F.C. Council Adopts Budget Guidance Based on 3.2% Growth Projection

December 10, 2012 10:22 PM3 comments

Based on data projections presented earlier this month, the Falls Church City Council voted tonight to adopt a resolution spelling out guidance to City Manager Wyatt Shields going into the shaping of the next fiscal year budget. The key component of the guidance is that all new revenue must come from new economic development alone, and that is projected to be limited to a net 3.2 percent growth number. “Increases in revenues for expenses can be generated solely by economic growth,” the policy states.

The policy does not speak to revenue growth coming from appreciation of residential real estate values over the last 12 months. Therefore, the policy limiting new expenditures to 3.2 percent projected revenue growth is expected to come into a sharp confrontation with anticipated needs of the Falls Church school system, experiencing more record enrollment growth and likely to require more like a nine percent increase in funding.

Falls Church’s public information office issued the following statement at the conclusion of tonight’s meeting, which is published in full here:

“At the Dec. 10 meeting, the Falls Church City Council approved budget guidance for the City Manager for the development of the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) budget which continues to place the City on sound, sustainable financial footing. ‘Even in continued tight financial times, the City Council is committed to providing valuable core services that promote public safety and high quality of life,’ said Mayor Nader Baroukh. ‘The adopted resolution provides guidance to the City Manager for development of the budget. This creates a framework for productive discussion by the community.’

“The resolution adopted by Council includes staff’s revenue forecast of 3.2 percent and provides that any increases in revenues for expenses be generated solely by economic growth. The guidance includes direction for a focus on infrastructure maintenance and improvements and a capital improvements plan for meeting the City’s critical needs.

“Council acknowledged the critical role employees play in the provision of quality programs and services to residents and businesses. The budget guidance provides a level of employee compensation that is competitive within the regional labor market and sustainable over the long-term.

“The guidance also notes that the City Manager is to provide Council with options for dedicated funding for storm water system capital improvements and identify current and potential future financial risks to the City stemming from state decisions regarding the Virginia Retirement System.

“The schedule of budget meetings and public hearings will be posted by the end of December on the City website www.fallschurchva.gov/Budget. The City Manager will present a proposed budget for FY14 to the City Council on March 11, and the Council is scheduled to adopt the budget on April 22, 2013.”

  • jimbledsoe

    And now the gauntlet is drawn. I look forward to Susan Kearney’s annual ‘Five
    Pillars of Excellence’ and the need to keep up with Fairfax County. Maybe this
    year Susan and the School Board will actually quantify what a ‘world class’ education
    will actually cost the taxpayers of Falls Church. I know that will never
    happen, given their recent inability to justify taxpayer’s investment in lap tops
    and IPADs.

  • http://twitter.com/GregRasnake greg rasnake

    I appreciate your comments because I too believe this is a debate we need to have. As I stated previously, this is a “gut check” moment for our Little City. Are we willing as a community to make the investment necessary to maintain and expand the first rate performance and reputation of our world class school system? With the fine leadership of Assistant Superintendent Hunter Kimble and others – our schools have navigated and survived the City’s budget woes and decreasing per pupil investment of the past several years. But to believe that Dr. Toni Jones and our fine faculty and staff can continue to “boot-strap” our schools to greatness is quite frankly – a recipe for disaster. The historic increase in year over year enrollment is putting ever increasing pressure on our faculty, staff, and facilities. I for one look forward to our budget deliberation this year. I know I’m not alone in my sentiment that we intend to ask for what we need; no more, but certainly no less. And while I certainly don’t speak for my colleagues, I know in my heart that they share in my belief that investing in our children’s future is an investment in our own.

  • FallsChurchCitizen

    I look forward to these discussions, as well. If I may, I’d like to throw out a couple of suggestions. If we’re going to do things like put up 300 apartments on top of a new grocery store, then our already-overcrowded facilities need to be addressed. TJ is being expanded now, but I also propose that it’s time for the City to implement plans to build new schools to replace both Mt. Daniel Elementary and George Mason High School. Mt. Daniel’s ability to grow is physically constrained, so whether the recent idea of tearing down City Hall and building a new school there takes hold or whatever, something needs to be done. Building a new high school will likely be more complex and costly, but it’s time to replace that aging facility…and, to the extent that bonds need to be issued to finance the project, we can take advantage of both the City’s AAA rating and the current, ridiculously low interest rate environment. And frankly, I would argue that a gleaming new facility for the system’s flagship school could actually drive further demand to attract new businesses and homeowners, which trickles down to help everyone. My two cents, but it’s time to move beyond year-to-year thinking with our schools.

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