At its final work session before voting on its Fiscal Year 2013 budget tonight, the Falls Church City Council (Robin Gardner absent) reaffirmed its budget objectives of fully funding the School Board request, restoring the fund balance to two-months’ worth of annual revenues, and providing a 5.5 percent salary increase for all City employees.
The discussion of the salary hike began to get dicey, however, as some Council members expressed the view that a less increase, at 4.5 percent, go into effect on July 1, and an additional half or full percent be added on next January 1. But when Council member Ron Peppe pulled up on his laptop inflation figures over the years there were no salary hikes for City employees, and the cumulative number was significantly higher than the net gains for City employees even with this coming proposed hike, the conversation of delays came to a quick halt.
Still, Mayor Nader Baroukh tried hard to establish that responsibility for a 5.5 percent hike would be City Manager Wyatt Shields’, noting that if revenues don’t wind up covering that increase (calculated at $267,000 above the 3 percent hike originally proposed), the blame would lie with him. When the News-Press asked Shields to confirm the percentage increase that will be in Monday’s final budget resolution, he said without hesitation it would be for 5.5 percent.
Vice Mayor David Snyder sat at the opposite end of the work session table tonight from where he usually was, seated next to Councilman Ira Kaylin, Kaylin had launched into what Snyder had called a “personal attack” on him at last Thursday’s work session, and it remained evident that there was a lack of cordiality between the two tonight. Snyder stuck to his earlier commitment on behalf of lowering the tax rate by a penny from $1.27 per $100 assessed valuation, a call that drew Kaylin’s angry outburst last week, but no one else on the Council shared his view.
By deciding to purchase three, not five, new police cars and not to hire a part-time assistant fire marshal, along with other small changes, the Council found itself with $100,000 left over, which it decided would be split between increasing street paving and storm water maintenance.
The Council adjourned at 9 p.m. tonight having determined that a final work session this Thursday would be unnecessary. There will be a final public hearing before the Council votes on the FY13 budget a week from today.