Virginia Beach city council reviews ‘special’ budget proposal

Posted at 12:28 AM, Mar 27, 2015

Virginia Beach, Va. - The city manager calls his nearly $2 billion budget proposal for the next fiscal year "special."

It includes a light rail extension to Town Center, an arena at the Oceanfront and a 3% raise for city employees and teachers. The proposal requests a 6-cent real estate tax increase. City council still has to approve those ideas.

"This budget was hard to put together because it did try to look into the future and build for that community we want to be," said Catheryn Whitesell, the city's budget and management services director.

Whitesell says several major projects came together at the same time. The city is also seeing less money from the state and the federal government, leading to around $91 million fewer dollars for the city.

"Every year it gets tougher and tougher," said Whitesell. "We really had two choices: either raise revenue or we cut services."

Not everyone thinks a tax increase is the best idea. "They haven't begun to make the city's budget as lean as families' budgets. Until they do, it's unconscionable and shameful to come forward with the tax increase," said Councilman John Moss. To start, he thinks the payroll system could be more efficient, which he believes would save the city millions of dollars.

NewsChannel 3 talked with two other city council members. Two of them said they needed more time to review the proposal before making a decision on whether they supported it.

There are two public hearings: April 23 at Green Run High School and April 28 at City Hall. The city council is scheduled to vote on the budget on May 12.