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Hunting distances may double

Suffolk City Council will discuss and hold a public hearing on the coming year’s operating and capital budgets, a proposed firearms ordinance and a new child day care center during their Wednesday meeting.

The work session, which will include a budget discussion, will begin at 4 p.m. in City Council chambers, 441 Market St. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m.

The city’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes no real estate tax increase, no layoffs of or raises for city staff, no reduction of services and full funding of the school system’s budget request.

However, utility customers would pay an extra $1.62 per 100 cubic feet for water and sewer rates combined, and the full funding for the schools is dependent upon a proposed refinancing saving the city at least $1 million.

The budget totals about $459.72 million. It is available for download in PDF form from the city’s Web site, www.suffolk.va.us, and also can be viewed at the municipal building, 441 Market St., and at city libraries.

City staff closed a shortfall of about $5 million to balance the budget without raising taxes. The gap included decreases in state and federal aid, as well as in local real estate revenues, in addition to increased governmental responsibilities, such as operating newly opened buildings. Management used solutions such as refinancing debt and moving trash pickup to four days per week instead of five to save money.

Also during the meeting, Council will hear public opinion on a proposed YMCA child care center on the grounds of a former residential treatment center, 275 Kenyon Road, for public use.

At the first Planning Commission hearing on the proposed facility, several residents of a nearby neighborhood had concerns about noise, children’s safety and water runoff, prompting the planners to put off approval of the facility. The YMCA made some alterations to its plan to assuage the residents’ concerns, and then the planners approved the facility and sent it to City Council.

Additionally, citizens will have the opportunity to discuss a proposed ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms in portions of the city. The ordinance would double the required distance between hunters and densely populated areas and structures owned by others.