The Falls Church City Council Monday night, by a 4-3 vote, adopted an $88 million budget for the coming 2018 fiscal year with a 1.5-cent increase in the real estate tax rate from $1.315 to $1.33 per $100 of assessed valuation. The entirety of the increase, amounting to $600,000, will go to a reserve fund to help defray future costs for a new high school. Under the terms adopted, the operating budgets of the City and the schools absorb a $137,000 cut below their initial requests.
The reserve fund issue was clearly the main bone of contention on the Council, and has been for weeks. In a compromise move, Vice Chair Marybeth Connelly moved the adoption of the budget with the reserve fund component cut in half from City Manager Wyatt Shields’ original recommendation, from $1.2 million to $600,000 (or 3 cents to 1.5), and while she and three other Council members — Letty Hardi, Karen Oliver and David Snyder — were willing to go along with the compromise, three other Council members — Mayor David Tarter, Phil Duncan and Dan Sze — stuck to their guns to oppose any added money to the reserve fund and voted no.