Local Commentary

Editorial: Our Teachers Deserve 3 Percent

It is slightly less than amazing that in the year when the City of Falls Church is embarking on the most intensive infrastructure development efforts in its history — with a new high school and renovated City Hall and public library projects all at once — the tax implications of all this on City residents are very minor.

Please note that when City voters approved the school bond referendum by a wide margin last November, they were told at the time that the real estate tax implications would include an immediate six cents (per $100 of assessed valuation) jump in the tax rate. They voted for the bond anyway.

Now, with all that has transpired in a cooperative effort to hold the line on expenses since, it now appears that the needed hike will be a fraction of that. The big vote in Richmond yesterday will reduce the City’s obligation to WMATA for fixing the Metrorail line to a fifth of what was originally feared, so the tax rate growth now could be only 2.5 cents. That would include a three percent cost-of-living adjustment for all City and school employees, just north of the annual inflation rate, and added funds for tax relief for the City’s qualifying elderly and disabled, as well.

That plan is what the City Council is prepared to vote on for its final Fiscal Year 2019 budget on Monday. However, there is an alternative plan to whack even more off the tax rate by denying $350,000 of what the Schools have requested to provide that three percent COL for its employees and we’re going into the big vote on Monday unclear which way the Council will vote. It is likely to be a split vote, unfortunately, with the faction seeking to cut the Schools even more below the 2.8 percent increase (the lowest in many years) they’re seeking insisting on holding the Schools to the “guidance” of 2 percent growth they were provided last fall.

We urge the Council to align behind the Schools’ request for its employees, which will be so much easier to do now given the other good news on the budget.

There is the argument that the Schools should not get used to the idea of exceeding their budget “allowance,” on the one hand. But there is the argument, on the other hand, that citizens should not get used to the idea of short-changing education. This is by far the bigger problem, and we’re now just beginning to see the consequences of this across the U.S., where the opening stages of an unfolding mass strike wave is underway that addresses women’s issues, gun control and proper funding for education — all seen in the broader context of the same issues.

It has to do with the demand that the nation do better by its women and children, frankly, which is so important to our future overall.