VB should raise property tax by 2.3 cents to fund flood protection projects

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Residents of Virginia Beach will likely see a property tax increase in the coming fiscal year.

On Tuesday, Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney met with the city council and proposed raising the property tax by 2.3 cents per $100 of assessed property value in the fiscal year 2023 budget.

Even with the increase, the rate would still be the lowest in the region at $1,013 per $100 of assessed property value.

The increase is not unexpected, however. The tax rate hike was part of the deal to speed up flooding projects that voters approved in a referendum last fall.

In November, nearly 73% of voters approved a referendum on the $567.5 million bond this would help fund 21 flood protection projects. The money to pay the debt service would come from an increase in the property tax. The referendum allowed the rate to rise to 4.3 cents, but only a 4.1 cent increase would be needed now due to organic growth in property valuations, the city said.

However, city officials recommend raising the rate by just 2.3 cents. In the executive summary of the fiscal year 2023 budget, officials said the funding would come from a 2.3 cent increase in the tax rate. The rest of the money needed to pay bond debt service, about $12.3 million, would be redirected from the general fund and the school funding formula.

“Through organic revenue growth within the General Fund, this proposed budget includes only a 2.3¢ increase and still provides for enhanced general services for the city,” reads the executive summary.

Most other municipal fees would remain the same.

As for personal property tax, which applies to property such as vehicles, the city has decided that cars will be assessed at 75% of their value against the personal property tax rate. The change aims to relieve residents assessed values ​​of used vehicles are skyrocketing.

Last budget season, The Virginia Beach City Council voted unanimously to cut the property tax rate by 2.75 cents. That saved residents a total of $17 million, according to city documents.

In addition to changing the property tax to help fund flood protection projects, the city manager’s proposed $2.5 billion budget includes cash to “put the city’s labor needs top of the list of priorities,” according to a letter from a city manager included in the executive. summary.

Initiatives to hire and retain employees include:

  • Establish a $32.8 million compensation reserve that could potentially fund cost-of-living adjustments, recruitment and retention allowances to help with child care and student loan costs, reduced premiums health care and more.
  • Establish a formal, paid internship program to develop ties with local students and educational institutions.
  • Create a human resources analyst position to improve recruitment and outreach efforts.
  • Increase the number of user licenses for Salesforce Marketing, which could help departments track people applying for municipal jobs more regularly.

The city manager said the Virginia Beach Correctional Center and Parks and Recreation needed additional funds to support prison operations and essential community programs such as “Out of School Time.”

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A dwindling number of rescue team volunteers also led the city manager to propose adding 23 full-time paramedic and EMT positions to this year’s list.

“The City of Virginia Beach has long benefited and will continue to benefit from the partnership with our various volunteer rescue teams and the exceptional services our interdependent emergency response network provides; however, recent declines in volunteer numbers have created service delivery that I fear is unsustainable and a risk that I believe requires immediate attention,” Duhaney wrote.

Funding for schools represents a large part of the budgets of most localities. This year, it represents 46.1% of the total amount.

Schools across the country are facing staffing shortages, which have only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. The school board approved the superintendent’s proposed budget, which would include $46 million in compensation-related increases, including a 5% increase for most employees and the reclassification of teaching assistants and security assistants to a higher level of pay, among other changes.

Duhaney’s proposed budget also recommends investing in improvements to the resort area to attract more tourists.

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