VB flood mitigation bond referendum passes; city to borrow $567.5 million to fund 21 projects

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach voters overwhelmingly approved a proposal to raise real estate taxes in order to fund several fund flood mitigation projects.

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With over 36,000 residents voting yes on the referendum, the city will borrow $567.5 million to fund 21 flood protection projects that’ll be completed in six to seven years.

The projects, which vary from the construction of new pump stations to the planting of new marshlands in Back Bay, were chosen by city staff either because of their ability to address significant community flooding concerns or because of their ability to be “shovel ready.” The individual projects range in cost estimates from $940,000 (to improve drainage on Eastern Shore Drive) to more than $92 million (to improve drainage in the central resort district at the Oceanfront).

In an analysis from Old Dominion University, economists found the construction itself could result in an economic impact of $371.5 million and 3,300 jobs in the next decade.

However, it’s the taxpayers who will fund it all.

The city estimates that in order to repay the general obligation bonds, the city real estate tax would need to increase between 4.3 and 6.4 cents per $100 of a home’s assessed value. That would bring the city’s rate to, at most, $1.05 per $100 of a home’s assessed value, which is currently the rate of neighboring Chesapeake.

That means a homeowner could expect to pay $10 to $14 more per month or $115 to $171 per year on their real estate taxes.

This bond is the first real estate tax rate increase since 2019 in the city. This past year, the real estate tax rate was lowered.

Within three weeks of the election, the City Council will:

  1. Adopt a comprehensive financial plan to pay the referendum debt and ensure all of the extra money generated by the tax rate increase is “lock boxed” for only stormwater improvements, and future stormwater improvements.
  2. Establish a citizen oversight board that will receive monthly briefings and provide City Council with briefings every two months on the status of projects.
  3. Amend the city’s comprehensive land use plan and require the planning department to recommend any new proposed development that generates “a net increase in water discharge demand” be denied.
  4. Vote to freeze the stormwater management fee through 2028.

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The day after the election, Virginia Beach said city staff was wasting no time implementing the program =.

“Virginia Beach residents understand the importance of taking more aggressive measures now to protect our communities from the effects of recurrent flooding,” said Mayor Bobby Dyer in a press release. “Without the funding from this referendum, the completion of these projects would have taken 40 years to complete. This affirmative vote from citizens will allow the City to move forward on what is one of the most critical needs for our city.”

For more information on the program, click here.

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