I hope this email finds you well. I look back through my pictures and council agendas and realize a lot happened in June!
I am happy to share that Norfolk City Council passed a strong budget for FY 24 setting ourselves up for a successful year ahead. Highlights:
- 5% general wage increase for all general, constitutional, and nonsworrn employees
- Step increase plus a 2.5% increase for sworn Public Safety
- $10.5M increase in local contribution to Norfolk Public Schools
- $56.6M in matching funds for the Coastal Storm Risk Management project – aka – Downtown Flood Mitigation project
- $65.5M for a new Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center
- $1.5M for a one-time Norfolk retiree supplement
- $2.5M for the Norfolk Botanical Garden Capital Campaign
- $500,000 for Fred Huette Center maintenance in Ghent
- $500,000 for the initial part of a larger project to improve the shoreline at Richmond Crescent and Surrey Crescent in Larchmont
- No tax rate increases
- Increased support for outside arts agencies like the Virginia Arts Festival, Virginia Stage Company, Chrysler Museum of Art and others
One Monday afternoon in June I drove around Ward 2 with our new Norfolk Police Chief Mark Talbot. We drove, literally, all around the Ward so I could familiarize him with the area. I joked with him at the end…we just went on a 3 hour tour (yes, we drove for 3 hours) and we didn’t end up stranded on an island (Gilligan’s Island reference) and I got him home! The Chief was great to take that much time and literally drive the streets with me. He will serve as a very strong leader of the Norfolk Police Department.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Norfolk Mayor Alexander signed the Project Partnership Agreement that kicks off the funding stream to begin the project protecting our city from the 100 year storm (aka…like Katrina in New Orleans) that will someday come our way in Norfolk. The $2.6B project is funded with 65% federal funds and the city must find non-federal funds to the tune of 35% to support the project. The U.S. Government has funded $400M at the start. We need our friends in Richmond in the General Assembly to fund 50% of the 35% match as Norfolk cannot carry that fiscal burden alone. Other projects in the country have the state fund 50% of the local match required so the city is working with our delegation and state leadership to make this a reality.
Norfolk City Council voted in favor of allocating funding to purchase the MacArther Center Mall. The City needed to take control of this asset so that we can reimagine it as a continuing positive destination for our region. As you know, malls all over the country are declining and MacArthur is no exception. We were fortunate it went on the market and we prevailed as the purchasing entity.
I welcome our new Norfolk City Manager Pat Roberts. Pat has served in municipal government for most of his career and will be a strong leader at the helm. I have had the opportunity to work closely with him during his 1 – 1/2 years as a Norfolk Deputy City Manager and know we are well positioned for the future.
Enjoy the hot summer weather as it is here to stay!