HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton’s proposed $611.4 million fiscal year 2024 budget includes minimum 5% raises for city staff and pay step increases for public safety employees, alongside a two-cent decrease in the city’s real estate tax rate from $1.18 to $1.16 per $100 in assessed value.

City Manager Mary Bunting shared some of the highlights of the proposed budget in Wednesday’s council work session, and the full copy of the budget was released online on Saturday. It also includes a $1.73 per month increase in monthly stormwater and wastewater bills for residents to pay for infrastructure maintenance and improvements, and a 93% assessment ratio for personal property tax (previously approved by council).

“Employee compensation and increasing our staffing levels have been among our top priorities as a Leadership Team and community,” Bunting said in her Manager’s Message in the budget. “I am pleased to be able to propose a pay increase of at least 5% for full-time employees who have been with us for at least a year.”

Bunting’s also proposing a new step pay plan that increases 2.5% per year for all police, fire and sheriff’s officers, a recommendation based on a compensation study funded last year. Bunting says the eligible public safety officers will get the 5% employee raise and then be place on a higher step as well this year.

Possible step system/pay band changes for non-public safety employees will come in 2025, Bunting added. $1.43 million will also go toward paying 80% of the expected health care premium increases for all employees this year.

All of the above changes total more than $12.6 million for fiscal year 2024.

“As the backbone of our service delivery system, our hard-working employees are certainly deserving of these raises,” Bunting said.

The budget proposal also recommends raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 (two and a half years ahead of the state mandate) and added positions and funding for services requested by city residents, including many understaffed departments such as Human Services, Community Development and the Treasurer’s Office, Bunting said.

That includes three new positions in Human Services to help a rising caseload in adult services (which has more than doubled in the last three years, Bunting says) and increased funding for outside agencies such as the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board, Foodbank and domestic violence intervention service Transitions.

Hampton also released its five-year capital improvements plan, which features proposed funding for renovations for 20 city schools, including a $20 million investment in fiscal year 2028 for a STEM wing expansion at Bethel High School.

Hampton City Schools has proposed a $272.7 million budget, a 1.7% increase from 2023, to pay for 5% raises and step increases as well for teachers. That proposal would increase in the city’s contribution by 7.4% to $91.8 million total.

You can read the full budget proposal here, ahead of two public hearings on the budget April 26 and May 3. Council will officially vote on the new budget on May 10.