VIRGINIA BEACH — City Council voted unanimously to pass a $2 billion budget and nearly $400 million capital improvement program for the 2018-2019 fiscal year on Tuesday.
The vote brings to the election year budget cycle that saw City Manager David Hansen’s initial budget, which proposed tax and fee increases, fused with an alternative budget crafted by City Council’s most fiscally conservative members — John Moss, Jessica Abbott and Bobby Dyer.
The resulting budget, passed by council Tuesday, eliminated the need for new increases in taxes and fees.
Here are five things you should know about the budget:
1. Overall, the FY 2018-2019 operating budget is increasing 2.4 percent, which is slightly less than the 2.6 percent inflation rate Kiplinger’s Economic Periodical is forecasting for 2018 (Kiplinger is the model the city looks to for inflation numbers). More than 70 percent of the budget is dedicated to funding education (45.3 percent), infrastructure (13.7 percent), and public safety (12.2 percent).
2. Total debt service as part of the city and public school’s budget is lower than last year, by 2.5 percent. This year, the city will pay $162,562,043 in debt service — the interest principal that remains on outstanding city debt, usually in the form on bonds. Last year, the city paid $166,787,207 in debt service.
3. Included in the operating budget is $3.9 million in funding from the Agricultural Reserve Program being redirected to the stormwater Capital Improvement Program. The additional $3.9 million will support various flood control projects such as the improvements to Ashville Park’s drainage system. The ARP will not be completely eliminated, but land acquisition by the city under the program will be limited to 300 acres annually.
4. The CIP includes funding for some projects: the Oceanfront pier, an entertainment venue at the beach with a 3,500-person capacity, the sports center, development of the old Dome Site. All of these projects fall within the Oceanfront’s Central Beach Entertainment District between 14th and 25th Streets and Atlantic Avenue and Birdneck Road.
5. In order to eliminate the tax and fee increases in Hansen’s budget recommendations, the Moss, Abbott, Dyer amendments had to make up for that lost income; they did so by eliminating several positions, including two new positions at the city’s Storm Water Center of Excellence, three new positions in the Surface Water Regulatory Division, one Storm Water Construction Inspector.
The 2018-2019 budget will cover expenses for the city from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.