F.C. Council Told to Gird for Another Tight Budget Struggle

The Falls Church City Council was told by the City’s Chief Financial Officer Richard LeCondre tonight to be prepared for another very tight budget struggle come the New Year. LeCondre and City Manager Wyatt Shields said that a 3.2 percent growth in revenues to the City is expected, but that it will come exclusively from new development projects, including the Northgate mixed-use project under construction and improvements to single residential homes. Otherwise, there will be no net growth in real estate assessments expected from the annual assessment process in January.

The scenario for the next budget stipulated that no added sources of revenues, such as an increase in the tax rate, is the projection, which can hold only if growth in the School Board budget is held at 3.2 percent and funds a limited for storm water and other capital projects. That scenario would generate a $681,285 surplus.

However, it was shown that an alternate scenario providing a 9.3 percent increase for the School Board and a 5.4 percent increase in general government costs would result in a $1,855,948 deficit.

These alternate scenarios were first presented in a joint City Council and School Board work session last week, and School Board members stated that, given continued explosive enrollment growth, the School Board budget request would necessarily be closer to a 9 percent than a 3 percent growth. Shields also pointed out that the City’s obligations for pensions will grow by more like 20 percent, and inter-jurisdictional contracts by double digits.

“This is going to be a very austere budget,” Shields said. The final combination of second quarter (Oct-Dec 2012) performance and real estate assessments will not come in before late January. The School Board will adopt its budget in mid-February, and Shields will present his recommended budget in mid-March, with the Council slated for final adoption of the next fiscal year budget in late April.