With a surprising unanimity and spirit of cordiality among all seven members tonight, the Falls Church City Council voted 7-0 to adopt its Fiscal Year 2010 budget, holding the real estate tax rate increase to $1.07 per $100 assessed valuation while fully funding the School Board request that will provide a half-step salary increase for all school employees.
The Council expressed deep concern for the inability find a way to prevent the layoffs in the City government as originally recommended by City Manager Wyatt Shields. In the final analysis, the budget reflected the recommendations made by Shields in early March that included increasing the tax rate from $1.03 to $1.07, translating in dollar terms to a very small net increase in the average tax bill, while defunding three full time and four part-time City employee positions and de-funding the GEORGE bus system. GEORGE will continue for the coming year in a scaled-back manner, using non-F.C. budget funds from the state and Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. Falls Church’s New Year’s Eve and Halloween celebrations will remain intact, and only non-residents will be charged for mulch delivery beginning July 1. All on the Council said they recognized that next year’s budget cycle will likely be even tougher than this year’s, though neither the tax hike or the spending cuts were nearly as draconian for the City this year as in surrounding jurisdictions, including Fairfax County with 300 layoffs.