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  Media Coverage
  Richmond Finds Funds Thought Lost
August 4, 2004

Last week, no one in Richmond City Hall could account for $600,000 that had been set aside to attack blight.

This week, it turned up where it belonged: in the Richmond Police Department's accounts.

The money, which moved from the Redevelopment Agency into the general fund and from there into police coffers, will be used to buy equipment and train staffers, acting Chief Charles Bennett said.

The City Council voted to move the money in mid-December.

But by July 27, no one could explain where it had gone.

The money actually had been transferred to the appropriate accounts, but between staff departures and vacations, no one was on board to communicate that to the council, Bennett said.

The blight abatement plan is four-pronged, including code enforcement, debris removal, street sweeping and towing, Bennett said.

"He's got some plans to really wage a fight on blight," said Councilman Tom Butt, who, with Councilwoman Mindell Penn, has been a strong voice for citywide cleanup.

"I think we're going to start making some real inroads," Butt said. "It's starting to turn around."

The council last week handed the effort $250,000 for staffing, but the money can be used only to fund cleanups in redevelopment areas.