VB launches website allowing citizens to change budget proposal

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Tuesday city leaders released details of the city’s $1.9 billion budget. They also launched two new interactive websites to allow citizens more virtual involvement in the budget process.

Balancing a big budget is never easy, so Virginia Beach wants its citizens to try it for themselves.

Catheryn Whitesell, Virginia Beach Budget Director told 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings, “I am a big proponent of people understanding how we spend their tax money.”

Tax Payer Receipt allows residents to see where every cent of their tax money goes.

Balancing Act gives people the chance to add or subtract from certain services all while trying to create a balancing budget based on the current Virginia Beach incomes and expenses.

“We really are trying to broaden the opportunity for them to not just provide input to the process but to actually help understand it,” Whitesell said.

Of the FY17 budget Whitesell said, “I feel really good that we’ve met a lot of the objectives that the council laid out for the community.”

The budget allows for $20 million in light rail exploration but not for its construction. “It’s really to generate the information they need. The city council needs to be able to make a decision once the referendum has happened,” Whitesell said.

The budget also includes a three percent raise for:

  • full-time city workers
  • 10 new police officers
  • 110 body cameras
  • An additional nine positions related to the body cameras including four new positions in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office
  • 15 new deputies
  • A new fire station in Burton Station
  • 127 new school positions
  • 23 new school buses
  • A new Kempsville Recreation Center

There are no proposed tax hikes, but solid waste fees go up $1.64 a month.

“I think it does a lot of things for the community, and it’s really minimal rate increases,” Whitesell said.

Citizens who create a balanced or surplus budget on the new website have the option of sending the information directly to the city.

The new websites are just one way to have your voice heard. There are two public hearings scheduled both at 6 p.m.:

  • April 21 – Cox High School, 2425 Shorehaven Drive
  • April 26 – City Council chamber, 2401 Courthouse Drive

Citizens can recommend changes and leave comments through a Virtual Town Hall. Click here.

Read a one-page summary of the budget here.

To read the complete budget, click here.

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