Alexandria citizens have made a most emphatic statement by electing Allison Silberberg as the Democratic mayoral primary last Tuesday.
Except for Ms. Silberberg, the current City Council has failed to adequately address the many needs, concerns, and desires of the citizens in almost every neighborhood in the city. In addition, the council has heavily mortgaged our future (and that of our kids) by accumulating a $530 million debt. This debt has a yearly debt service of $66 million, which just spiked to $80 million due to council choosing the most expensive option of the Potomac Yard Metro Station development. This escalation of our debt essentially equates to a 300 percent increase over the past 10 years.
During that same time frame, real estate taxes have increased 23 cents for every $100 of assessed value, which is a large tax increase, especially when the mantra of the incumbent council is that the massive development that we have endured will keep our taxes low. However, our AAA bond rating could be in jeopardy, due to large infrastructure costs projected for our schools and our combined sewer system, in addition to largely funding the $268 million Metro station. If the bond rating drop does not occur, then the next worst alternative is that massive tax increases will occur.
The three fundamental services that citizens should expect from their government are a strong safety net (a sufficient number of police and firefighters), a well maintained infrastructure, and good schools. Regrettably, this Ccouncil has failed to deliver adequately on all three by emphasizing density making over prudent decision-making.
Now is the time for additional change, since the current “status quo” council has created this management void, and has voted Ms. Silberberg down on many important issues. It is therefore imperative that new “voices of reason” from both parties be elected to join Allison Silberberg in governing this great city in a responsive and responsible manner, keeping in mind that there are no partisan issues in this city, only citizen issues.
Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet