VIRGINIA BEACH -- Transportation and budgeting were discussed by 3 candidates for the city council - 2 seeking re-election and Wally Erb seeking one of the contested at-large seats.

Erb told the group 'the citizens had an opportunity to choose light rail in 1998 and they decisively said, 'No' and now it has come up again.

Lynnhaven Borough Councilman Jim Wood, last year's chairman of the Hampton Roads Transit Authority,  who last year said he felt the decision should be up to the members of council and not the people, said recently he has revised his thinking.  Wood is seeking re-election.

Why?  "Because of the publicly over the many troubles…," massive $110 MILLION cost over run, work behind schedule, the 'firing' of its incompetent leader, hiring of another executive at $40,000 a month, work, intersections that have to be rebuild at a cost of $100,000 each, "we have had."

He speculated Saturday there will be a referendum for beach citizens by November 2011, adding, "But I might be off a year or so."

Erb said what the council doesn't get is that 'No Means No,' but adding that "I'm not advocating for or against it, I just believe the citizens must have the opportunity to decide the direction this city goes."
He also said that bond spending - more than $300 MILLION without any citizen input will be another campaign issue.

"The charter and our city's founders said that any bonding expense over $10 MILLION, but be voted on by the people.  That hasn't been done on any of the $300 MILLION spent," Erb said.

The city is using a loophole to allow the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to circumvent the law -  an agency without transparency or accountability, and Erb said he thinks that's wrong.



Vice Mayor Louis Jones, also up for re-election, said the city faces 'dire' economic projects for next year.

The council whacked the budget by $111 MILLION this year and Jones said the city manager has projected there will be a shortfall of at least $50 MILLION next year.

Jones took pride in the fact that he said the city didn't have to resort to any layoffs, cut major programs, or raise taxes to meet this year's budget.

"And we are committed to not raising taxes next year," he said.

Asked about the fiscal flap between the schools and the council, Jones said the council was legally within its power and authority to take part of the School Board's $35 MILLION surplus to help balance the city budget.

The school's budget was 100% funded he said and nothing was lost.

School Board Member Scott Seery, asked why the school board gave up $8 MILLION to help the city build an multi-million $$$ dog house while it was  forced to raise school lunches 15-cents, said it was beyond the board's control.

He resorted to a 'shell game' accounting when asked why the board didn't transfer the monies to cover the cost of school lunch increases.  

And like Jones said, when the school board came back to the council this year to take another $15 MILLION of the its $35 MILLION surplus, the council authorized it.  

Surely the same would have happened if the school board has asked for a revision to hike the cost of school lunches.  The answers to this question turned to mumbo jumbo.