Find ‘balance’ in the city’s budget with this online tool

VIRGINIA BEACH — City Manager David Hansen released his proposed FY2020 budget to City Council on Tuesday.

But before council votes May 24 on an adopted budget, residents have the opportunity to make suggestions about it using some new tools, Julie Hill, the city’s spokeswoman, wrote in a news release.

People can provide feedback at live public hearings, via email or using a website tool known as “Balancing Act.”

Balancing Act lets residents adjust the proposed 2018-2019 city budget and suggest changes. Residents can raise or lower individual taxes and raise or lower individual spending items.

Related story: If this proposal goes through, expect increases in real estate taxes, water and trash rates in Virginia Beach

The only catch is that the budget must balance. For every change in spending or revenue, there must be an offsetting change elsewhere. Lower taxes? You can adjust that on the website, just lower spending or raise revenues somewhere to balance the budget.

Users may leave comments and click the “submit” button. City Council will get all suggested changes and comments.

Another online tool, Taxpayer Receipt, estimates how much residents pay in city taxes and what they get for their money.

On Taxpayer Receipt, users may anonymously enter their age, income, value of their home or car. The tool will show an estimate of the total tax bill and where the money is spent.

The website also calculates taxes on real estate and personal property, and estimates taxes on restaurant meals and sales based on age and income. It does not include fees for water, sewer, trash and storm water.

Residents may also send comment on the budget to the entire City Council by emailing citycouncil@vbgov.com. The email addresses of individual City Council members can be found here. General questions about the budget can be sent to budget@vbgov.com.

 To read the complete budget, visit www.VBgov.com/budget.

City Council will hold two dedicated public hearings during special sessions about the FY2020 budget:

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An extensive writing background and love of storytelling brought Joshua Weinstein to Southside Daily in 2017. You can find him reporting on Virginia Beach City Government, major land developments, and anything in the public interest.