© 2024 WHRO Public Media
5200 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk VA 23508
757.889.9400 | info@whro.org
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Gloucester County rejects tax increase to fund new fire station, improvements to parks and schools

Gloucester County voters struck down a $39.5 million ballot measure to fund big capital projects. (Photo by Ryan Murphy)
Gloucester County voters struck down a $39.5 million ballot measure to fund big capital projects. (Photo by Ryan Murphy)

Voters in Gloucester County defeated a controversial bond referendum that would have slightly raised real estate taxes.

County leaders said the $39.5 million bond would pay for a brand new fire station, renovations and improvements to county parks and school buildings.

But opponents said the county has bundled several projects together to get less necessary projects through.

They’ve also contended the county should be using cash funds to handle the expense, rather than taking on debt and raising taxes. If approved, real estate taxes would have gone up about 3.4% to cover the costs of the bonds.

George Johnson showed up to Gloucester High School on Election Day specifically to cast a vote against the bond referendum. 

“It’s a waste of money,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of other things we could use that money for,” like more funding for schools.

On the other hand, retired teacher Ingrid McGee said she supported the referendum as an investment in “the future of Gloucester County, and the people who live here.”

The bond issue inflamed passions so much, a man was filmed choking the Gloucester County Attorney during a town hall meeting on the bond referendum in October. 

Lawrence Cohen, who was speaking against the bond referendum, is shown on video choking County Attorney Ted Wilmot. Cohen asked several questions when Wilmot told him to “stop bullying staff” and that he got to “ask a question, one question, and that’s it.” When Wilmot tried to take the microphone, Cohen grabbed his throat. The men were separated and nobody was injured.

Cohen was charged with assault and battery.

Ryan is WHRO’s business and growth reporter. He joined the newsroom in 2021 after eight years at local newspapers, the Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot. Ryan is a Chesapeake native and still tries to hold his breath every time he drives through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

The world changes fast.

Keep up with daily local news from WHRO. Get local news every weekday in your inbox.

Sign-up here.