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Council to hold public hearing on budget

Suffolk City Council will hold a public hearing on next year’s budget during its virtual emergency meeting Wednesday.

The public hearing will take place at the 2 p.m. meeting, with those wanting to comment asked to submit written comments by email to 2021budget@suffolkva.us or by regular mail to Attention: Budget Division, City of Suffolk, P.O. Box. 1858, Suffolk, VA 23439. Residents must provide their name and address with their written comments.

Emails or written comments received prior to the start of the public hearing will be included in the official public hearing record, while all comments the city receives will be provided to council.

City Manager Patrick Roberts earlier this month unveiled a $651.3 million budget that keeps the real estate tax level at $1.11 per $100 of assessed value, with general fund revenue projected to increase by $6 million to $225 million for the next fiscal year. The current overall budget is $639.4 million. The city reduced its revenue estimates by about $5 million.

With the budget calling for increases in water, sewer and refuse fees, and in other areas, several councilmembers have urged caution.

Money that comes from meals and sales taxes are expected to drop, with the city projecting a $750,000 loss in local revenue from $45.85 million to $45.1 million that is proposed in the next fiscal year’s budget.

The proposed budget also provides Suffolk Public Schools with $62.3 million, $1.5 million more than last year, but less than the $64.8 million the school division has requested.

Roberts said previously that the city has made the assumption that a number of businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be able to return to a semblance of normal operation as early as the second quarter of the upcoming fiscal year, and that any reduction in revenue would occur in the first few months of the upcoming fiscal year.

A copy of the proposed budget is available on the city website and can also be viewed, by appointment, at City Hall. Anyone with questions about the budget can email the city or call 514-4016.