Virginia Beach, Va. – Should Virginia Beach residents pay to bring light rail to the resort city?
It’s been a hotly debated issue and one that was discussed at a city council budget meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Most of city council was in support of the current budget proposal. It includes $20 million for light rail funding, but that also comes with an increase in the real estate tax.
The city manager has proposed a six cent increase, with two cents going to light rail.
Councilmen John Moss and Bobby Dyer spoke out against it, though.
Both said they are not in support of raising taxes, saying they feel like many people’s budgets are already stretched thinly.
They also said they feel that a vote on light rail is coming before they have all the information they need, part of that being all the comments made during the public comment period.
It began March 30 and ended Tuesday, just one week before the vote is scheduled to take place.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, a public hearing on light rail was also held. Many did not hold back on letting the Mayor and Council know how they feel about the light rail coming to Virginia Beach.
"I think we would be making a horrible mistake if we don’t have the Light Rail. I want this to be regional effort, and I feel it is really important for Virginia Beach to be the linchpin for this," explained Mike Aschkenas, a longtime resident.
Other public hearing attendees, disagreed.
"Take care of our tax money," said George Donley. "Just because the state is going to give us a half off coupon does not make it that great of a deal. If someone is going to give you money and it's going to cost you more in the long run, it's still not worth it."
Voting on light rail and the proposed budget is scheduled to take place next Tuesday, May 12.