Chesapeake, Va.- Martha Ross-Rodgers says the special tax fund amassed on the backs families and businesses in South Norfolk should stay in South Norfolk.
But every year, the city siphons off more than a million dollars to its general fund. That's money she says would bring more business, because she herself needed convincing. To her, South Norfolk was too run down, and too dangerous. But she says God told her to take a chance.
“This is really a great place to be,” says Ross-Rodgers.
A few doors down, Navy veteran Chris Dawson says South Norfolk has been the perfect place for his business.
“It`s a small area, but it is up and coming. And there is a lot of potential,” says Dawson.
South Norfolk has special rules that keeps more of its tax dollars in the community, to keep it moving forward. Neighbors want to turn boarded up buildings into pharmacies; empty lots into grocery stores.
But every year, the city uses some of that money pay for things neighbors say the city should pay for anyway, like a renovation loan for a school, street lighting, and landscaping. City Manager James Baker says those projects do benefit the neighborhood and in some cases, gets things done faster.
“In some cases, it is accelerating a project,” says Baker.
But neighbors say the fund should pay for the extras, not the basics.
“Take a look around. We need more money in this area. To me this area is an area worthy of being invested in,” says Ross-Rodgers.
Baker says it is all an investment in South Norfolk. And, believe it or not, he's actually happy when neighbors there keep pressing him for more.
“The worst problem you can have in an area that needs redevelopment is apathy. So the fact that they beat on me and say the city is not doing enough, that`s a good thing from my perspective,” says Baker.