F.C. Council Votes Full Funding Of School Board Request

April 22, 2013 8:24 PM22 comments

The Falls Church City Council voted to adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year granting the full 14.3% increase in the School Board request with a tax rate of $1.305. The vote was 5-2 (Kaylin and Barry voting no).

A standing room only crowd that jammed the Council chambers tonight was overwhelmingly in support of full funding for the schools, and there was a lot of hugging and handshakes once the vote was taken.

Falls School Schools Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones told the News-Press, “I am grateful for the children and the staff, for the kids and the teachers,” she said, filled with emotion. “I believe that people will do what’s right. We have real needs and were able to share that with the community and the Council saw the effect of that this year.”

The budget was adopted from among five options that confronted the Council at the beginning of the meeting. While a plan by Councilman Phil Duncan was withdrawn, the main contention developed over an option supported by Council members Ira Kaylin and Johannah Barry that proposed cutting the School Board request by $1.3 million.

While Kaylin and Barry spoke passionately in support of their plan, in the name of fiscal balance, the vote failed 5-2, with only their votes in favor.

There was subsequently no support for a plan to cut the Schools request by $344,700 and then a modification to an original plan for full School funding was introduced by Vice Mayor David Snyder, cutting a half cent on the tax rate, won the majority vote, 5-2.

The Council subsequently voted into being a Storm Water Utility Fund, but the budget vote included use of surplus money to delay the imposition of storm water fees until June 2014.

The winning budget plan tonight also included a minor reduction in the City’s fund balance goal of 17% to 16.1% percent, and funded the continuation of Falls Church Cable TV, while foregoing the hiring of an additional police officer or a “sustainability coordinator.”

Among those in the SRO audience tonight was Jesse Thackrey, a founding member of the Falls Church School System who will be turning 100 this summer. She was accompanied by her son who spoke in favor of full School funding.

  • https://www.facebook.com/DakinAssociates Shaun Dakin

    Great news. Thank you to the members that voted to fully fund the schools.

  • Mark

    A very bad decision by the City Council.

    1. continue to fund the city on the backs of homeowners;
    2. set an extremely bad precedent by giving the schools everything they want (regardless of cost to taxpayers);
    3.reduction in fund balance goal is short term thinking at its best.

    FCC is more than a school district. There will be yet another tax hike next year, and the year after, etc. FCC will soon gate itself off to the middle class.

    • http://www.viget.com/about/team/bwilliams Brian W. Williams

      I’m a homeowner and I supported the school funding.

      Saying the City Council gave the schools “everything they want” is a misrepresentation. The school budgets are not set in a vacuum. Study the budget and you’ll see that the schools “wanted” FAR more than they ultimately requested. The schools trimmed significantly before making the formal budget proposal, which is why the idea that the schools aren’t considering the larger economic realities just isn’t correct.

  • FallsChurchCitizen

    For those that believe the schools ask too much, I submit that voicing frustration against the City Council is missing the fact that we also elect members of the School Board, who are responsible for providing the funding recommendation that is ultimately approved by the Council. Seems to me that getting more fiscally conservative people on the School Board might produce more tangible benefits.

  • JFallsChurch

    increase in tax rate plus probably an increase in home values

  • Mark

    As noted below: we will top things off with an increase in home assessments – thus tax increase is even more!

    Agree with the comment of the school board: they are not considering the homeowners.
    We now fall surpass Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria on homeowner tax rates.

  • LGarvelink

    Congratulations to the Council for making a hard decision. For those with kids in the schools, this is still much cheaper than a private school of the same quality & diversity. For those of us with no children — “It Takes A Village”!

    • http://twitter.com/poseidonguy1 PoseidonGuy

      lol – same quality as private schools? that’s funny. Check the rankings.

    • JFallsChurch

      Depends on the Village…..

    • Patton

      Nonsense. Go add up the actual cost per student/per year in FCCPS – it costs more than tuition at Congressional, Flint Hill, etc. In fact, the only school in NVA that costs more is Madiera – and tuition there includes room and board for the student – and theiir horse.

