The Richmond City Council on Monday voted to increase a self-imposed threshold that triggers a vote by the full body on an individual member’s use of public money.
The council unanimously voted to increase from $1,000 to $5,000 the threshold at which a member must seek approval from the body for transactions using council district funds. Councilwoman Reva Trammell proposed the changes. She said she did not believe the higher threshold would veil how members choose to spend the money.
“It’s still going to be out there,” Trammell said. “It’ll be online.”
The council sets the amount annually during its budget deliberations. This year, it allotted each member about $12,000. If unspent by the end of the fiscal year, the money rolls back into the city’s general fund.
Andreas Addison, the 1st District representative, said the spending, no matter the amount, will continue to appear on the city’s online check registry.
“We’re very open and transparent in our transactions,” Addison said.
Kristen Larson, the 4th District councilwoman, said the lower threshold created more clerical work for council staffers and the city attorney’s office. Raising it would help reduce the load, she said.
“Those hours and that time is valuable,” Larson said.
A bloc of resolutions authorizing individual members’ spending routinely appears on the council’s docket.
The spending varies, but council members typically use the money to support civic associations in their districts or community events in their respective districts. Another frequent use is the purchase of refreshments for meetings held by members. Others use it to fund newsletters to send to residents.
Three new resolutions concerning members’ spending were introduced Monday.
One would approve $236.93 wanted by Councilwoman Ellen Robertson to pay a local bounce house company for providing inflatable fun to children at an event held in the 6th District. Another would allow Council President Chris Hilbert to donate $1,500 to the Brookland Park Area Association to help cover costs for an upcoming community event.
Neither would appear on the council docket under the new policy.
The council passed the changes Monday with little discussion. No members of the public in attendance spoke in favor or against increasing the threshold.
The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 24.