VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - The Virginia Beach Firefighters' Union said it won't support bringing light rail to Virginia Beach.
"I think it would be an outstanding system in Virginia Beach if we could find a way to pay for it," said union president Bill Bailey.
That's the million dollar question about bringing light rail to Virginia Beach.
"I think we are already understaffed now," Bailey added.
Bailey is the president of Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters. The more than 450-member union has decided not support the Tide.
"We need to focus on what the core services," Bailey said. "That's what the citizens want and what the citizens deserve."
Firefighters are concerned about the City's budget going forward. Things have already been tight and there's fear that money will be set aside for the light rail and not public safety.
"The realties are that in the end public safety could be compromised," Bailey asked. "And that's one of the reasons we felt it was prudent to take the stand we did."
"Even in the heat of the recession, we've always made sure that we've funded public safety and never cut a position," said Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.
Sessoms says referendum will allow the City to explore what the Tide would cost. It's already been estimated at $807 million to extend the Tide to the oceanfront and $254 million if it were to just go to Town Center.
"The vast majority will come from federal and state government," Sessoms added. "If it doesn't come from those two pots of money, it won't be built period."
City council voted to have a referendum on the issue this November. Even if the referendum were to pass, it's no guarantee the Tide will ever come to the Beach.
Sessoms knows many groups will come out both for and against the Tide. Thursday night, the Virginia Beach Police Union will meet to discuss how it feels about light rail.
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