GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) – With Election Day only a few weeks away, 10 On Your Side is breaking down details on the bond project that sparked outrage at a local town hall meeting in Gloucester County.
If adopted, the referendum would fund construction of a new fire station, would renovate a sports complex and would renovate Gloucester Point Beach Park to address stormwater and flooding issues and beach erosion.
A proposed 2-cent increase on the County’s Real Estate Tax rate would provide funding for the projects.
According to county officials, the average home in Gloucester is valued at $318,000. Using that amount as an example, the tax increase would equate to an increase of $5.31 per month.
Several people attended an Oct. 4 Town Hall meeting to find out more about the projects and how the tax could impact them. That meeting got heated and resulted in deputies being called, and a citizen being charged with assault and battery.
County leaders said they are continuing to work to address the spread of misinformation in the process.
“Some of the things that have been stated are the projects aren’t going to be completed for many years in the future and we have a schedule that’s posted that lists them,” said County Administrator Carol Steele. “The time period is about an 8-year period of borrowing money and we front loaded the capitol project so that the majority of them – as many as possible – can go at the very beginning and be built early.”
The issue is titled “Capital Improvement Bonds” and is worded as a yes or no question on the November 7 ballot.
Shall the County of Gloucester contract a debt through general obligation capital improvement bonds in the maximum amount of $39,582,993 which would result in an estimated increase in the real estate tax rate of $0.02/$100 of assessed valuation, to provide funds to finance various capital improvement projects for (1) volunteer fire and rescue departments to include construction of a new fire department for Gloucester Volunteer Fire & Rescue and renovations to the bunk room at Abingdon Volunteer Fire & Rescue; (2) construction, improvement, and/or renovation of public school buildings and facilities to include renovations of Botetourt Elementary School, renovation of the Gloucester High School sports complex and associated site improvements, and school HVAC systems; and (3) parks and recreation to include Woodville Park water, sewer, lighting, bathrooms, construction of a community use building, and improvements at Gloucester Point Beach and Brown Park?Source: Virginia State Board of Elections
One of the biggest questions being posed by community members is “why are all the projects grouped together?”
“It’s common for referendums to include multiple community projects and fire and rescue, parks, mental health, schools all kinds of things like that,” said Steele. “Sometimes there’s a question where you can do yes or no for all of them, but in this case, the board opted to not do that – so it is an all or nothing.”
There’s a full breakdown of the bond issue on their website. It lists all of the projects included in the referendum, expected construction start dates and costs.