News

F.C. Council Pushes for Holding Tax Rate Hike to 15¢

img_0347The Falls Church City Council, meeting in its second-to-last work session before its planned adoption of the FY2011 budget next Monday, took a big step forward toward shaving up to five cents off the City Manager’s recommended real estate tax hike tonight. 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 is poised to tackle that list with an aim to get at holding that tax rate hike to 15 cents at its final work session this Thursday night.

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F.C. Councilman Nader Baroukh (second from right) makes a point during tonight’s work session. (News-Press photo)

The Falls Church City Council, meeting in its second-to-last work session before its planned adoption of the FY2011 budget next Monday, took a big step forward toward shaving up to five cents off the City Manager’s recommended real estate tax hike tonight. 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 is poised to tackle that list with an aim to get at holding that tax rate hike to 15 cents at its final work session this Thursday night.

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

Proposed savings put onto a master list included the 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), the Falls Church Housing Corporation, the anticipated new recycling carts, 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. Part of 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.