  • Mark

    To make it clear … the path FCC is pursuing is not sustainable. We pay 1.305 per 100; in contrast Arlington/Fairfax/Alexandria pay 1.00 per 100!! FCC is more than a school district.

    At current rates – FCC will tax the middle class out of FCC. FCC will then be an elitist gated community.
    Taxing homeowners to death is not the answer. The schools should be ashamed of the burden they place on homeowners. The City Council has failed.

    • FallsChurchCitizen

      We’ll never have the economies of scale that Arlington and Fairfax have, so it may be worth noting that our tax rate is lower than the rate in smaller municipal jurisdictions like Herndon, Leesburg, and Manassas.

      • Mark

        This is the peer group we compare ourselves to …not ex-burb places like Leesburg, etc. Once again, the tax rates will only increase .. and the schools will most likely as for another double digit increase next year, and the year after, etc

      • http://twitter.com/poseidonguy1 PoseidonGuy

        Leesburg is arguably not comparable because residents there pay taxes to both Leesburg and Loudon County (incidentally, both are well below FC…cumulatively they’re a little over $1.40 per $100 assessed value). But I think everyone knows that Fairfax and Arlington are a heck of a lot more comparable to FC than the places you mentioned. Cost of living (real estate values, etc.) is lower in those ex-burbs.

        • FallsChurchCitizen

          What about Vienna (also higher and much closer)?

        • http://twitter.com/GarrickBoyd Garrick Boyd

          You have to compare the combined city and county taxes since FCC is essentially both.

    • JFallsChurch

      An elitist gated community….it’s already $525K for a 1200 square foot cape cod.

  • In the majority

    Our property values are high because of our school district. We spend less money on schools, comparatively, than Arlington or Fairfax. Our school budget has declined as a percentage of the city budget.
    Any other decision would have cut directly into the economic value of FCC property.
    FCC is more than a school district, but the quality of the school district is the most important thing the city is. Reduce school quality, and you can realign property values to that of Falls Church in Fairfax County south of the City (not the McLean school district)

    • http://twitter.com/poseidonguy1 PoseidonGuy

      “The school district is the most important thing the city is [sic]” — Yeah, because anybody who questions the school budget is deemed a non-supporter of “the children,” and the City is apparently incapable of investing in other important things, like commercial development, parking, etc. If FC’s only claim to fame is its school system (which according to most local rankings is similar or below many public system peers), we’re in trouble as a jurisdiction!

  • FallsChurchCitizen

    Fairfax County settled on its budget, too:
    http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20130420/NEWS/130429996/1117/fairfax-board-of-supervisors-amends-budget&template=fairfaxTimes
    “The budget the board will adopt next week “makes no one happy,” Bulova said, but she believes it is a fiscally responsible approach.
    The real estate tax rate will increase by 1 cent, to $1.085 per $100 of assessed value, less than the 2-cent increase proposed by County Executive Ed Long. This will raise homeowners’ tax bills by an average of $216.”

    “The $1.7 billion in funding, $41 million more than this year, is less than what the School Board had asked for but, Bulova said, is adequate to cover the costs associated with the school system’s rapid enrollment growth.
    School Board members had been planning to give a pay raise to school employees. However, as the Board of Supervisors was not able to fund pay raises for its employees, county board members strongly discouraged them from doing so.”

  • http://twitter.com/GarrickBoyd Garrick Boyd

    Can someone please explain to me why property sales/values have seen substantial gains over surrounding areas despite the higher tax rate?

    I mean OTHER than FCCPS…

    (I was appalled by the comment last night by a gentleman who “gains nothing” from our excellent school system! Maybe he won’t “realize” the gain until he sells his house and moves.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Smith/100002309640996 Mike Smith

    I hate to say I told you so; but I told you so. Maybe when the tax rate hits $2.00 someone might say at least a little “no” to the Schools.

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