Budget adopted

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Suffolk City Council on Wednesday passed a budget that topped $459.72 million.

The budget includes no real estate tax increase, layoffs or furloughs for city staff. It also includes full funding of the Suffolk Public Schools request.

However, the budget sliced in half the requested funding for the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad, which could threaten the organization’s continued existence.

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“We’re not sure exactly what the next step is,” volunteer rescue squad Chief George Willman IV said after the meeting. “We didn’t come 50 years not to make it to 51.”

Volunteer Rusty Hundley said at last month’s public hearing on the budget that receiving only half the organization’s request could be devastating to the squad.

“The manager’s recommendation threatens the very viability of our organization,” Hundley said.

Willman and President Melvin Smith said Wednesday that the squad will likely be appealing to the community for additional help.

“We hope the public will get behind us,” Willman said.

City Council members expressed approval of the budget following a unanimous vote to adopt it.

“I’m very impressed with this budget,” Councilman Charles Brown said. “I’m impressed with such a difficult year, [that we] accomplished all this.”

Councilmen Charles Parr and Jeffrey Gardy expressed confidence that stronger budget years are on the horizon.

“I hope the economy will improve,” Gardy said.

Parr echoed Gardy, calling the budget a “fine document.”

“I know we’re going to have better years,” Gardy said.

City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn said she is excited the budget is passed, and is already ramping up for next year. She said she would have liked to provide more personnel and equipment for public safety if more money had been available.

“I still think public safety is important,” Cuffee-Glenn said.

Also in the budget is a hike in utility rates, which will have water and sewer customers paying an extra $1.62 per 100 cubic feet for the two utilities combined.

The city closed a $5 million gap in the budget by refinancing debt, moving trash pickup to four days per week instead of five, deferring capital projects, and freezing vacant positions and “non-critical” employee benefits like tuition reimbursement and take-home vehicles.

To view the adopted budget, visit www.suffolk.va.us.