Portsmouth mayor opposes 17-cent tax hike

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Around noon Thursday, Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth Wright addressed the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce during his state of the city speech. He touted strong economic growth and a bright future, but a future that hinges on next year’s budget.

This week, the budget proposed for next year included a real-estate tax increase of 17 cents.

“Seventeen cents is way too much to ask any of our citizens during this tough economic time,” Mayor Wright said. “But again, I applaud the manager and his staff for what they tried to do, but there are a lot of things that we can cut on.”

That’s the dilemma facing the city: to balance the budget, spending and city services must be cut or more taxes have to be collected.

“Doing nothing is not an option. We have to do something,” Wright said. “Throughout the region, just about all the cities are proposing some sort of increase [to real estate taxes].”

While 17 cents may be too high, Mayor Wright said he feels there is a compromise, but he needs the input of the citizens.

“[We need to] come to some agreement on what we want to provide from a service delivery perspective,” he said. “Once we do that and we marry that up with the numbers, if it means a tax increase, then I’m willing to go to the citizens and ask for one.”

As far as cuts, the mayor said he and city council will have to look those numbers over. That 17-cent tax hike is likely off the table, but he still expects some sort of increase to real-estate taxes.

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