Letters to the Editor: April 21 – 27, 2016
We Need to Take Care of the Needs We Have Now
I’ve lived here 20 years; paid attention to City business and politics for 12; and this is my third year on City Council. I’ve seen three superintendents; four or five city managers, dozens of elected officials – all with unique personalities and goals.
One thing they all had in common: public service. All are trying to do their best for the City of Falls Church. The decisions public servants make are daunting because they affect real people – our neighbors and friends.
Elsewhere in the paper you will see reports of the decision we face next week: keep tax rate flat or raise the tax rate $.025 cents to $1.34 per $1000 of assessed value. That equates to $200 additional on an $800,000 property.
Budget decisions made this year will resonate into the future and we have to decide carefully. I’ve considered both options, and both have merits. In 2014, I voted to hold rate steady, and this year I support the 2.5-cent increase.
1. We need to take care of the needs we have now. Because we are planning for the future we need to build sustainability into our operating budgets. Increases in costs out of our control (health insurance and WMATA), mean there is almost no room for growth. Staff are identifying areas for reduction, but there isn’t enough fat in the budget to reduce the request by over a million dollars and keep our city whole. Items that are reduced or cut are still needs, and they will still be with us next year.
2. We face daunting capital expenditures and that may mean increases in future tax rates to pay for City Hall, the library and the GMHS/MEHMS campus. But restraining operating isn’t helping us save for the future.
3. Every month when I pay my bills I am painfully aware of how much it costs to live here, and I would love to keep the tax rate flat. But living in a small jurisdiction means that things cost more. If you look at Vienna, Leesburg, Herndon, an increased rate to $1.34 will be comparable to all of them.
Vice Mayor, City of Falls Church
Tax Rate Should Be Compared to Arlington, Not Tysons
If the citizens of the City of Falls Church would like to have insight into the City Manager’s fiscal attitude, as presented in the last week’s Falls Church News-Press rate hike article, do note his use of the real estate tax rate of the Tyson’s area, $1.49 (regular Fairfax County rate plus special Tyson’s taxing area assessment), to legitimize his rationale for adding two cents to the city’s proposed real estate tax rate $1.315 per $100 assessed value.
If he were being fair he should have also noted Arlington County’s current rate of $0.996 per thousand.
Arlington is an area experiencing the same types of financial pressures as the city. Also note that Arlington is keeping its rate the same for calendar year 2016.
So, why did he choose the Tyson’s/Fairfax County rate for comparison versus Arlington County’s? I think the citizenry can answer that themselves and will keep that answer in mind for the future.
Additionally, recognition should be given to the Council members that are exercising overdue fiscal restraint in advocating no rate increase.
Assessment increases should be enough to keep the city healthy.
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