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State auditor concludes city doesn’t need state intervention

Jeremy Lazarus | 2/16/2018, 2:22 p.m.
Richmond can handle its financial problems without the state needing to hold its hand. That’s the conclusion the state auditor ...

Richmond can handle its financial problems without the state needing to hold its hand.

That’s the conclusion the state auditor of public accounts reached after reviewing the city’s information on its financial operations and holding discussions with the city’s finance officials.

Martha S. Mavredes, the state auditor of public accounts, notified Richmond officials last week that her office did not find anything that “would warrant offering state intervention.”

Ms. Mavredes said her office concluded that the City of Richmond has the appropriate staff, “policies and procedures in place to manage its financial operations.”

Richmond was among four localities Ms. Mavredes identified in mid-August as facing the potential for serious fiscal stress based on an analysis her office conducted of Virginia’s 132 cities and counties.

City Hall dismissed its inclusion on the short list, and Ms. Mavredes’ finding appears to uphold the assessment of city officials that Richmond should not have been included.

The analysis was conducted at the request of the General Assembly in the wake of the financial debacle in Petersburg, in which the city was found to be near bankruptcy in 2016.

Ms. Mavredes was charged with finding other localities that might be facing similar financial distress.

She said that further investigation showed only one of the four localities, Bristol, might benefit from state intervention.

However, a financial projection issued Jan. 22 by the city’s financial staff showed that Richmond’s expenditures in the next five years are expected to grow faster than revenues, leaving the city hard-pressed to offer new programs or keep up with rising costs for debt payments, employee pensions and health care.