The Kempsville Library is Open!

This afternoon in my remarks for the Re-Opening of the Kempsville library, I quoted the book “What Do You Do with an Idea?” by Kobi Yamada. The book begins with:

“One day I had an idea. Where did it come from? Why is it here? I wondered, “What do you do with an idea?”

Ribbon cutting for the re-opening of the Kempsville Library

For me our libraries represents the tactile version of an idea. We are literally inside a building holding millions and millions of ideas, from people of all backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and places.

The book goes on to tell to us the reader that our ideas will not always be well received, that not everyone will understand or appreciate them. And through that process we might feel tempted to give up on our idea. And libraries represent that in a lot of ways too. Not every book you see in this library will be read every day or even every week, but still a person penned their thoughts and put it out for the world to find. Amazing, unique ideas waiting to be discovered.

The author encourages us to protect our idea and nourish our idea. And your idea will grow, as will your love for it.

Which is what we must do for libraries, we as a community must love and nourish our buildings that contain our ideas. We must think big and then think bigger, we must use these walls as an incubator for innovation, for change, and for personal and community growth.

“Because it is good to have the ability to see things differently”

The book concludes with this final message:

“Then one day, something amazing happened. My idea changed right before my very eyes. It spread its wings, took flight, and burst into the sky.

I don’t know how to describe it, but it went from being here to being everywhere. It wasn’t just a part of me anymore… it was now a part of everything.

And then, I realized what you do with an idea…

You change the world.”

A Morning for Remembrance

Today I attended the Morning for Remembrance service. We heard from the families of the victims and even a survivor of the May 31 shooting. The service was serene and allowed the families, city employees, and community to grieve and celebrate the life of those who are no longer with us. Words from Rev. Cox have been on my mind all day: “We are here because they lived”.

I wanted to take a moment and thank those responsible for organizing the service, but also thank our stellar Honor Guard who has been a part of the lives of those impacted since that terrible day. Battalion Chief Lorna Trent and Lieutenant Scott Humphrey have done an amazing job of being advocates for our mourning families. We are truly blessed to have their service and I am grateful for having the opportunity to know them.

We lost amazing people from our community. To quote another family member who shared their thoughts with us: “We all have to be a little bit better because they’re gone.” And from how I’ve seen our community unite and be #vbstrong, I’d say we are.

The People’s Budget FY 19-20

FY 2019-20 Proposed ExecSummary WEB

Virginia Beach Call to ActionWhen Councilman Moss and I collaborated again this spring in creating an alternative budget to what our City Manager has given to Council, our priorities have remained steadfast as they did in last year’s budget cycle. Our priorities are:

  • The people of Virginia Beach have the first right to the wages their family has earned;

  • The quality of life of the people of Virginia Beach should not be diminished in favor of the seemingly insatiable urge of our representatives to spend frivolously on projects that do not enhance the livability of our community;

  • The long-term sustainability and livability of the people of Virginia Beach is an utmost consideration and we must take the necessary steps to strengthen the long-term resiliency of our Community for a Lifetime;

  • The ‘needs’ of the people of Virginia Beach must be budgeted before the ‘wants’ of councilmembers

The need for our colleagues on City Council to adopt our People’s Budget is simple: we, as a body, must create a budget that mirrors the economic realities faced by several thousands of our constituents. 44% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch; the percentage of our community that is labeled as being in poverty has grown over the last decade to 8%; more than half (51.5%) of renters in Virginia Beach spend more than 30% of their income on rent – which has increased over the last decade – which means more residents are financially stressed; our regional GDP growth rate is at 1.8%, which is lower than the national average of 2.3%, and the City Manager’s proposed budget outpaces our regional economic growth. Therefore, any tax or fee increase is inherently regressive and disproportionately affects economically disadvantaged residents. Additionally, city spending that outpaces regional economic growth is not sustainable.

Our priorities in the creation of the People’s Budget were simple:

  • No increase in real estate tax

  • No increase in stormwater management fee

  • No increase in trash fee

  • Public Safety pay compression

  • Increase investment in drainage maintenance

  • Increase available debt capacity for flood mitigation projects

Collectively, Councilman Moss and I had to find $14.47 million in the City Manager’s proposed budget to cut in order to offset proposed tax and fee increases. I’m proud to say that we accomplished what we set out to do for the People’s Budget!

  • $14,888,396 of recurring expenditure offsets reapplied

  • $4,320,325 of one-time expenditure offsets reapplied

  • $45,695,250 of funded debt capacity realigned to accelerate implementation of flood mitigation projects

  • $30,750,000 of debt capacity reserved for future investment in flood mitigation projects

How did we adjust the City Manager’s proposed budget in order to accomplish our goals for the people of Virginia Beach and offset more than $14.47 million in increases?

  • Adjustment of TIP funding formula to reduce amusement tax contribution from 10-percent to 5-percent = $3,509,689

  • Realignment of 10 FTEs back to the TAP Funding = $885,457

  • Reduction of General Fund new vehicle procurement by twenty percent = $1,071,502 ($4,286,738 remains available)

  • Elimination of 53.47 new City FTEs = estimated $3,475,550 (City Manager will have to prioritize his proposed new positions relative to vacancies existing at current adopted budget authorized FTEs)

  • Adjustments to Other Departments = $3,746,089

  • Lapse Rate and other Labor efficiencies = $2,200,109

  • Eliminate new “Strategic Initiatives” budget line item (which had no justification in departmental narrative) = $2,500,000

  • Hold City Manager’s office to FY 18-19 levels (offset = $200,594)

  • Hold total expenditures of Human Resources department at FY 18-19 levels (offset = $159,948)

  • Reduce 19.82% increase over current budget for Information Technology by half (offset = $266,404)

