PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The new year just began, but Portsmouth city leaders are already looking ahead to the 2021 budget.
Residents got the chance to weigh in on what they’d like to see funded for the next fiscal year.
Mayor John Rowe said they wanted to get the public’s opinion early on in the process.
Public safety topped the list.
“We’re not going to have economic development or anything else if people continue to see Portsmouth as a high-crime city,” said one woman.
Although talks with a developer fizzled in 2019, a new public safety building is still a high priority for Rowe.
“Their infrastructure, primarily the utilities, are beginning to wear out so something’s going to have to be done,” Rowe said.
Another area of concern for residents is education.
“I just want to encourage you to give every nickel you can to the school system,” one man said. “If we want to attract young people with families, we have to have a good school system.”
Some residents say issues like poverty also shouldn’t be overlooked.
“It affects everything. From crime to education, the poverty issue does need to be dealt with,” the woman said.
Portsmouth’s future was a big talking point, but residents also showed up to make sure the city’s past isn’t forgotten.
Port Norfolk neighborhood residents want to see improvements to the area’s recreation center.
“It’s a historic building in a historic neighborhood,” John Lifsey said. “It’s been sitting empty for years because it needs repair and apparently there’s no money in the budget for it. Once an old, historic building is gone, you can’t replicate it — you won’t replicate it — so once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
The proposed budget will be presented in March and the public will have the chance to comment again in April before it’s adopted in May.