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'It's worth it' | Flood mitigation referendum passes in Virginia Beach

The program will cost $567.5 million, and will work to speed up flooding mitigation efforts.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach residents have voted in favor of a flood protection referendum in the city.

During this year's statewide elections, residents voted to adopt a $567.5 million policy that would speed up flooding mitigation efforts in the area.

ELECTION RESULTS: Click here for results of Virginia and North Carolina elections

"This amount is intended to accelerate the projects that are listed in a 10-year program that otherwise would take 40 years," said Virginia Beach Deputy City Manager Ron Williams.

Residents will see an increased property tax, with that money going towards 21 different projects in six of the most vulnerable areas of Virginia Beach. 

That includes projects in the following areas: Central Beach District, Eastern Shore Drive, Southern Watershed, Chubb Lake and Lake Bradford area, Windsor Woods and Princess Anne Plaza, Linkhorn Bay Drainage Basin. 

Mayor Bobby Dyer said, “Virginia Beach residents understand the importance of taking more aggressive measures now to protect our communities from the effects of recurrent flooding."

“Without the funding from this referendum, the completion of these projects would have taken 40 years to complete. This affirmative vote from citizens will allow the City to move forward on what is one of the most critical needs for our city," Dyer added.

The projects are meant to improve drainage, infrastructure, and marsh conditions. 

“I see it as an issue for all of us, we can’t just magically snap our fingers and raise the land ten feet," Bill Mellen said, a Virginia Beach resident living in the Cape Story by the Sea neighborhood, just one of the areas that would see direct investment into drainage issues. 

“I think it’s worth it. I’m not an extremely wealthy person by any chance but it’s certainly worth our collective effort to protect our city," Mellen said, who voted in favor of the referendum on Tuesday.

According to the Virginia Department of Elections website, 73% of voters voted in favor of the referendum while 27% were against it. 

In an interview with 13News Now, Dyer called the number a 'pleasant surprise.'

“I thought it might be a little nip and tuck asking people to spend a little more of their hard-earned money. But I see this as a vote of confidence," Dyer said.

Prior to the election, city leaders held flood program information sessions so residents could ask questions and learn more about the projects. The sessions also gave the city the opportunity to share findings from an Old Dominion University economics report. 

"The analysis suggests that for every dollar you invest, you avoid approximately $13 in damages and $19 in total damages to the economy of Virginia Beach," said Dr. Bob McNab, a professor of economics at ODU. 

A city official said the tax would 'most likely' start in conjunction with the next budget cycle, July 1 of 2022. 

For information on the program, click here.

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