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City Manager's Blog

Learn about the City of Roanoke from the City Manager's point of view.

May 16

Technology and Innovation in the Valley

Posted on May 16, 2022 at 3:22 PM by Carol Corbin

Technology and Innovation in the Valley


This week the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council will conduct its annual TechNite, which among other activities, celebrates the leaders shaping technology and innovation in our region.  RBTC was established in 1998 to be a catalyst for innovation and technology in our region, seeking to educate, inform, grow, and unite the region’s growing technology community. They seek to better the technology industry by actively connecting and enabling the community, by supporting our region’s technology companies, and by actively pursuing positive changes in our community.  RBTC is itself part of a larger innovative ecosystem, VERGE, established in 2020 as the region’s front door for innovators, founders, and funders to connect a growing roster of companies – both startups and established – with resources to grow and thrive.  The City of Roanoke through its Innovation Corridor has long been a supporter and collaborator in these efforts.

Awards

At TechNite, awards will be announced in each of the following categories:

  • STEM-H Educator
  • Rising Star
  • Innovator
  • Entrepreneur
  • Regional Leadership
  • Leading Technology Company 

The evening will also include selection of an induction into the RBTC Hall of Fame, an honor that has in the past acknowledged the contributions of such notable leaders as Doug Juanarena, Russ Ellis, Mary Miller and many others.

 The Future Economy

Innovation and Technology are key to the economic success of our region and the City of Roanoke. Further evidence of this is a visit this week by the Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.  The Secretary will be joined by Heywood Fralin in a discussion of how science and innovation are poised to accelerate Virginia’s economy- locally and throughout the Commonwealth.

These events and their participants are continued evidence of the significance of technology and innovation in our area and the role it has and will continue to play in the vitality of our local economy.  

 -- Bob Cowell

May 09

A Job Well Done

Posted on May 9, 2022 at 1:33 PM by Carol Corbin

A Job Well Done

Few things are more rewarding than a job well done.  All too often in local government these acts go unnoticed.  Mistakes, errors, and shortcomings generate the buzz with local media and are magnified by those on social media.  That’s unfortunate because there are many instances of excellence by the employees of Roanoke worth noting - whether achieved by one or through the accomplishment of many.  This post will take a few moments to acknowledge a few such deeds.

 Police Work

This past week saw a series of arrests for recent serious crimes committed in our city.  These arrests don’t just happen, rather they are the result of hours and hours of intentional and careful investigation completed by the men and women of the Roanoke City Police Department.  These investigations are often accompanied by coordinated apprehension of suspects, in these instances, including personnel from the U.S. Marshals Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.  Each of these arrests, while related to unfortunate and horrible acts of violence, are integral to justice being served and for an element of closure for the families of those that lost someone. A job well done RPD!

 Compassionate Service

 Recently Animal Warden Theresa Jenkins was called by a resident to assist with a wildlife issue.  Seven ducklings had become trapped in a storm drain.   Warden Jenkins took the time to ensure each of these ducklings were safely removed from the storm drain and placed in the care of the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center.  A job well done Warden Jenkins!

 Award Winning Communications

 At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic it was critical to share essential information about the virus and efforts that were in place to help mitigate its impact with area residents.   One such effort recently received an award from the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.  The City of Roanoke received the 2021 Silver Summit Award for the Council Chats initiative led by our Communications and Engagement Team.  Roanoke City residents had limited resources for information as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, causing them to rely on local media outlets, social media, and word of mouth for updates. City Council adopted “Strategic Plan – Star City Strong 2020-2021,” focused on strategic areas of importance: Education, Community, Safety, Human Services, Infrastructure, Good Government, Livability, and Economy. The City Manager and the Communications and Engagement Team worked with Council to create videos informing the public about the City’s response to each area.  A job well done Communications and Engagement Team!

 Leading Outside the Box

 Jeffrey Powell, Director of General Services- that’s the Department that manages activities like Purchasing, Solid Waste, and Facilities Maintenance will be recognized for work he has been leading that is way outside his routine responsibilities.  In July, Jeffrey will receive the Star City Cease Fire Award at 2022 National Roanoke Community Beautification Day in recognition of work he has led related to the City’s Star City Safe initiative.  This effort which has brought departments across the city together to support the police in their anti-violence work by providing safe and productive activities for local youth including job skills training, employment, mentoring, after school athletics, extended library hours and much more.  Jeffrey’s work is a direct response to the challenge his children placed before him-what are you doing to help stop the violence?  A job well done Jeffrey!

 This is but a glimpse of the exemplary work performed by city employees each and every day on behalf of the residents of this great city.  I am honored to work alongside them and proud of the dedication they show to the Star City!  Well done!

 

-- Bob Cowell

Apr 19

Fiscal Year 2023 Budget

Posted on April 19, 2022 at 1:34 PM by Casey Lewis

Each year, as City Manager, I am charged with proposing an annual budget for Council consideration.   In addition to being balanced, the proposal should reflect the strategic priorities defined by the Mayor and Council through their annual Strategic Planning process as well as address objectives I have defined for the organization.  This year, my budget proposal is for $324,789,000, representing a 5.6% increase over last year’s approved budget.  

This proposal is balanced, responds to Council priorities and addresses a number of important organizational challenges, most notably compensation for the City workforce.  This proposal continues actions that represent sound financial management, strategic investments and enhanced funding of essential services that better the health, safety and quality of life for the residents of Roanoke – and it does so without increasing tax rates.

 In addition to the General Fund Operating Budget, I am proposing a $163 million five-year Capital Improvements Program which includes funding for school buildings, bridges, parks and recreation, street paving, library facilities, courthouse renovations, technology upgrades and more.

Budget Highlights

Highlights of the balanced budget include:

  • Highest level of local funding for education in City’s history - $94.5 million - $6.7 million more than FY22
  • Highest level of funding for community safety in City’s history - $75.7 million
  • Highest compensation Increases for public safety in decades - $3.7 million increase over FY22 for Sheriff, Fire-EMS, and Police, including full implementation of Step Pay Plan for Police
  • More than $64 million in capital investments – schools, parks, street paving, bridges, stormwater management
  • Continued regional partnerships - $10.7 million – economic development, mental health, transportation, tourism, arts and culture
  • Greater transparency in capital investments
  • Continued advancement on addressing equity and disparities in the community

Roanoke’s resilient economy has enabled tax revenues capable of supporting these enhancements and investments while also allowing the highest Fund Balance – more than $50 million, in the City’s history to protect against unforeseen catastrophic negative economic impacts.  

Roanoke’s local economy has proven remarkably resilient throughout the pandemic, providing the funds necessary to deliver essential services and invest in our people, facilities and future at unprecedented levels.  However, many needs remain unmet and current successes remain tenuous. We must remain fixed on our mission and strategic in our actions, if we are to continue to support the residents and businesses in our community and ensure the Star City remains strong.

Find Out More

Visit https://www.roanokeva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/17334/FY23-RECOMMENDED-BUDGET-DOCUMENT to read the City Manager’s full budget message and the proposed budget which was presented to the City Council at their meeting on the afternoon of April 18, which may be viewed at https://www.roanokeva.gov/1837/Budget-Development .  A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 7:00 pm April 26.   Adoption of the FY23 budget will occur on the evening of May 9.

-Bob Cowell

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