Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields Tuesday night put numbers to the four options the F.C. City Council wound up with Monday night, and presented them to a meeting of the Joint Council-School Board working group, to which five Council members showed up at the School Board offices.
Option 1 calls for holding the tax rate at its current level of $1.305, involving $920,000 in reduced spending and $680,000 in use of Fiscal Year 2014 surplus, with general budget reductions and School Board request reductions each at $319,000. This is the plan preferred by Councilman Phil Duncan. Option 2 holds the tax rate at $1.305 by using funds from the sale of the water system, with $219,000 in general governments operations no significant School Board request reductions. This is the plan preferred by Vice Mayor David Snyder. Option 3 increases the tax rate to $1.335 with general government reductions of $219,000 and no significant reductions in the School Board request. This is the option preferred by Nader Baroukh and Karen Oliver. Option 4 keeps the tax rate at $1.305 with $720,000 in spending reductions, including a $219,000 reduction in both the general government and School Board funding requests, and use of $200,000 of unassigned fund balance. This is the plan preferred by Daniel Sze.
Further Council meetings are slated for this week leading up to the day of decision next Monday night, April 28.
School Board chair Susan Kearney cautioned the Council members present tonight that she did not believe anyone on the School Board would endorse any plan that calls for reducing their budget request. Tuesday’s meeting also focused on how plans for capital improvements in the schools would provide for the continued explosive growth in school enrollment that’s expected. She said her board worried that its budget request was based on a “mid-level enrollment growth forecast,” but that if it turns out to be higher than that, then that will pose even greater pressures on the schools’ budget.