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Increase proposed in Alexandria property tax rate

Alexandria City Manager James K. Hartmann proposed a 7-cent increase to Alexandria's property tax rate Tuesday to help fill a $44.million budget gap. The tax rate would increase to 97.3 cents per $100 of a property's assessed value if approved.

Both residential and commercial property values fell, but the average homeowner would still pay $103 more in 2010, said city officials.

The city's $534.1 million budget, a 3.5 percent decrease from fiscal 2010, cuts 67 full- and part-time city employee positions, only 10 of which are currently filled. The community policing unit will be reduced, and a city-owned property housing older foster youth will be sold for approximately $1.1 million, among other items.

The proposed budget also includes a 2 percent increase, or $3.3 million, to Alexandria public schools. The transfer is about $700,000 short of what the superintendent had requested.

The proposed budget has several other options to increase revenue and decrease spending for council members to decide. The council is expected to approve an operating budget and capital projects plan in May.

-- Christy Goodman

By Washington Post Editors  |  February 16, 2010; 7:10 PM ET
 
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Comments

Wow Virginia. I thought messiah McDonnell preached LOWER taxes? Will he command these cities to lower property taxes and balance the budget using magical money? I have a vault of monopoly waiting to share.

Posted by: hadelaide | February 16, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

the public sector must get their RAISES!! sorry, private sector taxpayers. you're screwed again.

Posted by: millionea7 | February 17, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Alexandria's population grew 11.6% between 2000 and 2009. General property tax up 45%, four times faster than population growth.
• City payroll up 41%. Up 16% faster than revenues and hogs 68.1% of revenues.
• Average city salary up 36%. Up five times faster than population growth.
• Total city expenditures up 54%. Up five times faster than population growth.
• Expenditures per government employee up 49%. Easy to spend money that ‘s not yours. Four times the rate of population increase. Is the quality of life in the city four times better than in 2000?

Education spends $165,700,000, net after income. Is it top heavy with administration? There has been virtually no student growth yet school payroll is up 41.1%.

Public Safety spends $91,800,000, net after income. Up four times population growth? Are we four times safer than in 2000? Anecdotally I do not notice much difference. This looks like general overhead to me. Should not have grown four times as fast as the population growth.

General government spends $77,600,000, net after income. This looks like general overhead to me. Should not have grown four times as fast as the population growth.


And where might be the best areas to look for savings? Payroll stands out. The city has increased payroll at 3.5 times the rate of increase in our population.

If our payroll in proportion to revenue were the same as all Virginia independent cities, the savings to the city would be $24,000,000.

• If our payroll in proportion to revenue were the same as all Virginia municipalities, the savings to the city would be $9,500,000.

• If our payroll in proportion to revenue were the same as Fairfax and Arlington counties combined, the savings to the city would be $85,000,000.

It appears that at a minimum no increase in compensation at any level of the government is justified and actually some tough decisions need to be made to get the payroll back in line with a minimum target of no more than 60% of revenues. We are in a tough economy with unemployment in Alexandria at 4.6% (U-3) and a projected U-6 rate of almost 8%. That compares to 6.2% and 10.6%, respectively, in the Metropolitan area. There are plenty of qualified people looking for jobs. It is time for the city employees to tighten their belts like the rest of us.

Raising taxes is an unacceptable solution. The job of the city government and leadership is to be faithful stewards of the resources of the city and its citizens. Constant vigilance to prevent the squandering of our resources and reducing costs must always be high on our leadership’s agenda.

The city payroll is the largest target and opportunity. Where the rest comes from is a challenge and charge to the city government and leadership from the citizens of Alexandria.

Posted by: jjudsonsmith | February 22, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

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