On August 5, Linwood Branch, Chair of the Chamber’s Virginia Beach Division and Virginia Beach Roundtable member, sent a letter on behalf of the Virginia Beach Roundtable to Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms. The Virginia Beach Roundtable is comprised of members of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Central Business District Association, Hampton Roads Association of Commercial Real Estate, Hampton Roads Realtors Association, Virginia Beach Hotel/Motel Association, Retail Alliance, Tidewater Builders Association and Virginia Beach Vision.
The letter presented the mayor with the business community’s perspective on the priorities on which, “we think the City Council of Virginia Beach should focus in the coming year.” In addition, Branch explained that the Roundtable had identified several priorities that they firmly believe should be included in Virginia Beach’s State legislative priorities for 2012.
The 2011-2012 Virginia Beach Roundtable prioritization results are:
Local Initiative – Virginia Beach City Council
1. Convention Center Hotel/Resort Entertainment Complex Development.
2. Public/Private Partnerships to enhance economic prosperity and public investment in infrastructure.
3. SGA Parking Development.
Top priorities identified for inclusion in the State Legislative Package for 2012
1. Long term sustainable revenue source for transportation.
2. Defined contribution plan in lieu of defined benefit plan/enabling legislation to require local option to modify retirement service and age qualification.
3. Operational funds secured for passenger rail and state funding for Appomattox rail bridge replacement.
4. Tax reform – elimination of Merchants Capital Tax, BPOL and Machinery and Tools Tax throughout the Commonwealth contingent upon a replacement source of revenue sufficient to maintain local revenue at current levels. (example – sales tax reform)
These priorities were developed in an inclusive process that involved several meetings, as well as online polling of the leadership from the participating entities. Branch stated, “We believe that the results are truly representative of the broad-based business interests in Virginia Beach.”