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Tensions rise over storm water

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Tensions were high in the Virginia Beach City Council chambers on Tuesday, April 25, when the issue of storm water projects were on the table for discussion.

Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen’s plan was to increase storm water fees, proposing to pay for the projects over the next 15 years, while Council members Jessica Abbott and John Moss created a counter proposal that allocated funding quicker for the same project, but slashed other projects.

Moss’s and Abbott’s proposal cuts new city developments and transfers funds to allocate all storm water funds over three years, meaning that residents would not see district improvements, including the oceanfront road improvements, that come with the deal.

Councilman-at-Large Ben Davenport then got into heated debate with Moss about the merit of the accelerated proposal and risks. Tensions will remain high with the looming May 9 budget vote fast approaching.

“This is a sequential process we can’t just accelerate it if we want,” Councilman Davenport said. “We can’t give out false hope to our residents.”

“There will come a day the HVAC system cuts out and we can’t reach it because of the asbestos in our walls and ceilings,” Manager Hansen said. “We’ll be having council sessions at the convention center with bleachers and plastic chairs, what kind of reputation would that set?”

Council came to agreement that storm water is the main concern this budget cycle. How to fund it or how many years it will take to complete is still up in the air. Council wants to get a hard factual number for Virginia Beach residents, but it may take two years to get it. With two proposals on the table the issue of storm water is not going away quickly.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Councilwomen Kane led the recovery initiative in the heavily damaged Windsor Woods community.

“We need to stop throwing out numbers that aren’t realistic so we aren’t lying to our residents,” councilwomen Kane stated. “We have to get a real number and figure out how to fund it, no point arguing about a nonexistent number yet.”

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Tensions rise over storm water