The Falls Church City Council made no decisions Wednesday night, but moved toward a majority consensus on keeping the real estate tax rate at its current $1.305 per $100 of assessed valuation, finding additional funds to avoid increasing the rate by four cents as City Manager Wyatt Shields proposed last month.
A number of Council members referred to the unusually high level of citizen responses this budget cycle objecting to the size of the tax and fee bills they will be getting in May. “There is no doubt there is a heightened sensitivity on the part of our citizens because they are faced with a triple whammy of tax rate increases, higher real estate assessments and the new storm water fee, while at the same time they are not getting salary increases,” Councilman Phil Duncan said.
“We are proposing a $400,000 cut in the schools’ request, but our goal is to achieve a citywide feeling the we did our hard work and our decisions reflect the community interest,” he said, noting that the big ticket items are coming in May and June when the Council will consider bonding for new kindergarten to second grade additions at Mt. Daniel School, for improvements to the Thomas Jefferson Elementary and new Thackrey Day Care Center and for construction of a new high school.
Mayor David Tarter noted that four members of the Council seemed in favor of keeping the “flat” tax rate, while two Council members want to lower the original Shields proposal by maybe two cents, thus limiting a rate increase to two cents.