HAMPTON- Hampton residents will be paying higher real estate taxes in the next fiscal year.

The City Council approved a budget of $448,602,259 for fiscal year 2014 Wednesday night, raising the property tax rate by 20 cents which was less than the 24 cents recommended last month. The year-over-year increase is 4.08%, with half of the increased revenue earmarked for schools and half for city operations.

According to a release from the city, the vote followed more than two months of spirited discussion in the city. City Manager Mary Bunting and School Superintendent Linda Shifflette led a process that included public meetings, online polling and a scientific survey.

The adopted budget reinstates some cuts the manager had earlier recommended. Old Hampton Community Center will be funded for the year, and the 311 customer service call night and weekend hours were restored.

The threatened school programs were protected, including elementary guidance counselors, registered nurses, 8-class high school schedules and the Moton Early Childhood Center. It also provides funding for some future initiatives, including city Master Plan projects and school technology upgrades that include a pilot program of tablets, such as iPads, for some students.

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