, would go from 11.3 to 12.8-percent. It would be the difference of tax bringing a $60 check to $67.68 versus $66.78 – or 90 cents difference.
The proposal passed with a 7-2 vote. Councilwomen Kim Gray and Kristen Larson voted “no.” Larson had previously said that she wanted to defer voting for at least two weeks. During that time, she wanted council to consider adding a sunset clause. That would allow the increase to expire after five years.
After the increase was approved Monday night, Mayor Stoney released a statement that read:
“Tonight, the City of Richmond sent a strong message to its students that it is no longer willing to kick the can down the road when it comes to providing them with modern, safe and healthy environments in which to learn. This is just the first big step in what will be many more steps to improve our schools for our children, and for the generations of Richmond Public School students to come. After decades of telling them to wait, tonight we put them first. We are moving full-steam ahead with our plan to generate $150 million in new school construction and renovation of facilities that have been neglected for far too long.
This was not an easy decision, and it does not solve all of our schools’ challenges, but it was important that we get started now. I’d like to thank the members of City Council tonight for understanding the urgency and importance of our needs and having the courage to take action. And I would like to thank the Richmond School Board and Superintendent Jason Kamras for their advocacy and leadership for the children under their care. Through our Education Compact, we will continue to work together to tackle the challenges that lie ahead and forge solutions that will not only benefit our students but also make our city stronger.
To the restauranteurs who supported this proposal and those who had reservations about it, you are part of what makes Richmond a great place to live, work and play. I will continue to be a champion for you, and I look forward to finding ways that we can make it easier for you to do business and continue to thrive.
The large number and wide range of individuals and organizations who have supported this initiative – from education advocates to the real estate and business community to RPS teachers, parents and students – reinforce the broad consensus that we must move forward. Our kids can’t wait, and you heard their voices.
Our children face a brighter future. Now let’s make it happen.”