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F.C. Council Closes In on Final Budget Decisions, Votes Monday

img_0347Long List of Additional Cuts & Tax Rate Still Awaiting Tough Choices

The Falls Church City Council is preparing to make some major decisions about the FY2011 Falls Church budget tonight in its final work session before Monday’s vote to finally adopt a budget replete with major program cuts and a hefty real estate tax rate increase.

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F.C. Councilman Nader Baroukh (second from right) makes a point during Monday’s work session. (Photo: News-Press)
Long List of Additional Cuts & Tax Rate Still Awaiting Tough Choices

The Falls Church City Council is preparing to make some major decisions about the FY2011 Falls Church budget tonight in its final work session before Monday’s vote to finally adopt a budget replete with major program cuts and a hefty real estate tax rate increase.

The biggest issue on the table is whether or not the Council can find a way to lower the tax rate increase below the 20 cent hike recommended by City Manager Wyatt Shields without severely curtailing programs and services that contribute significantly to the quality of life in Falls Church.

In its work session this Monday, the Council took a big step forward toward shaving up to five cents off the City Manager’s recommended tax hike. In an exemplary display of cooperation, the seven Council members generated a list of potential savings beyond what City Manager Wyatt Shields has proposed, and that list will be the subject of tonight’s meeting.

“This was a very healthy, very good dialogue,” Mayor Robin Gardner said at the conclusion of Monday’s two-and-a-half hour session.

Proposed savings put onto a master list include the following:

• City’s utilization of all or a portion of the unexpected $426,000 state contribution to the schools,

• handing over operation of the GEORGE bus system to Arlington,

• selling the City-owned Pendleton House property,

• making partial cuts to the library (without shortening hours), to its contribution to the Falls Church Housing Corporation, to the anticipated new recycling carts, to two analyst positions in the human services division,

• cutting mentoring funds to the Alliance for Youth,

• eliminating the now-vacant community resource officer position and possibly the parking enforcement officer positions at the police department,

• cutting funding for special events beyond the already-proposed cessation of July 4 Fireworks and Watch Night support,

• cutting into the $170,000 budget for information technology efforts,

• trimming the sheriff’s office budget,

• tackling the $600,000 line item for urban forestry services,

• trimming the $1.2 million line item for street and sidewalk maintenance,

• reverting to part-time status for the now vacant contract manager’s position,

• limiting the Council’s contingency fund,

• addressing the role of the GIS officer,

• reducing the hours from 40 to 30 of a Rec and Parks Department administrator,

• assessing the need for a records clerk at the police department,

• cutting the hours of a human resources analyst position,

• addressing deferred compensation and tuition issues, and miscellaneous printing costs,

The list also included the recommendation by Councilman Dan Sze that funding for the City’s Weekly Focus be maintained at its current level to enable its continued weekly publication.

 

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