News

F.C. Council Drops Tax Rate Hike 3 Cents Below Shields’ Recommendation

council42210It took until almost midnight, but the Falls Church City Council found a way to hold the City of Falls Church’s tax rate increase to 17 cents, instead of the 20 cents recommended by City Manager Wyatt Shields in its final work session before Monday’s meeting when the vote will be taken to set the tax rate for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins July 1.

council42210

Falls Church Police Chief Harry Reitze stood in audience at the F.C. City Council’s work session tonight to explain why his department needs the community resources officer and records clerk positions maintained. He got his way on both. (Photo: News-Press)

It took until almost midnight, but the Falls Church City Council found a way to hold the City of Falls Church’s tax rate increase to 17 cents, instead of the 20 cents recommended by City Manager Wyatt Shields in its final work session before Monday’s meeting when the vote will be taken to set the tax rate for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins July 1.

Some key items under consideration, including eliminating the now-vacant community relations officer and the records clerk in the police department, were not part of the new array of cuts agreed to tonight. However, the Easter Bunny is on the brink of losing his job, although the Council gave the Department of Recreation and Parks the option of finding outside sponsors to continue the City’s annual Easter Egg Hunt and Halloween Festival events.

The Council agreed to sell the Pendleton House, with an expected sale price of $600,000 and to keep all the $426,000 added by the state to the schools after the school board had completed its budget. Thus, the City’s fund balance will be restored by $700,000, and funding for the GEORGE bus system was provided for only the first quarter of the new fiscal year pending a review of what best the ultimate fate of the system should be.

About $34,000 in cuts in the public library’s databases and periodicals were made and many line items were cut by only half, instead of altogether. A cut in the City’s contribution to the Falls Church Housing Corporation, for example, was lowered from $20,000 to $10,000. For the public information office, the Council deleted $20,000 from its printing costs and then later added back in $25,000, granting the office the discretion on the use of the funds. This came in the context of a very late-night discussion of the fate of the Weekly Focus that the City currently publishes, and will provide far less than the funds needed to continue the Weekly Focus’ publication in the new fiscal year.