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F.C. Council Urged to Adopt ‘Budget Guidance’ With Cloudy Tax Language

Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields has recommended the F.C. City Council adopt a “budget guidance” document at its meeting this coming Monday which calls for the manager to “present a budget in which real estate revenues are not required to increase more than 0 percent” in Fiscal Year 12 over the current fiscal year. The puzzling sentence structure has left some observers scratching their heads. If the word “not” was moved down the sentence, it would read, “are required to increase not more than 0 percent,” which would clearly mean that net revenues from real estate taxes shall not be more than for the current year. On the other hand, the sentence in its current form could be interpreted to mean the opposite to that.

The “guidance” calls for holding government expenditures for operations (not including pension and other post-retirement benefit contributions) to no more than one half of one percent, even though this guideline is established prior to the mandate to “review all City government programs and operations to achieve the most efficient and effective delivery of community services possible,” and to “present alternatives to reduce costs through consolidation, mergers, contracting, partnerships and other means.”

The “guidance” also calls for funds the City’s basic and police pension plan obligations through “a combination of increased employee and city contributions,” and that options should be developed and recommendations made for reducing projected increases in pension costs in the future.

The Council will deliberate on this document with an aim to voting on a resolution calling for its adoption at its regular business meeting this Monday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Council chambers at City Hall.