City Council

Posted on: December 14, 2017

Council discusses spending priorities, audit report, dance school expansion

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Dec. 14, 2017 - City Council met all day on Wednesday, spending the morning discussing strategic priorities - big-ticket items that will likely require bond financing.

These are projects in addition to the traditional five-year capital projects. An analysis of that spending showed that most of the money went to citizen services and infrastructure. Council members agreed to devote 75% of the additional money to economic development – projects that are designed to increase the tax base and generate money that can go to the city’s annual needs.

Depending on the amount of growth Council members are comfortable with, the city could have about $74 million to devote to key projects on top of the $75 million ($15 million per year) it plans to spend on traditional needs. Projects discussed at the morning meeting included:

  • An aquatics center that would meet two goals: Serving residents of all ages, as well as high school and area swim teams; and also be a regional draw for competitive swim meets that would bring weekend tournaments to town and generate tourism revenue, similar to the successful Boo Williams Sportsplex. Several options for trimming both the size of the facility and annual operating costs were presented.
  • Development in Bright’s Creek, the area between downtown and Interstate 64.
  • Repair work or a bigger renovation of the Buckroe Beach boardwalk and park area.
  • A replacement for the aging Social Services building.
  • Renovation of the Public Works yard.
  • The Downtown Seafood Initiative. Hampton has committed $1.5 million towards infrastructure for a new and expanded Virginia Tech Seafood Center and asked the state to help fund the project.  
  • Improvements to War Memorial Stadium, which are now more costly than projected.

Council agreed to keep moving forward on the aquatics center, but is expected to take up details of that and other spending next month.

At the afternoon work session, Council heard from outside auditor Cherry Bekaert, which offered an unmodified or “clean” report on the city’s finances.

Finance Director Karl Daughtrey noted that in fiscal year 2017, the city managed to both make more money than expected and spend less money than expected, giving the city’s fund balance a boost.

Chief among the good news: The city collected more property tax than expected due to new construction completed during the year. Meals tax revenue also continued to increase, said Daughtrey, although it appears the pace of growth may be slowing. In other action Wednesday, Council:

  • Recognized six high school students who designed this year’s city holiday cards (see newsflash photo): Mohammad Issa, Hampton; Phoebe Bills, Kecoughtan; Diana McDavis, Phoebus; Victoria Morgan, Bethel; Haley Ullery, Bethel; and Noah Price, Kecoughtan.
  • Adjusted the zoning rules to allow business and dance schools in more areas while still requiring a use permit. And then granted a use permit to David Riddick to allow his Beauty for Ashes dance school to expand from downtown to the Central United Methodist Church building at 227 Chapel Street.
  • Approved a rezoning that will allow Tysinger to store vehicles on almost 10 acres between Butler Farm and Tarrant roads. While the land was zoned for residential development, the Community Plan had recommended business and industrial uses for most of the parcel due to jet noise from Langley Air Force Base.
  • Agreed to lease a portion of Carousel Park to the Downtown Hampton Development Partnership. The business group plans to add an urban beach area and a dog activity area, and the area will remain open to the public.
  • Allowed a vehicle storage lot at 1619 W. Pembroke Ave.
  • Accepted the donation of about 72 acres adjacent to Grundland Creek Park from the Tsakis family.
  • Received an initial report on the city’s resilience efforts. Following up on the city’s participation in a regional study called Dutch Dialogs Virginia: Life at Sea Level, the long-term effort will consider the best ways for the city to learn to live with and maximize the value of its water, even as rising sea level and sinking land are expected to increase instances and severity of flooding.
  • Heard about coyotes spotted in the city and learned that Animal Control is not authorized to trap them. Coyotes have been in the area for years, but are more visible at various times. They feed on rodents primarily but will also eat garbage and small pets left outside unattended. More information can be found at Hampton.gov/animalcontrol

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