By a unanimous voice vote this morning, the Board of Directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce endorsed a strongly-worded letter to the Falls Church City Council from its legislative committee opposing City Manager Wyatt Shields’ recommended five cent commercial real estate tax overlay for the upcoming fiscal year. The City Council has now less than two weeks to finalize its budget of revenues and expenditures for the coming fiscal year, beginning July 1, and accordingly to set the tax rate.
The letter, which Chamber President Michael Ankuma told the City Council at its meeting last night may be coming, pending the board’s action this morning, in its words, “strongly urges the F.C. City Council to drop consideration of imposing a commercial transportation tax overlay (CTTO)” pending development of specific proposals for which the money would be used, state legislative requirements of a CTTO for matching funds, and an overall review of City taxes, including personal property and BPOL taxes, on City businesses. The letter calls the CTTO “unnecessarily burdensome on City businesses,” noting the “current combined tax burden on Falls Church businesses is already straining many of them to the breaking point in this economic climate.” It concludes, “It is our belief that allowing businesses to retain more of their revenues will best promote business growth, development, and retention in the City, which will both strengthen our business community and ultimately increse the City’s revenue from the commercial tax base. We believe that imposing an additional business tax now would in fact create an opposite result.”
In its decision this morning, the Chamber board took into account the revised recommendation of Shields at last night’s City Council meeting to raise the base real estate tax rate from $1.24 currently to $1.28, three cents higher than what Shields proposed last month. With the CTTO, that would boost the tax rate for commercial properties in the City to $1.33. It was also noted that $300,000 in federal stimulus funds will be used for sidewalk and related repairs and upgrades in the City’s commercial zones this coming year, precluding the need for additional funds from the business community to achieve similar results.
Trademark attorney Eric Pelton, vice chair of the Chamber’s legislative committee, made the presentation of the proposed letter to the Chamber’s board meeting, held in ae conference room at Tax Analysts, this morning.