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Fur Flies as F.C. School Board Challenges Long-Range Assumptions

At a joint work session on the City of Falls Church’s budget projections for the next five years held at City Hall Thursday night, members of the F.C. School Board lashed out at arbitrary assumption built into the projections that growth of the school budget will remain at a fixed two percent annually. The long-term projections presented by F.C. Finance Director Richard LaCondre Thursday was designed to assist the Council in setting priorities for its current deliberations on the FY2012 between now and its formal adoption of the annual budget at the end of April. LaCondre conceded he was presenting a “very conservative” set of projections, based on the uneven and unpredictable record of the last three years’ fiscal numbers. His projections overall indicated a virtual flatline in terms of added revenues. “I want to be wrong about this,” he said. :But I think there will be a ‘new normal.'”

School Board chair Joan Wodiska and board members Kieran Sharpe and Greg Rasnake assailed the projections between FY2013 and 2016 for City expenditure transfers to the schools, which LaCondre listed as between two and three percent. “That projection is based on no facts,” Rasnake said. Wodiska added, “There is no assessment of enrollment growth, fuel costs or any other factors. You can’t ignore these figures.

“We’re already hearing pressure aganist salary increases for our staff based on their potential implications for the out years,” Wodiska protested. She said that LaCondres no growth revenue projections don’t reflect indications that economic development is heating up, including the immediate impact of the new BJ’s Wholesale Warehouse and the Mad Fox brew pub, as well as the Akridge project on N. Washington and the Hilton Garden Inn plans on West Broad. “Why should we base our projections on numbers from the single largest recession” of the last three years, she asked.