Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields proposed a Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget to the City Council last night of $106 million, which provides for a 2.3 percent ($946,567) increase in general government operating expenditures and a 2.5 percent ($1,068,894) increase in local funding for public schools, as requested by the School Board.
The proposed budget proposes a one cent reduction in the real estate tax rate; however, due to rising assessed values, the average homeowner will experience a $291 increase in the tax bill next year.
Shields presented the proposed operating budget and the Six-Year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) to the Council.
Superintendent Peter Noonan and School Board Chair Shannon Litton joined to provide a briefing on the school’s budget.
The Council has set forth a schedule of two budget town hall meetings and three public hearings, prior to adopting a final budget on April 26. The 2022 fiscal year runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. A complete schedule is listed below.
This FY2022 Proposed Budget allocates $100,000 to the Affordable Housing Fund. This will be used to accelerate the City’s affordable housing programs, supplement the Amazon REACH grant funds of $3.75 million that have been awarded to the City, and leverage future developer contributions to the fund.
The FY2022 Budget proposes funding for body worn cameras for the City Police Department, and adds additional civilian positions to support the functions of the department, which is a first step in addressing recommendations of the recent Use of Force Review Committee.
The FY2022 Budget funds the six major flood mitigation projects that were recommended by the Stormwater Task Force. A two percent increase in the stormwater fee is also recommended to pay for the series of smaller stormwater projects completed this year.
A series of state grants for transportation improvements, including the Park Ave. “Great Streets” project, the Oak Street Bridge, and the Washington and Columbia intersection improvements are allocated through the Capital Improvements Program.
The FY2022 Proposed Budget also includes $200,000 in contingency funds to address uncertainties resulting from COVID-19. This is intended to address either revenue shortfalls or increased demand for services and assistance as the City recovers from the pandemic.
Debt service will decrease by $500,000, or 3.8 percent due to the cancellation of planned debt issuance in FY2021 and refunding prior bonds from 2013 and 2011 at lower interest rates.
This budget uses $4.05 million in capital reserves towards the debt service, as planned.
The budget allocates $4.5 million in FY2022 from the 10-acre land at the GMHS campus, under the Amended Comprehensive Agreement that was executed with the Falls Church Gateway Partnership to capital reserves, in accordance with the plan of finance for the new high school.
Additionally, the City expects to receive voluntary concessions from Founders Row for $1.8 million in FY2022 which is also being placed into the capital reserves in this budget.
The complete text and charts included in the City Manager’s proposed FY2022 budget can be viewed at www.fallschurchva.gov/Budget. The schedule of budget meetings and public hearings is also available on the website.
Two Virtual Town Hall meetings are scheduled: March 11 at noon and April 15 at 7:30 p.m.
The City Manager and School Superintendent will give presentations and answer questions on the proposed budget, CIP, the George Mason High School project, and more. These town halls can be viewed live through the link, and available for viewing later on the City’s website, YouTube channel, and FCCTV rebroadcasts (RCN 2, Verizon 35).
Public comment is open at the City Council’s regular meetings, including March 8, March 22, April 12, and April 26.
Those who wish to provide public comment during those meetings should register online.
The City Council’s work sessions do not allow for public comment but are open for the public to watch: March 15, April 5, and April 19.