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Breaking down the budget: What’s Roanoke City spending money on?

Community safety, human resources see funding increase; education funding drops

A breakdown of Roanoke's new budget
A breakdown of Roanoke's new budget

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke city’s new fiscal year begins July 1 and city leaders just approved the new nearly $300 million dollar budget.

Fiscal Year 2021′s top three priorities include:

  1. Education: $84.6 million
  2. Community safety: At $71.5 million; Police funding makes up $21.6 million of that total budget line
  3. Human services: $40.5 million
How do those numbers compare to last year’s?

The city’s entire budget is short about $1.4 million due to COVID-19. Community safety is up $2.3 million; police funding takes up $14,000 of that. A police spokesperson said that a majority of the department’s budget goes to employee salaries and the rest is used to replace equipment due to wear and tear.

Human services funding jumped about $116,000. Education funding dropped about $570,000.

City Manager Bob Cowell wanted to make it clear to the public that Roanoke has not cut any funding from education, instead the loss stems from a loss in the city’s funding formula from local tax revenue, which dropped due to COVID -19.

“Basically, 40% of the revenue that we receive goes directly to the school division for their use," said Cowell. "If that amount goes up, that’s what they get. If that amount goes down, that’s what they get, as well.”

Council member Michelle Davis said that the city’s budget process is ongoing and the work doesn’t stop here.

“We’re never going to have enough money to do all the things we want to do," said Davis. “Our budgeting process that we do here, we’ve been doing it this way for a long time. And it’s really easy to throw up your hands and say, ‘This is the best we can do.’ I believe we can do better if people aren’t afraid to have the hard conversations that we’re having right now," said Davis.


About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!