Lynchburg City Council meeting gets heated for 2020 budget

May 28 council will hold second reading, vote for the final time

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - It was a heated council meeting for Lynchburg leaders as they did they’re first reading for the $194.6 million budget Tuesday night.
 
“If you want to increase funding say how much. Say it. No, no, I’m in the middle of my thought council member,” Beau Wright, at large-council representative, said when speaking to Jeff Helgeson.
 
Five of council members want to move forward with the budget but two are opposed.
 
“Instead of focusing on real critical issue, it’s spending money on a 1$0 million sidewalk,” Helgeson, represents Ward III, said.

Helgeson doesn’t agree with the projects the other council members want to support, like a sidewalk on Florida Avenue, funding Lynchburg City Schools, and a beautification project in downtown.

“I don’t wanna see more money going to bureaucrats. I want to see money going to people that are in operation. People that are going to work: teachers, firefighters, police, trash collectors. People that are doing something,”
Council member Beau Wright says, “It’s showing businesses not just those who are eyeing Lynchburg, but those who are already here that we care about our community. We care about the kind of economic system we have here and we’re willing to make smart and thoughtful investments.”

Helgeson said the $1.6 million proposed to go to the school division is money he says LCS does not need to help with pay increases.

“Our previous interim superintendent how the previous group hired 200 more employees with 400 less kids. That’s where the raise went. The raise has gone for years by hiring the extra people,” Helgeson said.

“What council member Helgeson is saying is facts. That’s not in my opinion an accurate representation of the schools, the division, nor the decisions that they’ve made,” said Wright.

May 28, council will hold second reading and vote for the final time.
 
“I’m (going to) say exactly what I said this last Tuesday, plus several other things,” Helgeson said.

“I will be supporting the budget,” Wright said.

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