No Consensus on F.C. City Council, Another Work Session Set Thursday on Budget

April 16, 2013 9:41 PM6 comments

With four budget “scenarios” before them tonight with proposed tax rates ranging from the current $1.27 to City Manager Wyatt Shields’ proposed $1.33, the Falls Church City Council could not reach a consensus tonight, and will therefore have to reconvene on Thursday night in order to come to an agreement in advance of its final vote next Monday.

The range was slightly narrowed to between $1.29 (per $100 of assessed real estate valuation)

to $1.31, but that was with Vice Mayor David Snyder not present. There was also a consensus that the schools should not get their full request, although only one of the four paper scenarios specified a cut an increase in the schools’ request from 14.3 percent to 10 percent, bringing the schools $1,259,980 short of their request.

That scenario is still very much on the table, and Councilman Ira Kaylin set the table for a run on the schools’ request with a scathing prepared statement accusing the schools of “fear mongering,” credibility problems and “an appearance of conflict of interest.”

School Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones was in the room along with a large contingent of school supporters. By the rules of a work session, they were not permitted to speak, and sat through an hour and a half discussion of the budget that included Kaylin repeating his charges. Only Councilman Phil Duncan, who did not escape Kaylin’s wrath, took a mild swipe at Kaylin’s incivility by saying he must be having a bad day, to which Kaylin retorted that he is not.

Kaylin lashed out at the school board request, and Council member Johannah Barry followed suit, saying that “the rising trajectory of the school budget” has to be scaled back. Other Council members present then followed the tone of Councilman Ron Peppe’s call for compromise by all parties, even as Duncan said he felt “there is a communications disconnect at the core of this budget.”

Two points raised included (1) despite the fact that up to a $2 million surplus having just been found in the current Fiscal Year 13 budget last week, the news did nothing to relieve the pressures on either cutting the schools’ request or the tax rate and (2) on top of whatever the new real estate tax rate will be, there will also be the added burden on taxpayers of funding a new Storm Water Utility to the tune of an average $250 per household, even though annual payments on that would be put off until a year from June.

The issue that drew the most applause at Saturday’s Town Hall meeting on the budget, the bloated size of the City’s fund balance, did not come up at all tonight.

Council members will meet Thursday to do more fine tuning on the numbers in hopes of, as Mayor Nader Baroukh said, getting four or them to agree for purposes of Monday’s vote.

  • http://twitter.com/poseidonguy1 PoseidonGuy

    Taxpayers should be outraged. Let’s assume that FC increases the rate to $1.33 and Arlington adopts its increased rate this year of $1.003 per $100 in assessed value. That means a house assessed at $510K in Arlington pays about $5,115 in annual property taxes. That same house in FC will pay $6,783 in property taxes, a whopping premium of $6,783 to live in the “Little City.”

    The runaway residential taxes in FC will undoubtedly start to impact people’s decision to live here.

    • FallsChurchCitizen

      We’ll never have the economies of scale that exist in Arlington, Fairfax, or
      even Loudoun Counties. For what it’s worth, here are property tax rates for
      area jurisdictions:
      Arlington: $1.003
      City of Alexandria: $1.053
      City of Fairfax: $1.09
      Fairfax County: $1.095
      Loudoun County: $1.23
      Town of Vienna: $1.332
      Town of Herndon: $1.36
      Manassas City: $1.364
      Town of Leesburg: $1.425
      Manassas Park: $1.65
      http://www.fallschurchva.gov/content/government/departments/finance/finance/fy14budget/townhall_govmt_2013march.pdf

      • http://twitter.com/poseidonguy1 PoseidonGuy

        We’ll certainly never get close when we have constant knee-jerk opposition to commercial and mixed use development, which broadens the tax base and brings in additional revenue to the City.

        And, frankly, if we had competent City planners who promoted the areas along Rte 7 (and elsewhere) for decent restaurants, bars, clothing retail, etc., we might have a shot at similar economies of scale. Instead we have checks cashed joints, auto body shops, and the like. Not exactly the kind of place you want to stroll around with your family and spend money at on a Sat. afternoon.

    • Vincent Seidita

      The premium is actually $1,668. Did you study mathematics in those inferior Arlington schools with the overpaid faculty? (This post is an attempt at humor and not intended to offend!)

      • http://twitter.com/poseidonguy1 PoseidonGuy

        Apologies, typo. Edited above!

  • Vincent Seidita

    Phil, thanks for being the voice of reason and compromize. If we had more elected officials like you in the US congress and senate the country could address its issues.

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