Maybe it’s just the way the process is structured, but seems to us unnecessary and even tragic that a small community like the City of Falls Church needs to be torn asunder every spring in the budget cycle by what comes down to very small sums of money, in a comparative sense, needed for very important things.
We are very pleased that in its wisdom the City Council here voted, albeit 4-3, to give the school system that final $340,000 it needed to achieve its objectives for the coming year. It took a long time, from the first of the year on the one hand, and from 7:30 p.m. Monday night until the final vote after 11 p.m. was held.
The final penny on the tax rate needed for that $340,000 averages out to $64 for the average household in the City, such average household having an assessed value of $643,900. Now, if one is living in more modest digs in the City, such as one half the value of the median, then the number that everyone was so exercised about Monday night added up to $32 per household a year. Notwithstanding the few remaining fast food joints in the City, it is hard for two people to go out to dinner once in an entire year and spend less than $32.
So, while the number was small, the impact was huge. According to the School Board, lacking that last penny’s value for the schools would have caused the loss of four teachers, because by that point, everything else had been reduced to the max, and the only remaining area to give on was salaries.
But in the context of these things – the contrast between the cost and the benefit – there was more acrimony in the deliberations, especially from a tiny group of anti-school funding citizens (note: they will never permit themselves to be called anti-school, only anti-school “funding”) whose voice became angrier and more shrill, though often on blogs and comments on the Internet, than we’ve seen in a long time.
It is regrettable that some of these same elements have made it known that this approach will continue all the way to the November City Council election, when three incumbents, Mayor David Tarter and Council members Nader Baroukh and Phil Duncan, will have to decide if it remains worth their while to seek re-election.
For our money, and we’ll put it out there right now, although we’ve not agreed with any of these three all the way, we’d be willing to support their re-election, if only to stand for the kind of civility we think this town deserves. Officially, we’ll wait to see who runs before making our formal endorsements this fall.
Shrill and ad hominem attacks on hard working and barely paid public servants (and that includes teachers) in this activist community will only serve, hopefully, to arouse the righteous indignation of more civil and community-minded folks.