City Council Budgets More Money for Schools, Public Safety, Libraries, Museums

Adopted Budget Maintains Rates on Real Estate and Car Taxes; Raises Trash Fee $1.64 a Month

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

​The Virginia Beach City Council has adopted a budget for 2016-17 that includes higher pay raises for teachers, more medics and firefighters, more books for libraries and longer hours for museums than originally recommended.

The $1.9 billion operating budget for 2016-17 preserves the lowest tax rates in Hampton Roads while funding 127 new school employee and 10 new police officer positions, a new fire and rescue station, and the opening of a new recreation center.

In March, City Manager Dave Hansen proposed a budget for 2016-17 that included dozens of construction projects, including many road improvements, and boosts to schools and public safety. 

After listening to citizens online and at public meetings, the City Council amended the proposed budget in several significant ways:

School employees: Added $2.4 million to give school employees the same 3.44 percent pay raise as city employees. The original proposed budget had included funding for a 2 percent pay raise for school employees. Half of the additional money will come from the city, half from the state.

Public safety: Added $1 million to add four career medics citywide, four firefighters for Creeds and Blackwater, four firefighters for Little Neck and additional emergency medical technician training and supplies.

Museums: Added $193,000 to restore city funding to the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, the Old Coast Guard Station museum, city-owned historic homes and historic preservation. The proposed budget included cuts to those programs. The adopted budget also includes $75,000 for a feasibility study for the proposed African American Cultural Center.

Libraries: Added $105,000 to restore the purchase of library books and materials to 2016 levels.

City employees: Added $850,000 to fund the first year in a two-year program to combat vertical compression, in which some managers are paid less than the people they supervise. This will affect about 200 employees.

Development services: Added $372,000 to hire two new HVAC inspectors and two new development project liaisons to help citizens and businesses navigate the development and permitting processes.

Courts: Added $254,000 to address maintenance issues at the Judicial Center. The money will come from a $2 increase in the fee assessed for each civil case filed.

Overall, spending next year will increase 2.3 percent – roughly the rate of inflation. It is the city’s first budget since the recession that shows revenue growth without a major tax rate increase. Tax rates on real estate and cars will not change.

The monthly trash fee – which pays for collections, disposal and recycling – will rise $1.64. Some recreation center fees also will increase. For example, the cost of a child’s one-year membership will rise $3. For adults, the increase will be $13.

The budget restores 127 school positions lost during the recession, creates a new Entrepreneurship and Business Academy at Kempsville High School and replaces 23 school buses. It also funds 110 body cameras for police officers – the first year in a four-year plan to supply 450 cameras. The Police Department will add 10 new officers for general policing – the first year in a multiyear plan to boost the size of the Virginia Beach police force.

The City Council also approved a six-year, $3-billion capital plan that calls for 210 construction projects, including replacing the Lesner Bridge, replacing the Kempsville Recreation Center, building a new fire and rescue station in Burton Station, extending light rail (pending a possible referendum and final City Council decision), replacing Princess Anne Middle School and Princess Anne High School, replacing the police station in Kempsville, alleviating flooding around Lake Holly and other neighborhoods, and expanding the citywide network of bikeways and trails.

To read the complete budget, visit www.VBgov.com/budget

To see an estimate of all your city taxes and where the money goes, visit Taxpayer Receipt at http://virginiabeachva.abalancingact.com/taxreceipt

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