VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — In order to weather the economic turmoil COVID-19 is causing, the Virginia Beach acting city manager is suggesting deferring funding several items — including all recommendations by an independent investigator regarding the May 31 mass shooting at the Municipal Center.
Acting City Manager Tom Leahy gave a presentation Tuesday to City Council, saying he expects a loss of about $67.3 million in revenue for the fiscal year 2021 due to coronavirus.
He outlined a few ways to maintain a balanced budget despite the decrease in revenue, including reductions in previously-approved programs, deferring or eliminating new initiatives, nixing compensation increases and more.
This is on top of the recommendations he made the first time he proposed a 2021 budget three weeks ago.
Of those budget items to defer, Leahy suggested deferring $5.5 million in the budget that would have gone toward implementing recommendations from the Hillard-Heintze report.
Those recommendations include employee and public safety training, public safety building access equipment, a security office, and human resources staffing to centralize functions. The Hillard-Heintze budget initiative would have created 19 new positions.
Other items recommended for change include:
- Delaying construction of a new Burton fire station
- Delaying hiring for 17 vacant firefighter and paramedic positions
- Delaying hiring for several other positions including eight police officers and an executive assistant in the city manager’s office
- Reducing the city vehicle replacement program by $1 million
Leahy recommends reducing the originally proposed capital improvement plan to save $10.6 million as well. It would eliminate several projects during year one and delay funding for others until fiscal year 2021-2022.
He also recommends eliminating some operating budget initiatives totaling $1.3 million, which includes 14 full-time employee positions and expansion of the short-term rental program.
“There are few parts of the city that are not impacted by these proposed cuts,” Leahy said. “We have to be cognizant of the fact that if the economy does not turn around, some of our revenue reductions might be a little optimistic.”
The governor has also proposed cutting what it is giving to the city. Virginia Beach was poised to get a one time $10 million payment to help fund renovation work on Buildings 1, 2 and 11. Leahy proposed issuing additional bonds to make up the difference if the General Assembly approves the Governor’s changes.
Virtual public hearings on the budget have been planned for April 22 and 28.
Any citizen wishing to make comments during the April 22, 2020, virtual hearing must:
- Register for the WebEx at: https://vbgov.webex.com/vbgov/onstage/g.php?MTID=e95e57e7db05368bd295661087715ba1c
- Register with the City Clerk’s Office by calling (757) 385-4303 or via email at ABarnes@vbgov.com prior to 6 p.m. on April 22, 2020
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