Hampton proposes maintaining real estate tax rate, increasing some fees for flooding prevention, pollution control and maintenance

Hampton

Hampton City Hall (WAVY photo/Brett Hall)

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Those living in Hampton may continue to pay the same rate on their property taxes but could shell out more in stormwater fees and wastewater fees to cover flooding prevention, pollution control and maintenance.

On Wednesday, City Manager Mary Bunting presented her proposed $530.3-million fiscal year 2022 operating budget, which begins July 1 of this year.

The budget is a 2.6% increase over the current fiscal year.

“… [I]t will actually accomplish many of the citizen’s and Council’s top priorities. overall. That’s largely because many of those projects were technically in the current budget (fiscal year 2021) but frozen due to the risk of revenue loss from the pandemic,” the city wrote in a news release Wednesday.

This year’s budget focuses on several areas:

  • competitive compensation for the city workforce
  • investments in public safety, education, family resilience and economic empowerment
  • placemaking
  • economic growth
  • coastal resiliency.

“Taken together, those priorities are designed to create a stronger city that addresses our physical challenges (flooding, blight, and older housing); creates a stronger tax and employment base (company investments, higher-wage jobs, tourism) to fund services and facilities; ensures safety and security; provides education that uplifts us at all ages; strengthens families and neighborhoods; grows economic opportunities and independence; and builds on our 400-year-old heritage and waterfront location as a place filled with art, music, food, recreation, and diversity,” Bunting said in a prepared statement in the news release.

Pay raises and new positions

This upcoming budget includes salary increases to keep city wages competitive with other localities that are also giving raises this upcoming year. The budget would add targeted salary adjustments for specific jobs where the city has “fallen behind the market.”

The budget’s salary increases will also meet the state’s new minimum wage of $11 per hour.

Bunting also proposes adding new positions with the police department to increase public safety.

Real estate, taxes and fees

While real estate and car taxes are proposed to remain the same at $1.24 per $100 of assessed value, the majority of homeowners could see increases in their real estate bills due to an increase in home assessments. The majority of homeowners saw an assessment increase of 5% or less, while 3.5% of homeowners saw bumps of more than 20%.

As far as the budget, revenue from increase real estate assessments will be offset by drops in revenue due to decreased commercial assessments, meals taxes, hotel taxes, amusement taxes, interest income, and more.

If the tax rate stays stable, the median homeowner would pay an additional $10.44 per month.

Bunting said she would have recommended a tax rate decrease, but the new round of federal funding for COVID-19 relief under the American Rescue plan prohibits states and territories from using the money to reduce tax rates.

Bunting is recommending a $1 monthly increase in the monthly stormwater user fee and a 33 cent increase in the sewer user fee.

Schools

The proposed 2022 budget also includes recurring and one-time increases for Hampton City Schools.

The total local contribution for schools would be $80.2 million, an increase of $3.2 million from the current fiscal year.

Those increases will help give teachers and staff raises, adjust pay scales and support the College and Career Academy program.

The superintendent in March recommended a 5% salary increase for full and part-time employees. This does not include temporary positions, as well as some part-time teaching positions. 

The school division superintendent also recommended bringing back some initiatives from the current year’s budget that were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, including:

  • Increasing minimum wage 
  • Adding teacher and support staff market adjustments 
  • Increasing coaching and instructional supplements by 12% 
  • Adding 1 part-time assistant principal 
  • Adding 1 school psychologist 
  • Adding 2 school social workers 
  • Adding 1 school security officer 
  • Implementing the School Meals Expansion Program

Other city investments

  • Additional funds for enhanced public-safety street lighting and surveillance systems
  • Investments in city housing stock
  • Investments in flood mitigation and prevention efforts
  • Investments in Family Resilience and Economic Empowerment initiatives, such as the youth employment program and workforce development.”

In the long run, these measures are also designed to get at the roots of some of our youth violence by providing job training and other skills to our young people,” the city said.

Click here for an overview of the fiscal year 2022 budget.

The full proposed budget will be released on Thursday, April 15, at www.hampton.gov/budget.

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