Here’s a preview of City Council this week

VIRGINIA BEACH — City Council will hold meeting on two separate days this week; an informal workshop on Tuesday, April 24 and a special formal session the following day which will act as a public hearing on the 2018-2019 budget.

The special formal session will be at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Ballroom 1 at 6:30 p.m. The agenda for the formal session will focus on the city’s proposed increases in fees and taxes and the city’s general obligation and stormwater utility bonds.

Informal session: April 24

During Tuesday’s informal session, City Council will receive budget briefings from representatives of the city’s school board, as well as its libraries, economic development, Convention and Visitors Bureau and agriculture departments.

Among major budget items up for discussion during the workshop:

Schools

  • The city’s second-phase expansion of its full-day kindergarten program.
  • The replacement of 38 school buses and two special education buses.
  • Capital improvement program.
A list of some of the major projects under design or construction included in the city's CIP (Courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)
A list of some of the major projects under design or construction included in the city’s CIP (Courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)

Public Libraries

Economic Development

  • 38 percent increase in proposed budget; from $4,268,500 to $5,889,639 an increase of $1,621,139.
  • Grow Smart’s importance to city’s future economy.
  • Developments over past year:

Related story: College Beach Weekend could cost Virginia Beach up to $300,000

Convention and Visitors Bureau

  • Proposed 10.7 percent increase in advertising budget.
  • Outside expenses cut by over 50 percent — $753,468.91 — from last year.
  • Virginia Beach Sports Center.

Agriculture

  • Estimated economic impact of $128 million in 2017.
  • Agritourism.
  • Agricultural Reserve Program — requesting restoration
    • Enrolled 9,722 acres since the program’s inception in 1995.

After the above budget briefing Tuesday, City Council will receive a briefing on the city’s debt as well as the interim financial report from Patricia Phillips, the director of the Department of Finance.

Barry Frankenfield, director of Planning and Community Development, will also provide a glimpse of May’s planning items.

College Beach Weekend

Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera will wrap up the informal session with a presentation to City Council on the city’s approach to College Beach Weekend, the annual gathering that brought more than 35,000 people to the Oceanfront in 2017. This year’s CBW will be April 27 through April 29.

The event is not hosted or sanctioned by the city, said City Manager David Hansen, and the “incidents of violence, heavy traffic, litter and rude behavior have cast a negative view” over the event and the city’s tourism reputation.

Police Chief Jim Cervera, left, and Deputy City Manager Steve Cover field questions days after College Beach Weekend in May 2017. (Staff/Southside Daily)

Since College Beach Weekend began in 2013, the city has struggled to handle the massive crowds and behaviors resulting in arrest.

This year, the city formed a task force to formulate an approach to the safety, traffic and capacity concerns during College Beach Weekend. The task force is composed of members of the Human Rights Commission, Resort Advisory Commission, universities, Virginia Beach Restaurant Association, Virginia Beach Hotel Association and other civic and community groups.

The Human Rights Commission will implement is “Independent Observer Program.” Observers during the event will monitor the Oceanfront and provide feedback to authorities when necessary.

Cervera will brief council members on the task force’s recommendations, as well as the city’s approach to traffic management, what police can and cannot do, social media surveillance of the event and tailored messaging about the city’s expectations of visitors during the weekend.

Mayor Will Sessoms said College Beach Weekend can be a success if people come together to work out the problems.

“There needs to be more cooperation between everyone involved,” Sessoms said.

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