Got Questions about the Proposed Flood Protection Program?

Get answers here.

construction on flood protection projectBefore you vote in this upcoming general election, you may have some questions about the referendum on the ballot concerning proposed funding for the City’s Flood Protection Program. Below you’ll find answers to a few of the most common questions residents are asking. If you don’t see your particular question here, check out the FAQ page for more or join us for one of the upcoming community information meetings.

What are the stormwater fees that are already collected used for?
The stormwater fees collected are used to fund the overall stormwater program, which includes some flood control projects, stormwater quality projects and ongoing stormwater maintenance. Stormwater maintenance includes (among other things), ditch cleaning, stormwater pipe cleaning, pump station maintenance, and dredging lakes, ponds and canals. There are 61 canals, 448 lakes/ponds and 38 associated dams/spillways that are dredged and maintained by the City. The current operating budget includes funding for 14 full-time employees for a stormwater pipe cleaning crew and 7 full-time employees for a stormwater maintenance crew to proactively address stormwater maintenance needs throughout the city.

Why does the City need more money to fund these projects?

Although the largest percentage of the City's Capital Improvement Program budget goes to stormwater (23%), the amount of funding the fees generate (which is about $40 million a year) is not enough to complete this amount of work in less than 40 years. The additional funding received from the bond referendum will allow the City to accelerate projects currently underway and begin several new projects to address recurrent flooding much sooner. Without this funding, projects will be delayed and more flooding events will be endured without adequate protection.

Why is the City trying to complete so many expensive projects?

You’re right, this is not inexpensive work. We’re talking about major construction projects, many of which are in and around areas where there is other infrastructure to work around (homes, businesses, and roadways). There about $2 billion in work needed to protect the city from the ongoing and increasing impacts of sea level rise and severe weather events. These projects are among the highest priorities. The additional funding received from the bond referendum will allow the City to accelerate projects currently underway, begin several new projects to address recurrent flooding much sooner and allow existing resources in place to be redirected to focus on stormwater maintenance efforts.

Why can’t the City use some of the money it spends on tourism to pay for these flood protection projects?

The largest percentage of the City's Capital Improvement Program budget, 23%, goes to fund stormwater mitigation efforts. Economic & tourism development is only 4% of that budget. Tourism-related projects are primarily funded by the City's Tourism Investment Program Fund, which is revenue-generated largely from out-of-town visitors.

How can we be sure that the City will use this money on the flood protection projects and not divert the funds to pay for something else?

The bond referendum question that is on the ballot includes the names of the projects in Phase 1 of the Flood Protection Program, which means legally, the funds can only be spent on those specific projects. The City Council voted to establish a special revenue fund, which is like a lockbox, where the revenue collected from the increase in real estate taxes will be deposited and withdrawals from that fund can only be used for the Flood Protection Program. The City Council also established a Citizen Oversight Board that will oversee and report on the progress of the Flood Protection Program. They will provide regular public briefings to the City Council to report on the progress of the flood protection program and the work to eliminate the backlog in ongoing maintenance of the city's ditches, canals and ponds. 

Where can I find out how stormwater funds are being used?

A detailed accounting of the City’s stormwater budget is included in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) documents found on the City website here:

The current budget documents are under the “FY22 Adopted Budget” tab. Previous fiscal year budgets are under the “Budget Archive” tab. 

How can I find out what City services are funded with the taxes I pay?

The Virginia Beach Taxpayer Receipt is an interactive budget simulation tool that creates an estimate of the local taxes you pay to the City and illustrates the services that are funded by the revenue allocated to the City’s General Fund. You can input your information in the tool here:

How much will Phase 1 of the Flood Protection Program cost and how will it be funded? 

The bond referendum asks residents to vote on authorizing $567.5 million dollars in debt to fund the design and construction of 21 projects included in Phase 1 of the citywide Flood Protection Program. The City plans to finance these projects through a loan—or a bond, for cities. City Council voted to put safeguards in place to ensure the money will be dedicated to pay for these projects. Our obligation is to make sure there is money to pay the debt off, which is being planned for a 20-year period. Instead of increasing the stormwater fee, the City is proposing an increase in the real estate tax of 4.3 cents per $100 of a property’s assessed value. And the stormwater fee will be locked in at the current rate until 2028. 

What economic impact would the Flood Protection Program have on the city? 

Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy and Institute for Coastal Adaptation & Research prepared a report for the City of Virginia Beach analyzing the economic costs and benefits of accelerating flood protection construction. The report estimates:
  • For every additional dollar of investment in public infrastructure, future financial damages from flooding would decline by between $13 and $15 
  • Without the additional flood mitigation projects, annualized losses from flooding are projected to grow from about $75 million to $350 million by 2060 
  • The construction itself could result in economic impact of $371.5 million and 3,300 jobs in the next decade

How will the projects be paid for?

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