Commentary, Local Commentary

Editorial: The Stellar 2022 Summary Report

Readers are advised to study the report on Page 13 of this edition that delineates the impressive, if not stunning, long list of achievements by the City of Falls Church government over the year of 2022. Coming into the new budget season, some citizens may be focusing their attention on what they feel the City has not done for them or the fact that a reduction in the tax rate that the City Council will have to wrestle with this spring may not be to their satisfaction.

Indeed, the signals are already out there that the next budget, covering the fiscal year that begins on July 1, may not include the strong downward trend of the last two years (when the rate declined from $1.3555 per $100 of assessed real estate valuation to $1.23) due to the revenue gains from new robust mixed-use growth in the City. Combined with whatever increases in real estate assessed values may be (and as fast as the real estate market is adjusting now, it will be hard to predict), the reports on that being due from the City Assessor next month, taxpayers here may face some added pain this year.

But the 2022 summary of achievements may be appreciated as a form of balm to assuage that pain. There can be little doubt, based on that report, that citizens are getting plenty of “bang for their buck” for all the bucks they are being asked to cough up. The seven areas of results identified in the report – small town character in an urban setting, economic sustainability and vitality, safe streets for all, social equity, inclusion and affordable housing, public safety, environmental sustainability, and effective and responsive government services – constitute a formidable array of achievements.

They add up to what makes for an improving quality of life for the 15,000 residents here, including greater safety on the roads and all around, more open curated space, continued economic growth that promises to lower tax rates going forward also giving City residents greater options in retail and restaurants, and a commitment to the kind of diversity and equity that we should all be proud of, It goes without saying that all of this on the City operations side of things also supports an unrivaled, world class school system.  

If there is one thing needed to lower the cost of living in Falls Church, it is the desperate need for a lot of new affordable housing. While more progress is identified in the 2022 report than we’ve seen here in years, it is not enough to allow for the kind of real economic diversity needed to allow for recent college graduates, for example, and others who work for the City to live here.

Sadly, this is where City residents do not appear to shine as well as they might, resisting modest zoning and other changes that are needed to make this possible.