City to reveal budget Wednesday

Published 10:25 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

The city will release the city manager’s budget proposal in Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

The work session, where the budget will be discussed, will begin at 4 p.m. at 441 Market St. The regular meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

The city faces a number of budget challenges this year, including a drop in real estate values, funding reductions from the state and needed capital improvements. All together, the shortfalls total a gap of more than $5.1 million.

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A city financial consultant last month suggested Suffolk might have to raise its real estate tax rate to provide increased services.

The $5.1-million gap, if filled with a real estate tax increase alone, would result in a 6-cent increase per $100 of assessed value. An $11.4 million deficit could be filled with a 13.5-cent increase.

In the utility fund, too, changes are proposed to balance the budget. The average water and sewer bill would increase by about 9.34 percent, assuming usage of 13 ccf. A ccf is a measurement equal to 100 cubic feet.

The City Council is expected to vote on scheduling a public hearing for April 20 on the budget. Adoption of the budget proposal could come in May.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the City Council will consider accepting a grant from the Virginia Office of Commonwealth Preparedness to operate the U.S. Joint Forces Command Transition and Business Development Center.

The grant is an additional $25,000 in funding for the center, which will provide career counseling services to workers affected by the disestablishment of JFCOM. The city already received a grant of more than $312,000 for the same program. This will be an addition to the grant, but does not require any additional local match. The new money will be applied to leasing the space needed for the office in Bridgeway Technology Center I building in Harbour View, set to open in late April.

A hotline, 757-461-7537, has been set up for people to access services while the building is in preparation.