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Chesapeake City Council votes to increase meals tax, remove curbside recycling

Council members also made hourly wages of at least $15 for general city workers. Public safety employees also received reassurance on promised pay raises.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — People who eat out in Chesapeake will spend a little more for each meal, starting July 1. 

The majority of city council approved increasing the meals tax from 5.5% to 6%. Comparatively, Chesapeake charges among the least for meals tax of all the seven cities. 

"If you're putting it up to 6 and Virginia Beach has 5.5 – in Greenbrier, we're going over to Virginia Beach,” said taxpayer Vic Nicholls.

Council members also voted to increase licensing fees for a regular passenger car from $23 to $26. The hike for this rate varies per vehicle. 

Combining measures to raise meals tax and vehicle licensing fees, city leaders project several million dollars of extra revenue.

"I think there should be another way,” said resident Marcia Brown. “We've got enough problems, financial problems."

"This is intended to pay for ongoing operational expenditures, like public safety pay plans and other things,” said Chesapeake City Manager Chris Price. “So, while they are one-year decisions, they have ongoing operational impacts."

City leaders included public safety employee pay raises in a step plan that took effect on January 7. 

"I do think, overall, that'd be in the betterment of their career,” said resident and taxpayer Shea Trosper.

Council members voted, in part, to make an hourly wage of at least $15 for non-public safety or general city employees.

"The simple fact is, right now, we're looking at a cloudy economic crystal ball,” said Susan Vitale, a member of Chesapeake City Council.

Council offered some relief through a real estate tax credit of four cents per $100 assessed value.

However, some people inside chambers felt defeat, when Vice Mayor John de Triquet's motion to save curbside recycling failed.

City leaders anticipate a savings of $2 million to cancel it. Money would move to alleviate staffing shortages.

Leaders with advocacy group Chesapeake Recycles collected nearly 7,000 signatures in hopes to keep the city's curbside recycling.

"Recycling is just a component of what we do to be good steward in our community, so you'll continue to hear our voices,” said Lacy Shirey with Chesapeake Recycles.

The city-run curbside recycling program officially ends in June. Homeowners in Chesapeake can either subscribe to a private service, drop off items at designated locations or throw everything away.