Archive for August, 2009
In an e-mail on Aug. 12 to a citizen‘s question regarding The Seven Projects, Virginia Beach Mayor Sessoms commented on two particular issues of paramount importance to all citizens: Our real estate tax and the potential new, additional tax revenue that would be necessary to fund 7 new projects.
Regarding real estate taxes: The Mayor stated in his e-mail, “The good news is that the average homeowner in Virginia Beach is paying $157 less in real estate taxes this year than last year.”
Whenever the Virginia Beach City Council publishes a dollar figure for any project, citizens of Virginia Beach should not believe the numbers. Taxpayers should finally realize that our Virginia Beach City Council never tells us the full cost of a project.
Instead of telling us the full estimated cost of a project or series of projects, council invariably picks the proverbial “lowball” construction estimate, never suggests that there might be cost overrun and never tells us the interest costs. (All projects are developed using borrowed money.) Sometimes council changes the scope of the project thereby increasing the cost significantly, but does not publicize the new costs.
Read the rest of this entry »
The Virginia Beach city Council held the 2009 workshop on August 3rd and 4th. During those conversations, council members identified seven projects that would cost approximately $95 million. Council entertained a suggestion that an increase of two cents on the real estate tax rate would generate money to pay for the debt service on the $95 million bond.
That two cents would generate approximately $11 million which is not nearly enough to pay the debt service on a $95 million bond.
State law controls the impact of increasing real estate assessments and requires city councils, including our Virginia Beach City Council, to lower the tax rate if necessary.
The law is based on the total citywide real estate assessed value. State law 58.1-3321 requires that city council must compare the total assessed value of each new year with the total value of the preceding year.
If the new assessment times the current real estate tax rate results in a tax that is more than 1% higher than the tax last year, council must, by law, calculate a lowered real estate tax rate. The new assessment times the new lowered rate must yield a new tax that is not more than 1% higher than the previous tax. Read the rest of this entry »
The principle question is: does the Virginia Beach need light rail? To answer that question many other issues must be resolved.
A basic issue concerns the projected population growth over the long-term. When will there be enough users of light rail, that is citizens, to justify the expenses of building and operating a light rail system in Virginia Beach?
For example, the population growth of Virginia Beach is practically on hold. To make matters worse, the city forecast of 2007 stated specifically that high income households were leaving Virginia Beach. Related to the population growth is the growth of employers necessitating an increase in employees. Where will the new employers come from?
In all probability, a carrier will be moved from Norfolk to Jacksonville, possibly with support ships. Questions include: How many military personnel will be moved with the ships and will there be a reduction of civilian jobs related to the ships? How many fewer cars will be on the road as a result of that reduction of Navy and civilian personnel?
How many jobs can be moved closer to where people live? The city of Seattle, Washington performed a study in the year 2002 to identify the length and time of citizens commute. Working in conjunction with local employers, together they developed a plan to relocate some workers closer to their homes to reduce commuting time and distance. Can the same be done in a Hampton Roads area?
What is the applicability telecommuting in the Hampton Roads area? Most military people in Hampton Roads area must go to their stations. But not every office worker must go to an office in downtown Norfolk. Specifically, the plans being developed for the Pembroke area in Virginia Beach could include offices so that people who live in the area can go to the office in the same area rather than have to get on a light rail to get to the same kind of office in Norfolk. Will the Pembroke area have offices available?
Will the analysis of the need for light rail include the available modeling and simulation techniques? Several theoretical models of population, employment and location relative to employees can certainly be developed to determine the demand for transportation.
0 What is the population growth?
0 Where will the employers come from?
0 How many Navy and civilian jobs will be moved?
0 How many cars will no longer be using local highways?
0 Can jobs be moved closer to where people live?
0 Will the Pembroke area redevelopment include offices?
0 What is the applicability of telecommuting to the Hampton Roads area ?
0 Will modeling/simulation techniques be used to evaluate various probabilities?
These are a few of the questions that must be addressed to even consider light rail for Virginia Beach. More to come.