Your Tax Dollar
Life in this coastal Virginia city of roughly 460,000 people is pretty good – from the miles and miles of public beaches, retail hotspots, restaurants, breweries and more, the city has a lot to offer its residents. In fact, nearly 90% of the people who call Virginia Beach home ranked their quality of life as good or excellent based on Old Dominion University’s 2021 Life in Hampton Roads survey.
Your tax dollars and the miscellaneous fees you pay support a variety of public services including trash collection, public safety and emergency services, water and sewer utilities and much more. That revenue helps pay to maintain 86 public schools, seven public recreation centers, 293 parks and park facilities and 10 public libraries, as well as the myriad community programs offered at each. It helps provide support services to Virginia Beach residents in need and ensures the health and beauty of the city overall.
Virginia Beach has received many accolades over the years for its efforts. Here are some 2021 kudos:
- SAFEST LARGE CITY
AdvisorSmith, a resource for business advice and original research, recently updated its study, and based on its research (using FBI data) identified Virginia Beach as the nation's safest large city.
- QUALITY OF LIFE
The Teal Mango, a digital platform highlighting the South Asian diaspora, ranked Virginia Beach the No. 5 best cities to live in the U.S. This ranking considered overall quality of life, including affordable living, growth opportunities, comfort and entertainment.
- BEST RUN CITY
Considering factors such as the City’s credit rating, long-term debt, the quality of schools and graduation rates, health factors, crime rates, the economy, household income, infrastructure and pollution, WalletHub also determined Virginia Beach is among the top 10 best run cities in America.
- BEST BEACH TOWN AND BOARDWALK
Virginia Beach was listed among Newsweek’s Top 25 Beach Towns in America and Reader’s Digest includes Virginia Beach among the nation’s 20 best boardwalks.
- LGBTQ+ OWNERSHIP
Realtor.com ranked Virginia Beach among the top three places for the LGBTQ+ community to buy a home.
- RETIRE IN STYLE
SmartAsset, a consumer financial information site, listed Virginia Beach among the top 10 retirement locations for military retirees.
Get to know the City’s annual budget
A good way to see your tax dollars at work is to follow the City’s annual budgeting process. You can find this year’s budget as well as previous years’ budgets online. In addition, the following tools help bring your tax dollars to life:
Balancing Act is an interactive tool that residents can use to explore the budgetary process and make suggestions to the City Council. Increase or decrease the amount spent and where and adjust the amount of money coming in from various sources - including the tax rate - all while keeping an eye on whether your changes throw the budget into a deficit or surplus. You can submit your results, provided your budget is balanced, as well as save your progress and share it with others.
With Taxpayer Receipt, you can see an estimate of how much you pay in City taxes and what you get for your money. Just anonymously enter your age, income, and the value of your home and car. The tool calculates taxes on real estate and personal property, and estimates taxes on restaurant meals and sales based on age and income. Note: It does not include fees for water, sewer, trash and stormwater.
A city’s budget lays out a plan of expected incomes and expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year. According to the National League of Cities, a city budget weighs policy priorities against available public resources; specifies the ways and means of providing public programs and services; establishes the cost of programs and the criteria by which these programs will be evaluated for efficiency and effectiveness; ensures that the programs will be evaluated at least once; redistributes income; provides the government with a spending limitation; and provides transparency by which the government may be held accountable.
By state law, cities must operate under a balanced budget. The City of Virginia Beach maintains an AAA bond rating through its conservative fiscal policies and maintains a minimum General Fund balance between 8% to 12% of the following year’s estimated revenues.
Virginia Beach’s City Charter requires the City Council to adopt an annual budget. The City’s fiscal year spans from July 1 to June 30, with a year-round planning process that includes departmental budget submissions and review, City Council goal setting and workshops, and public input.
The city manager prepares the annual budget based on the Council’s priorities and presents his recommendations to City Council around mid-March. This proposed budget includes the Operating Budget as well as the six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The proposed budget provides a summary of city revenue and expenses and typically includes recommendations related to city fees and tax rate adjustments, city employee compensation and benefits, and various city project needs.
Public meetings are typically held in April for residents to weigh in on the proposed budget and it is usually approved in May. The changes go into effect July 1. The City’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 and six-year CIP can be found online.