Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, a pediatric physician, started off the discussion Wednesday morning with a chilling statistic – there have been 860 deaths so far this year due to opioid overdoses. Virginia is on par to reach 1000 deaths by year end he said.
Dr. Northam, met with leaders at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital to discuss the opioid public health emergency and to highlight policy solutions he will push for in the 2017 General Assembly session and beyond.
Nancy Agee, President and CEO of Carilion Clinic
Steve Arner, President/CEO, Carilion Medical Center, Nancy Agee, President and CEO of Carilion Clinic, Dr. Willia
Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea explains use of Rainy Day fund for catastrophes.
“NOT A BAD PERSON” – Councilman Court Rosen did not fault any of his colleagues or want anyone to think those who disagree with him might be considered “a bad person.” Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea cleared the air on the purpose of the reserve fimd. Rosen stuck to his guns and reiterated his position.
Rosen admitted that it could lead to a downgrade the City’s “AA “bond rating.
His explanation was that an extra 1/4% interest payment on debt would only result in a minor cost to the taxpayers of $60,000 a year. Rosen said, “hopefully we can get this back when the recession is over.”
Rosen purposed pulling $1,907,867 out of the Budget Stabilization Fund for keeping the pools open, bookmobile, not cut library hours, keep summer school program, and save teacher’s assistants and guidance counselors positions.
Councilman Court Rosen makes case for dipping into the Rainy Day Fund.
Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea responded saying he understands the worthiness of saving these programs and commended staff on their excellent work the did assisting Council in their tough decisions. Lea strongly objected to using the Rainy Day funds saying “we’re in a recession and we’re not going to get through this pain free… it’s difficult.” Lea reiterated that what Council has done for the schools is “solid.” Lea went on to say, “it is our obligation as elected officials to use this fund for “catastrophic natural disasters.” Lea used Katrina as an example saying, “those kinds of things happen.” Lea said that you can’t always depend on the State or Federal Government for assistance especially in the short term. The funds are there to “protect lives and people … It is not like a savings account you can dip into,” said Lea. For now Lea believes the City has been able to keep itself above water. Lea summed up use of the Budget Stabilization Fund – “it is for life, health, and safety issues.”
Councilman Rupert Cutler agreed and the Director of Finance, Ann Shawver expanded saying that she wanted the citizens to know that “it is not like we have these pots of money sitting around.” Shawver prefered that Council did not dip into the reserve. The policy says that the reserve is for significant emergencies such as unforseen loss in revenues. “It would be more fiscally prudent to not use it for next years budget balancing,” said Shawver. She would rather see taxes raised to balance the budget. The “AA” bond rating is already on “watch” by Moody’s at 7% of the budget explained Shawver. The ideal is from 8 to 15% saying that Roanoke city was at the low end as it stands now.