Residents looking for relief from flooding without paying more in taxes have at least two champions on the City Council.
Council members John Moss and Jessica Abbott have come up with an alternative to City Manager Dave Hansen’s proposed budget, which calls for a real estate tax increase of 1.25 cents per $100 of assessed value to help pay for full-day kindergarten and a stormwater fee increase of 2.5 cents per day for five years to make a dent in $450 million in needed drainage infrastructure repairs and upgrades.
Moss and Abbott’s plan would not raise taxes or stormwater fees, but within six years, it would fully fund drainage projects in eight neighborhoods including Windsor Woods, Princess Anne Plaza and Ashville Park.
The pair wrote a letter to the rest of the council on Tuesday, explaining their proposal and the reasons behind it.
“Should a weather event with serious adverse consequence once again be visited upon us, this council should want to be able to look residents in the eye and convey that we put them first and we did all that could be reasonably expected,” the letter said.
In addition to the drainage projects, Moss and Abbott’s plan differs from Hansen’s by reallocating for drainiage projects all money set aside for light rail. It also would not include money for full-day kindergarten. Under Hansen’s proposal, full-day kindergarten would be funded for two years.
Several residents spoke to council members Tuesday night during a public hearing on the city manager’s proposed budget, and a majority would like to see drainage projects funded before the 15-year timeline that Hansen has put forth.
“We all have the same goal,” Princess Anne Plaza civic league member William Jennings said. “We only differ on how and when we will rebuild our infrastructure.”
Others, like Virginia Beach Tea Party Chairwoman Dianna Howard, said residents have spent years paying stormwater fees and still ended up “standing waist-deep in water” after Hurricane Matthew.
“You have the nerve to look at us and say, ‘Sorry about that, let’s raise fees and taxes on you,’ “ Howard said.
There will be another public hearing on April 27 at 6 p.m. at Bayside High School.The council will vote on the proposed budget and capital improvement plan on May 9.