City Manager James K. Spore today proposed a $1.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2013-14 that includes no increase in the real estate or vehicle tax rates, and keeps spending almost flat.
Under this budget, Virginia Beach would still have the lowest tax rates among the seven major cities of Hampton Roads, including:
· The lowest real estate tax rate
· The lowest car tax rate
· The lowest meals tax rate
· The lowest machinery and tools tax rate
“We are in much better shape than we anticipated in November,” Spore said. “We will not have to raise the real estate tax rate to fund schools and transportation, as we did last year. We also will not have to dip so far into our savings accounts, as we did each of the past four years. In short, this budget is the most sustainable in years.”
The proposed budget would grow just $5.5 million, or three-tenths of 1 percent – far less than the 2.1 percent inflation rate in 2012. It’s the second budget in a row with growth of less than 1 percent.
No cuts are proposed in public safety agencies. In fact, those departments – police, fire, EMS, 911 and the prosecutor’s office – would add 12 new positions.
City officials had expected a more difficult budget in November, when they estimated real estate assessments would drop 3 percent. Instead, assessments dropped only 0.8 percent. That’s significant because the real estate tax is the city’s largest revenue source. As a result, the city will have $10 million more in revenues than expected.
To partly offset reductions in federal and state revenues, the proposed budget includes four small tax and rate increases:
- A $1 increase in the boat tax (per $100 of value) to help fund dredging projects that directly benefit boaters.
- A 5-cent increase in the cigarette tax to fund economic development projects that bring new jobs.
- A $3 monthly increase in the waste management fee to help fund garbage disposal. Virginia Beach’s discount with SPSA, the regional trash agency, will end in 2015. Virginia Beach has the second-lowest waste fee of the seven major cities in Hampton Roads.
- Higher fees for some parks and recreation programs, some planning permits and some special event permits to help defray costs.
The city will hold a public budget information session on April 4 at 6 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. City Manager James Spore and Management Services Director Catheryn Whitesell will give a presentation and take questions. It is not a public hearing. It is in addition to two scheduled public hearings. The information session will give citizens a chance to learn more about the factors that shaped the proposed budget.
The City Council will hold two public budget hearings: April 18 at Virginia Beach Middle School, and April 23 in the City Council chamber. Both are at 6 p.m. The council is scheduled to vote on the budget May 14.
To view the proposed city budget, visit www.VBgov.com/budget.
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