Va. Beach picks light rail extension plan, approves budget

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Council members voted 9-2 Tuesday night in favor of a light rail extension plan to Town Center.

Out of five options, council members chose the one that would take the line from Newtown Road through Town Center, stopping just east of Constitution Avenue. This is the least expensive route and was recommended to council by city staff.

“By voting to support an expansion of high-capacity transit into the Commonwealth’s largest city, the council has recognized the critical need for cities in Hampton Roads to work cooperatively to manage regional needs,” Hampton Roads Transit CEO William Harrell said after the vote.

Council decided last week to set aside $20 million to expand the The Tide.

Document: Breakdown of Va. Beach 2015-16 budget

City council also approved a $1.87 billion budget for the coming year by a vote of 9-2. That’s 2.2 percent larger than last year’s budget, which is basically the rate of inflation.

The new budget allots more money to emergency medical services, bio-medical research, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, the Virginia Aquarium, reducing bay and river pollution, a new city auditor position, and pay increases to city employees.

It cuts 210 jobs from schools and 29 jobs from the city, and increases real-estate tax by six cents, which will be about $15 per month for the average homeowner.

$300 million is planned for major construction projects, including school renovations, better roads, keeping flooding out of residential areas and improving water and sewer lines.

The budget also plans funding for infrastructure improvements that will enable a private developer to build and operate a major arena at the Oceanfront.

You can view the city’s resource management summary, operating budget and capital improvement plan for the 2015-16 fiscal year by clicking here.

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