HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton City Council unanimously voted to adopt the city’s fiscal year 2024 budget on Wednesday, which features 5% raises for city employees and teachers, along with another decrease in the city’s real estate tax rate.

The rate was lowered to $1.16 per $100 in assessed value for FY24 (which starts July 1 of this year), after council lowered the rate six cents from $1.24 to $1.18 in 2022. That change was made after another unusually high jump in real estate assessments, something many other municipalities are seeing as well.

The minimum 5% raise for city staff will also come with step pay increases for public safety employees starting in January, a slight delay from the originally proposed July 1 date.

City Manager Mary Bunting said she made changes after concerns about “unintended consequences” with the initial plan were raised by public safety employees.

“We wanted to make sure that as we implemented the step system, we did it with integrity and really address the issues that we heard from police and fire employees over the years related to compression … so we did need to make some modifications to reflect time in division as opposed to time in rank.”

Bunting said those changes would require significant cuts to the budget if the step plan went into effect on July 1, but it can work starting January 1, 2024, as money will be freed up as the city finishes paying for several different one-time expenses.

Bunting says the city was then able to use the money saved by waiting until January 1 to cover 100% of the health insurance increases for city employees, instead of just 80% as initially proposed.

Other features of the budget include raising the minimum wage to $15 for city employees, and new positions and funding for various services requested by city residents, three new positions in human services to help with a rising caseload that’s double in the last three years.

There’s also funding for 5% raises and a step plan for teachers as well through the approved $272.7 Hampton City Schools budget.

The city says the full budget will be available to read online and in city libraries by the start of the fiscal year on July 1. You can read the budget proposal document here.