Virginia Beach leaders push massive project to combat flooding; plan calls for tax hike

Posted at 10:47 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 23:32:00-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Beach voters heading to the ballot box this November will fill in an extra question on the ticket – a referendum for a flood protection program.

Voting "yes" to fund the dozens of projects would mean a hike in property taxes.

“I didn’t see that part of it, and taxes are high enough in the Beach” said Virginia Beach resident David Scott after voting early Thursday.

Scott has lived in Virginia Beach for two decades. He voted in support of the project and agrees something needs to be done to fix the flooding problem but says there must be other ways than a tax increase.

“Personally, every penny I can save works for me,” Scott said. “I can’t pay extra. I got a kid in college. That’s life. That do hurts a little bit.”

Nanette Miller of Virginia Beach agreed.

“Everybody’s going to pay more,” said Miller. “You’re going to pay more at the pump. You’re going to pay more in rent. You’re going to pay more for houses.”

The project would cost a little more than half a billion dollars to complete 21 projects in 10 years - something the city said would otherwise take 40 years on its current revenue stream.

Miller was born and raised in Virginia Beach. She voted against the project.

“My property value went up $100,000,” Miller said. “That means now I’m going to owe that much more and now you want to put four more cents per $100? That’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of money.”

If voters OK the project, a property owner with a median home assessed at $267,000 would have to pay roughly $115 to $171 more a year in taxes.

Several people turned out to an informational meeting about the project that’d include drainage and pump station improvements, flood barriers and tide control devices to combat flooding in high-risk areas.

“We have a change in what we’re seeing with our tidal influence and the more frequent rainstorms,” said Deputy City Manager Ron Williams Jr. “We have systems that are inadequate in order to deal with the realities now.”

To fix the flooding issue, Miller believes the developers, not the taxpayers, should be held accountable for the costs.

“Somebody needs to have more pragmatic plan than just keep asking me to pay more money in taxes, so a developer or builder or somebody else doesn’t have to pay for it,” said Miller. “We all can’t keep paying for all these mistakes.”

Williams told News 3 the city has looked into funding the plan with federal dollars, but said there are very few programs to support the flooding problems and that it wouldn’t be enough money.

There is a virtual meeting Monday, Oct. 4 where folks can learn more. The next in-person information meeting is Thursday, Oct. 7 at Kempsville Rec Center.

Related: Hampton Roads could see record coastal flooding over the next decade, study warns