Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields presented two options for lowering the projected tax rate increase in his recommended budget Thursday night, as he’d been requested to do by the Council on Monday. One option would drop the tax rate by 2.6 cents, and the other by the 4.5 cents such that the rate would remain the same as last year’s at $1.305. In both cases, further reductions in the proposed City operating and school budgets would be included, $238,000 from the general government and $400,000 from public education.
With two key members of the Council not present for the work session Thursday, Vice Mayor David Snyder and former Mayor Nader Baroukh, Mayor David Tarter determined that after a lengthy discussion by those present that no move toward a final choice of options be made at that meeting. There is time before the Council must formally adopt its FY15 budget on April 28.
Neither of the options makes use of unassigned fund balance for the combination of new revenues and cuts. The second option includes all the components of Option 1 but uses surpluses from the current fiscal year, assigned temporarily to the fund balance but which would be used for one time or capital projects otherwise, to come up with $680,300 of the $1,600,000 million needed to keep the tax rate the same as this year. The rest of the $1.6 million comes from $282,000 in debt service savings found in a new scrub of the numbers and the $638,000 in cuts to the operating and school budgets.
Even if kept at $1.305 (per $100 of assessed valuation for real estate), most City residents will see their tax bills higher when they arrive in May, first because of a hefty boost in assessed values and second because of the first-time annual stormwater fee that will vary widely from property to property based on levels of impervious surfaces.