  • Hold total expenditures at current budget for Municipal Council to FY 18-19 levels (offset = $79,088 and eliminates growth of 13.5 percent)

  • Hold the budget line item “Computer Replacement Program” to FY 18-19 levels (offset = $469,647 and eliminates 3.9% increase)

  • Eliminate contribution to Hampton Roads Chamber (offset = $10,000) due to the group’s active involvement in influencing our local elections

  • Realign 10 positions transferred to the unrestricted General Fund in May 2017 back to the TAP fund for an increase in the General Fund of $885,457 (recurring revenue)

  • Parks and Recreation: reduce Pay-as-You-Go General Fund growth of 100 percent to 50 percent growth (offset = $450,567)

  • Information Technology: the FY 20 programmed funding in the FY 18-19 CIP was $17,843,657. The FY 20 programmed funding in the FY 19-20 CIP was $20,697,771. The overall FY 20 growth in the FY 19-20 CIP over the FY 18-19 CIP was $3,869,668, or 21.68%, so reinstate the FY 18-19 CIP amount for FY 20 as the amount for FY 20 in the FY 19-20 CIP (offset = $3,867,668)

  • Realign 50% of amusement tax revenues to the General Fund (which equates to $3,509,689 of recurring revenues and offset for the $3,509,689 in TIP Revenues)

  • Eliminate CIP for Dome Site Entertainment Venue ($28,500,000)

  • Defer the start of CIP # 9039000 [17th Street Improvement Phase 1] until FY 23 ($2,000,000 in FY 20, $6,500,000 in FY 21 and $17,500,000 in FY 22)

  • Defer the start of CIP # 9063000 [17th Street Improvement] until FY 23 ($250,000 in FY 20, $1,000,000 in FY 21 and $1,000,000 in FY 22)

  • Released TIP Dollars for Reallocation $5,394,418 within TIP for Pay-As-You and limit contingency funding to 6% for the following CIP projects in FY 20

    • CIP Project P9100000 [19th Street Improvements] -$540,386

    • CIP Project P9065000 [Dome Site Parking] – $2,089,800

    • CIP Project P9050000 [Dome Site Street Scapes] – $743,000

    • CIP Project P9096000 [Oceanfront Capital Projects Reinvestment] -$787,832

    • CIP Project P9006000 [Winston Salem Avenue Improvements] -$783,400

  • Recommend new CIP Project Atlantic Ave Refurbishment in FY 20 with $5,394,418 (Pay-As-You-Go)

  • And finally, to increase funded debt capacity for flooding, defer CIP Project #3072000 City Hall Replacement to FY 26 (outside the six-year) by realigning the authorized bonds in the FY 18-19 in the amount of $50,250,000 less estimated expenditures of $4,304,750 (design) and $250,000 (study only). This provides $45,695,250 of funded bonds to accelerate implementation of flood mitigation projects

Last year, we held strong and the people of Virginia Beach were able to keep more of what they earn. This year, we can repeat our success – but only if you contact your representatives on Council. You can email us at CityCouncil@vbgov.com. Tell them you support The People’s Budget!

2018 Virginia Beach City Council Endorsements

Endorsement Palm Card Front

Virginia Beach is a great place to call home, but we need a better direction moving forward. The upcoming election is crucial to determining the direction of our city: we need to let our voice be heard loud and clear.

I urge Beach residents who also want better government to join me in supporting these candidates who have earned my trust and my support:

Bobby Dyer – Mayor

I support my colleague Bobby Dyer for Mayor of Virginia Beach! It’s been a privilege serving with Bobby and he truly cares about this great city and all of its citizens. Bobby co-sponsored our recent alternate budget proposal that prioritized funding a better solution to fixing flooding and public safety pay compression – with no tax or fee increases. He listens to the people of Virginia Beach and will continue serving our city with honor. He is far and away our best choice for Mayor and it is very important that we support his campaign. Please like and share his page and request a yard sign!

John Moss – At-Large

I support my colleague John Moss for one of the At-large seats on City Council! It’s been such a privilege serving with John. He is a wealth of knowledge and an unwavering source of virtue. His mayoral campaign in 2008 was the first campaign my now-husband and I worked on right out of high school and I’ve been a supporter of his ever since. It’s been such a rich learning experience serving with an advocate for the great people of Virginia Beach. His ability to inform the voters of Virginia Beach is unparalleled and in two short years I have learned so much from his experience. It is very important that we support his campaign. Please like and share his page and request a yard sign!

Aaron Rouse – At-Large

I support Aaron Rouse for one of the At-large seats! Aaron understands servant leadership and will be a great representative for understanding the needs of the people. Aaron will stand up for economic fairness, job growth, public safety, education and better solutions to fixing flooding. Please like and share his page and request a yard sign!

Louis Jones – Bayside

I support Louis Jones for the Bayside seat! The Bayside District and the Kempsville District are neighbors and a great working relationship is integral to not only the success of these two parts of the city, but also to City Council. Louis has gone out of his way to offer support to me in my first term. He is sincere in his love for the city and I admire his willingness to serve the great people of Virginia Beach.

Eric Wray – Centerville

I support Eric Wray for the Centerville seat! I’ve personally known Eric for many years and he will be an excellent addition to City Council. Eric will be a dedicated public servant committed to transparency and representing our priorities on Council. He is a small business owner and understands the obstacles facing our community and will promote job growth, public safety and flooding mitigation. Please like and share his page and request a yard sign!

Tim Worst – Princess Anne

I support Tim Worst for the Princess Anne seat! It’s important for City Council to reflect the needs of its citizens, and Tim is a down-to-earth person who will bring a sense of understanding the needs of regular people in Virginia Beach. Tim will be a solid supporter of a level economic playing field, public safety, education, job growth and funding better flooding solutions. Please like and share his page and request a yard sign!