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Richmond Lawyer Says He Has Enough Signatures To Put Coliseum Deal On The Ballot

Lawyer and activist Paul Goldman speaking to the press outside Richmond City Hall earlier this year.
Lawyer and activist Paul Goldman speaking to the press outside Richmond City Hall earlier this year.

Local lawyer and activist Paul Goldman says he has collected more than 14,000 signatures for a referendum on Richmond’s coliseum redevelopment deal.

The referendum is aimed at the special taxing zone, known as a tax increment financing district, that is a key part of how the city plans to pay for its $600 million share of the project. All new taxes generated in the TIF district would go to paying off the coliseum. But if voters approve the proposed referendum, it would require that 51% of the new tax money go to schools, not the coliseum.

Goldman said he hopes adding new restrictions to the financing structure would kill the redevelopment deal, or at least lead to less reliance on public funding.

“What they’re doing is they’re taking $600 million off the top and they’re spending it only on the coliseum," he said. "What we’re saying is, ‘No, that’s not going to fly.’”

Goldman said he’s submitting the 14,000 signatures to the general registrar early next week. About 10,000 of those signatures will need to be verified and signed off on by a judge for the referendum to make it on the November ballot. The referendum also includes a provision barring the City of Richmond from increasing the meals tax for five years, unless the question is put directly to voters. 

A spokesperson for Mayor Levar Stoney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A final decision on whether it will appear on the ballot won’t come until mid-August.

You can read a copy of the referendum here.