F.C. Council Mulls Using Surplus To Keep Tax Rate Unchanged

April 16, 2014 9:02 PM2 comments

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.




  • By surplus do they mean leftover from just this year or are we looking at whacking the fund balance? If the former, that seems like a reasonable way to soften the blow of increased assessments and the stormwater fee. If the latter, that is a way to spend the City’s savings account hoping that nothing goes wrong. Ever.

  • Gary LaPorta

    The following headline in the Washington Post caught my eye:

    “Arlington proposal to halt merit pay for county employees
    is quickly dropped amid outrage”

    Especially this quote: “We have great employees,” Fisette said. “We have to be economically competitive to attract and retain the people we do.”

    As I watch the budget presentations, I always hear the Superintendent and School Board Chair talk about how they reflect the same message as Mr. Fisette about teachers and school staff. In all my years in our city I cannot recall having heard that sentiment reflected during the City Manager’s presentation, other than Dan Mckeever.

    How many experienced and knowledgeable city employees have moved to other jurisdictions or retired early recently. I know, it may be just the sign of the times, but it still makes me wonder. For years now, I regularly check the city website listing job
    positions, just to keep up with what is happening at City Hall. As I write this, there are sixteen job postings. That may be the most I have ever seen on that page.

    I also always note the slide in the City Managers presentation how we have reduced the number of employees on the “city side.” When will we reach the tipping point, or have we already reached it, where services suffer. We keep hearing about “aging infrastructure and decaying sewers.”

    I say, “We have great employees, and we have to be economically competitive to attract and retain the people we do.”

    In my studies of business management, I keep seeing the recurring theme of “putting your people first.”

    I hope we are not creating a budget that is penny wise but pound foolish.

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