Reminder: Expect higher stormwater utility fees in Virginia Beach this year

Flooding, seen here in a 2014 city presentation on eastern Shore Drive drainage improvements. Public works asked the city for $4.2 million this fiscal year to improve stormwater infrastructure (Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
Flooding, seen here in a 2014 city presentation on eastern Shore Drive drainage improvements. Public works asked the city for $4.2 million this fiscal year to improve stormwater infrastructure (Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The Virginia Beach Department of Public Works will be phasing in another stormwater fee increase as part of its budget proposal, according to documents released by City Manager David Hansen.

The city began phasing in rate increases on stormwater fees last year, when it raised the fee 2.5 cents per day, per household — from 43.3 cents per day to 45.8 cents per day, according to the the city’s operating budget from last year. The increase added an additional $9.12 annually to resident’s stormwater bill annually.

The stormwater utility fee will be raised another 2.5 cents again this year — to 48.3 cents per day — again adding an additional $9.12 to residents bills. The annual increases will continue until fiscal year 2020-2021, according to last year’s operating budget. According to that math, by 2021, Virginia Beach residents will be paying $45.60 more per year in stormwater fees.

The increase came as part of the stormwater capital improvement plan, or “CIP,” for fiscal years 2019-2024, which public works officials presented to city council during Tuesday’s workshop. Proposed funding for the CIP totals $270.7 million over the next six years, said public works engineer Mark Jones.

Nearly half of those proposed CIP funding needs — 46 percent, or $123.5 million — are slated to be dedicated to flood control measures, according to the presentation.

Public works’ proposed stormwater budget presentation said that aging stormwater infrastructure is leading to increases in maintenance needs and that “flood control has become a critical neighborhood issue and is more complicated and expensive.”

Some of the most expensive ongoing projects include:

  • Ashville Park drainage improvements, which will cost $35 million, with $9 million of that already funded
  • Central Resort District drainage improvements, with a cost of $113 million and only $300,000 appropriated
  • Shore Drive stormwater collection and tide gate improvements, with a total project cost of $83.2 million and of it $56.1 million funded
  • The Lake neighborhoods drainage improvements, with a $129 million project cost and a balance of $73 million in projects remaining

City Manager David Hansen, along with Public Works Permit Administrator Melanie Coffey and Councilmember Barbara Henley discussed whether the stormwater fee needed to continually be raised. Henley specifically commented on Ashville Park’s repeated flooding issues being attributed to the land upon which the developer recently built homes. Ashville park was slated for 499 units, but has just under 300 built due to flooding issues, according to Henley.

“I just don’t think it’s right to keep raising that fee” and essentially pay for future development and stormwater maintenance at flood-prone places like Ashville Park, rather than current residents and neighborhoods.

The fees are still slated to increase this July.

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