Archived Story

Your cost: $3,299

Published 10:02pm Tuesday, April 30, 2013

City operations and maintenance cost each man, woman and child in Suffolk $3,299 in the current fiscal year, according to numbers compiled by the state auditor of public accounts.

About half of that bill went toward education, with a substantial amount spent on public safety. Other costs in the per-capita numbers reported by the state office include general government, judicial administration, public works, health and welfare, parks and recreation and community development. The total does not include special funds like utilities, grants and others, so it does not reflect the total budget for the city.

As City Council prepares to adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year in Wednesday night’s meeting, members will take stock of how much city services are costing taxpayers.

The amount Suffolk spends on operations and maintenance has actually fallen about $2 million from 2010 to 2012. As a result of that decrease and its rising population, per-capita spending has fallen as well.

In Hampton Roads, Suffolk’s per-capita spending was the second-lowest this year, bested only by Virginia Beach. Among all Virginia cities, its per-capita spending was in the bottom third, although the local revenue per capita was in the top half.

City Budget and Strategic Planning Director Anne Seward said the numbers speak well for the city.

“It says that our local taxation is the median of all cities (reasonable taxation) and our spending per capita is at the bottom (highly efficient employee base especially when we look at the land mass comparison) she wrote in an emailed response to questions. “The operations and maintenance has been where we have been most successful in implementing efficiencies citywide over the past few years,” in areas like fuel, vehicles, utility use and slim staffing, she added.

Of the $3,299 bill, about $1,657 is spent on education. Public safety accounts for $626, and public works for $363, according to the state’s figures.

City Council is expected to adopt a $513 million budget Wednesday night that would raise the tax rate by 6 cents to $1.03 per $100 of assessed value. Half that money will provide $3 million above last year’s funding level to Suffolk Public Schools, although the school system had sought a $9-million budget increase. The other three cents would offset a drop in real estate values.

  • Education — $1,657
  • Public safety — $626
  • Public works — $363
  • Health and welfare — $290
  • General government — $113
  • Parks and recreation — $86
  • Judicial administration — $83
  • Community development — $79

Amount due: $3,299

Numbers were rounded to the nearest dollar.

  • jhuxster

    Actually this underestimates the real cost of city government. It only includes the operating budget but not the capital budget. Figure in that and the cost of government per taxpayer in the city is much nearer to $7,000 annually than $3,200 annually. City government is not a bargain by any stretch–too much waste, too much foolishness, and far too little common sense. But we can rejoice, in three years we’ll have a $50 million city hall to adorn our landscapes (I know it’s budgeted at $37 million but I also know our city leaders–by the time it’s done it will probably be closer to $60 million than $50 million but we can hope).

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  • aprint4life

    It’s not the residents’ fault that real estate values decreased, perhaps Maria Kattman had the assessments way too high several years ago and out of line with the market…

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  • Lovebug

    Wow I may have to start looking for a way to tap into my own water source. Can’t afford a new vehicle pmt because I have one in my water bill. My real estate tax is already mind blowing as well as my mortgage pmt everytime the taxes go up. Who can afford anything with everything going up the way it is? Seems like I work for nothing anymore.

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  • hambone

    Good book keeping.

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