Richmond City Council voted Thursday night to cut all funding for Mayor Dwight Jones ballpark proposal out of next year’s budget.
Council voted 5-4 to cut $12 million from Jones’ budget. The money would have funded site work and infrastructure improvements necessary to build the stadium.
The vote doesn't necessarily mean the Shockoe plan is sunk, though it does indicate a majority of council members have serious doubts it will come to fruition. And whether the vote will stand remains to be seen: The mayor has 14 days to veto budget amendments. A veto would require six votes to override.
Councilman Jon Baliles proposed the budget amendment as part of a package to redirect funds to schools, the riverfront plan and other areas. Council members Chris Hilbert, Reva Trammell, Charles Samuels and Parker Agelasto supported Baliles’ amendment.
Baliles argued that Jones has yet to produce a finalized deal with developers for the ballpark, while the city knows it needs to invest in schools and other areas. He said if council decides to move forward with a Shockoe stadium, the mayor can introduce a budget amendment mid-year to restore the funding.
“Everybody’s for the development of Shockoe Bottom, but until we know what’s going on I don’t think it’s a wise move for us as the governing body of the City of Richmond to leave the money out there for that when we know the needs that are in front of us are real,” Baliles said.
Council voted to keep $1 million of the mayor’s proposed allocation in the budget so the city can proceed with development of a slavery heritage site in the Bottom.
Council members Ellen Robertson, Kathy Graziano, Michelle Mosby and Cynthia Newbille opposed the change.
Robertson said it was important to continue work to prepare Shockoe Bottom for development -- with or without a ballpark. Newbille said voting to remove the funding amounted to council reneging on their February vote to proceed with the development plan.
Graziano worried that removing the money from the budget would negatively impact the city’s negotiations as it attempts to finalize a deal with developers to build the Shockoe stadium.
After the meeting, the city’s chief administrative officer, Byron Marshall, told Style he agrees.
“It will certainly make my job harder,” he said. “We’ll see.”