The Bulletin

Virginia Beach voters approve $567 million bond referendum to deal with flooding

By: - November 2, 2021 8:27 pm

Virginia Beach, June 2021. (Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury)

Virginia Beach residents approved a referendum Tuesday that will allow the city to issue up to $567 million in bonds to cover the cost of accelerating a flood protection program designed to deal with stormwater and sea level rise problems. 

More than two-thirds of voters were in favor of the issuance, which is expected to increase real estate taxes over the next decade by 4.3 to 6.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. 

The city is among Virginia’s most hard-hit localities in terms of sea level rise, which is impacting the Hampton Roads region — home to the nation’s largest naval base and a host of military installations — faster than any other area on the East Coast. 

The 21 projects the city proposes to fund through a three-phase bond issuance were specifically identified in the referendum and cover everything from the conversion of a city-owned golf course into a park with stormwater storage to extensive storm drain improvements and road elevation to the construction of flood barriers. 

While all of the projects were expected to be carried out regardless of whether the referendum passed, the bond issuances will allow Virginia Beach to accelerate its timeline for their rollout from 20 or 25 years to 10 years. 

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Sarah Vogelsong
Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists.