By Stacy Hennessey
It’s that time of year – you are probably seeing TV ads about the Senate race in Virginia, the race for retiring Congressman Jim Moran’s seat which features Falls Church’s own hometown candidate, Don Beyer, and many other political campaigns across the state, but did you also know that our City has two important local items which will be voted on this November 4?
First, there is a question on the ballot regarding the School Bond Referendum for the expansion of Mt. Daniel School. There will be a public forum about the referendum on Thursday October 23 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Please plan to attend so you can avail yourselves of more information. Be an informed voter and keep in mind that the foundation of our real estate values is the excellent reputation of our schools.
The other local item on the ballot is a special election for the office of City Treasurer. Many people I have talked with are either unaware that we are having an election for Treasurer, or they ask what exactly does the Treasurer do?
The primary responsibility of the Treasurer’s office is to collect taxes. While the Treasurer does not set the tax rate, and therefore cannot lower your taxes, a good Treasurer can have a positive impact on tax rates by doing a good job on collections. A high rate of uncollected taxes increases the tax burden on all citizens. Fortunately our current treasurer maintains an extremely low delinquency rate. The City of Falls Church publishes the tax collection statistics each year in the Combined Annual Financial Report – or CAFR – on the City’s website. The most recent CAFR report shows the statistics on page 91, Table 8. The City has a combined collection rate (Real Estate and Personal Property) of 99.34 percent over the last five years. This translates to a five year “delinquency rate” of 0.66 percent. The office consistently implements new ways to make paying our taxes easier and stronger methods to pursue non-payers. While being the tax collector isn’t necessarily a popular job title in most social situations, it is crucial to the running of the City.
The Treasurer does not assess real property values; that function is performed by the City Assessor. While that can be the subject of another article, assessments are intended to reflect market value. Nor does the Treasurer set the tax rate; that is set by our City Council each year during the budget process. The Treasurer does not make policy decisions. Policy decisions are also made by the Council and then implemented by the City Manager.
The other main function of the Treasurer’s office is to act as the City’s banker. All City revenue is processed through the Treasurer’s office including all receipts for the Falls Church City Public Schools, the Finance Department and all the departments within the general City government such as Recreation and Parks and the Mary Riley Styles library.
The Treasurer also works closely with the City’s Finance office to manage the City’s investments. The Treasurer has a fiduciary responsibility to provide independent oversight of the City’s investment accounts. The goal of the Treasurer’s Investment policy is to limit the City’s exposure to risk and to ensure the availability of cash to meet its expenses while still generating revenue from funds that might otherwise remain idle.
Like any good bank, the Treasurer’s office must provide excellent customer service. Besides processing all the City’s revenue, the Treasurer has a public counter where citizens can pay their taxes and other bills. Citizens come daily with the expectation that the person behind the counter will not only be knowledgeable and efficient, but also friendly. When you go to the counter, you want to be greeted by someone who knows their job and has a positive attitude and can make paying taxes as painless as possible! Fortunately our Treasurer’s office fits the bill.
The City Treasurer is a position of public trust. All of our revenue is touched by this office! It requires knowledge of current banking practices and strong accounting skills, with a strong operations background. It also requires knowing the City inside and out. It requires excellent people skills too and a strong desire for public service.
Next month’s election for City of F.C. Treasurer is between Democrat-endorsed Jody Acosta and independent Chris Johnson. Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, November 4.
Stacy Hennessey is a real estate agent and campaign manager for Jody Acosta for Treasurer.