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* Hampton City News

Posted on: April 14, 2021

City manager provides advance look at key proposals in recommended FY22 budget

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April 14, 2021 - City Manager Mary Bunting Wednesday shared a look at key budget proposals for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1. It keeps the property and car tax rates flat, but adds to the stormwater fee for flooding prevention and pollution control and increases the wastewater fee for maintenance.

While the proposed $530,279,092 is an increase of only 2.6%, it will actually accomplish many of the citizen's and Council’s top priorities. overall. That’s largely because many of those projects were technically in the current budget (fiscal year 2021) but frozen due to the risk of revenue loss from the pandemic.

That $530 million is almost evenly split between city operations (42.8%) and school operations (44.6%), with an additional 6.6% for debt payments for city and school capital projects. Transfers – some internally to capital projects and some which the City collects on behalf of other entities – account for the remaining 5%.

Key areas of investment held over from the proposed FY21 budget, noted Bunting, "include competitive compensation for our workforce, as well as additional investments in public safety, education, family resilience and economic empowerment, placemaking, economic growth, and coastal resiliency. Taken together, those priorities are designed to create a stronger city that addresses our physical challenges (flooding, blight, and older housing); creates a stronger tax and employment base (company investments, higher-wage jobs, tourism) to fund services and facilities; ensures safety and security; provides education that uplifts us at all ages; strengthens families and neighborhoods; grows economic opportunities and independence; and builds on our 400-year-old heritage and waterfront location as a place filled with art, music, food, recreation, and diversity."

Home assessments increased, with the majority of homeowners seeing increases of 5% or less. However, 3.5% of homeowners saw bumps of more than 20%. If the rate is held stable, the median homeowner would pay $10.44 per month more.

Bunting noted that the increases in revenues from the increased home assessments are offset by other revenue declines, with the city seeing a 6% drop in revenue due to decreases in commercial assessments, meals taxes, hotel taxes, amusement taxes, interest income, and more. 

Even with that, Bunting noted that she likely would be recommending a tax rate reduction if it were not for a provision in the new round of federal funding for Covid relief, called the American Rescue Plan. The federal money comes with a clause saying that states and territories may not use it to reduce tax rates. Typically, those kinds of provisions extend to cities, she noted, and she did not want to propose a tax rate reduction that could potentially endanger those funds, which could bring the city $51 million over the next two years.

Key items in the budget proposal include: 

  • Salary increases commensurate with other localities’ increases to provide a competitive wage for our dedicated and hard-working employees; in addition, this budget will add targeted salary adjustments in specific jobs where we have fallen behind the market, will make compression adjustments, and will  implement the state's new minimum wage rate of $11 per hour.
  • Recurring and one-time increases for our Hampton City Schools, which will facilitate teacher and employee raises, as well as pay scale adjustments, and support their transformational College and Career Academy program.
  • Increases to fight crime, including new positions for the Police Division and additional funds for enhanced public-safety street lighting and surveillance systems.
  • Investments in our housing stock.
  • Investments in flood mitigation and prevention efforts.
  • Investments in our Family Resilience and Economic Empowerment initiatives , such as the youth employment program and workforce development. In the long run, these measures are also designed to get at the roots of some of our youth violence by providing job training and other skills to our young people.

The full Manager’s Recommended Budget will be released on Thursday, April 15, at www.hampton.gov/budget.

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