Council Keeps City Tax Rates Steady
By GEORGE BROMLEY
Falls Church Times Staff
April 23, 2012
The Falls Church City Council voted this evening to hold tax rates at their current levels. The real estate tax will remain at $1.27, the personal property tax will stay at $4.84, each rate for every $100.00 of assessed value.
Prior to the vote Vice Mayor Dave Snyder introduced a motion to reduce the tax rate to $1.26, calling the higher rate a tax increase. Snyder advocated reducing reserves and removing all proposed non public safety related positions from the budget, achieving a net estimated savings of $560,000. ”I don’t believe in holding the tax rate today artificially high to make it easier for politicians in the future to pass on taxes,” he said.
Councilman Ira Kaylin, who had seconded the motion, then spoke in opposition. ”The only thing I agree with is that the tax assessment increases are tax rate increases,” he said. Earlier Kaylin warned that the City’s finances are still fragile and projected a $1.9 million budget shortfall next year, which could result in a tax rate of $1.33.
Mayor Nader Baroukh said that to get the rate down would impact critical initiatives such as storm water management and could have consequences on the City’s borrowing capacity. “As much as I’d like to do a one time reduction in the tax rate I don’t think it would be prudent or in the long term interests of the City,” said Baroukh.
Snyder’s motion was voted down, 6-1. The Council then approved the tax rates and the FY 2013 budget, with the vice mayor dissenting. The Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for FY 2013-17 was approved, 7-0.
In a statement to the Times the mayor said that the budget and the CIP are the product of a great deal of discussion and work and meet the critical needs of the City in these
difficult financial times. “This budget and CIP strikes a healthy balance between the City’s fund balance and the needs of City employees, schools, and services. And it meets the Council’s policy objectives including strengthening economic development, providing greater resources for infrastructure improvements to address items such as school facilities and stormwater managemen,” the mayor said.
Earlier the Council voted unanimously to withdraw the controversial “Ped Plan”, deferring further action until at least June 25. Many residents spoke against the plan, particularly its proposal to eliminate street parking on Hillwood Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, and West Street.
In his report to Council, City Manager Wyatt Shields advised that representatives of six prospective bidders for the City’s water system attended an informational meeting today that included a tour of the system.
By George Bromley
April 23, 2012