Hampton Roads cities make plans to pay HRT bills

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Six cities in Hampton Roads have a big transportation bill to pay. In March, 10 On Your Side reported that the agency ended last year roughly $5.3 million over its $96 million budget.

HRT said a combination of ridership declining and costs going up caused the big gap. Norfolk, Newport News and Virginia Beach have the highest deficits to pay back. Those cities have to find around $4.5 million. Two cities already paid: Chesapeake and Portsmouth.

Over the phone, WAVY’s Matt Gregory spoke to Lisa Cipriano with the Newport News Budget Office. She said their $1 million bill came as a shock.

“When we commit our funding for HRT, we believe that will be the cost,” Cipriano said. “[We expect] that HRT will stay within their known budget.”

As each city finishes next year’s budget, they have to find a way to pay.

10 On Your side asked for interviews with someone from budget offices in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. In both cases, the cities sent plans in email.

The Resort City owes $1.5 million. A spokesperson said the city has added that to next year’s transportation budget.

Norfolk owes the most money — around $1.9 million. A spokesperson for the city said they plan to pay in installments over the next three fiscal years. That starts with $700,000 out of the general fund.

Newport News’ Budget Office said they still have work to do on a plan.

“We think very hard and long about how we use that reserve,” Cipriano said. “It’s just not a matter of we have $1 million lying around.”

As of right now, the city looks like it will pay the bill in installments, like Norfolk.