NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk will use $6 million in surplus personal property tax money to resurface many of its major thoroughfares in 2023.
Norfolk City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to appropriate the funding into the 2022-23 budget. The work is scheduled to be completed by November, Director of Public Works Richard Broad said in Tuesday’s work session ahead of the formal session vote.
This comes after a 2022 survey from Norfolk residents said 41% were either “dissatisfied” of “very dissatisfied” with the condition of major city streets.
City Manager Chip Filer says the extra $6 million in tax revenue came from higher than forecasted tax revenue, citing an unexpected increase in used car prices that caused many vehicles to be valued higher than they normally would.
Norfolk did lower car personal property taxes by 55% for cars under $20,000 in value via state relief, but any amount that went over the $20,000 threshold for that state relief was taxed at 100%.
Norfolk Councilman Tommy Smiegel said he’s “bothered” by the way Norfolk went about the tax collection, pointing to other local cities’ relief for when cars went over $20,000. He said he’s also upset that the predicted income from the tax relief was much higher than council was told.
“You downplayed that people were not going to pay this bill, and they did, and we collected a lot more tax revenue than expected,” Smiegel said. He said he wants council to give some money back to taxpayers, and to allow that 55% relief to extend above that $20,000 threshold going forward.
Deputy City Manager Catheryn Whitesell said that the city gets a capped $17 million from the state for relief and it’s targeted to help those whose cars are valued below $20,000. The “vast majority” of cars in Norfolk area are below $20,000, with an average value of about $11,000, Whitesell said. She added that changes to current relief levels would mean “we’re just losing money.”
The total personal property tax revenue for 2022 was $63.1 million, well above the $51.1 million in 2021. That was with the suspension of vehicle license fees in 2022, a typical revenue source of about $2 million, Whitesell said.
Norfolk though is expecting personal property tax revenue to drop back in 2023 and 2024 as used and new car prices are forecasted to fall back down.
What the $6 million will bring
Broad says with resurfacing the city wanted to focus on long sections of roadways that are largely trafficked and affect business. Those include Granby Street, Church Street, Ballentine Blvd., Newtown Road and W. Little Creek Road (E. Little Creek Road was previously completed).
This $6 million will be used in addition to $3.5 million in reimbursable VDOT funding that public works typically uses at the neighborhood street level.
There will also concrete road repairs (labeled in red in the map below), where the road underneath the asphalt will be fixed.
Broad says the city wanted to use the $6 million to get a bunch of projects out of the way at once, because the projects are disruptive to traffic and traffic control is expensive.
You can see more about what roads are scheduled to be fixed in Broad’s presentation starting at the 3-minute mark in this video.