If Richmond were the U.S. government, it might be time to print more money: The city's debt limit is in view, says Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall. But the real answer might mean slowing the building boom of the past four years under Mayor Dwight C. Jones.
"I haven't seen any actual figures," says 5th District City Councilman Parker Agelasto, "but I know it's one of those things they constantly talk about."
The ‘they' Agelasto refers to includes about everyone in city government. Marshall mentioned it in a recent interview with Richmond magazine. And so, too, did 3rd District City Councilman Chris Hilbert, an early declared candidate for mayor in 2016. "We're as close as I feel comfortable being," says City Council President Charles Samuels. The city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, lists a legal debt limit of a bit more than $1.97 billion, with the "statutory capacity" to issue another $1.27 billion in general obligation debt. "We are closing that gap pretty quickly," Samuels says. To clarify, the city's debt limit changes based on variables like tax revenues, the assessed value of taxable real estate — even how many parking tickets get paid.
Which is why it's unclear when — or if — the limit will be reached.