VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - There could be another bump in the road to bring light rail to Virginia Beach after the city's police officers voted not to support the Tide.
"Right now, we are going to move forward and take the same route firefighters are taking at this point," said Chip Condon, president of the Virginia Beach Police Supervisors Association.
Wednesday night, it was the firefighters union who came out against bringing the Tide to the Beach. A day later, the police officers followed suit.
"In the last several years, the council just hasn't approved any pay raises and there have been health care raises," Condon added. "Basically, we've all taken pay cuts and they still looking to go forward with a major multi-million dollar project rather than taking care of police fire and teachers."
Condon's group, along with the Police Benevolent Association, represents the city's 800 officers.
"That's our major concern," Condon said. "They can find the money to do those things, but when it comes down to taking care of the employees and taking care of public safety they can't find the money."
"The realties are that in the end could public safety be compromised," said Bill Bailey with Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters. "That's one of the reasons we felt it was prudent to take the stand we did."
It's been estimated it would cost $807 million to extend the Tide to the oceanfront and $254 million if it were to just go to Town Center. Mayor Will Sessoms believes most of that would not come from the city's budget.
"The vast majority will come from federal and state government," said Sessoms. "If it doesn't come from those two pots of money, it won't be built period."
But even with that said, just like firefighters, the police officers want to make sure money used for light rail isn't money that should be used for public safety.
"If you can't give the money to teachers, if you can't give it to firefighters, if you can't give it to police men, if you can't retain quality employees here why are we spending more money in this area?" Condon added.
Police are going to take this "no support of light rail" vote back to their 400 plus members and will also ask the Virginia Beach Fraternal Order of Police to stand along side them.
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