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Richmond officials blame computer glitch for 48-hour delay between mayor's budget presentation and document's release to public
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Richmond officials blame computer glitch for 48-hour delay between mayor's budget presentation and document's release to public

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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney presented his budget to the Richmond City Council on Monday afternoon, but for about 48 hours, council members and residents keen to dig into the 560-page spending plan were out of luck.

That’s because after briefly going live on the city’s website Monday evening, the city pulled the document. Instead, a link to the proposal on the city’s website directed users to a one-page document that said only that “the 2018 Proposed Annual Budget is currently being revised and will be available shortly.”

City Council members didn’t have any more luck gaining access to the document.

While city administrators distributed hard copies Monday to all nine council members before the mayor delivered a speech about the plan, staff members asked for the 2-inch-thick binders back shortly after Stoney completed his remarks.

“I hadn’t even gotten a chance to open it,” Councilwoman Reva Trammell said.

Budget Director Jay Brown attributed the issue to computer network problems the day before the budget was presented. He said the result was that uncorrected drafts were included in the final document distributed to the council and the public.

“Department staff have taken the past 24 hours to review the budget pages, make any adjustments, and ensure that the correct pages are uploaded in the final proposed budget document,” Brown said in a statement.

As of about 4 p.m. Wednesday, the updated budget books were delivered to the City Council’s offices. Likewise, by about 8 p.m., the document was once again posted on the city’s website.

Stoney’s press secretary, Jim Nolan, said the mayor doesn’t expect any further issues.

“The mayor is not pleased by the delay in providing the correct and updated pages to council and the public,” he said in a statement.

Council members said the delay, brief as it was, nonetheless created headaches.

“As a new councilman, it delays the time that I have to become engrossed and enmeshed in the budget process,” said Councilman Michael Jones, who said he has been fielding calls from constituents concerned about some of Stoney’s proposal, such as increased utility rates.

“I really have nothing I can say. I can’t answer any of those questions,” he said.

noliver@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6178

Twitter: @nedoliver

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