I have lived or worked in the City of Alexandria most of my life. I have observed in excess of 50 budget cycles. This budget cycle was by far the most unusual.
A group of long-term City Council members who have been through seven or more budget cycles just discovered that they had approved budgets that did not allow Alexandria to maintain its physical buildings, schools, and sewer system. The past seven budgets deferred replacement of the failing sewer system (parts of which are 100 years old) and ignored the fact that raw sewage was running into the Potomac River.
The citizens of this city have noticed this and have been asking questions about this for 15 years or more. How can long-serving members of the City Council have not noticed this and allowed it to continue this long?
The city manager presented a very reasonable budget with a 2.7 cent increase in the real estate tax rate. That was a reasonable start on solving problems caused by low budgeting.
The vice mayor proposed a 5.7 cent increase without any intention of compromise.
The council had an “add and delete” meeting in which they supported the 5.7 cent increase with the only proposed deletions being offered by the mayor.
It was apparent that some of the council members came to that meeting with no intent of compromising with the mayor. They demonstrated arrogant thinking. This council cannot fix years of low budgeting with an increase of taxes and fees in one year.
This current budget has set aside millions of dollars in something like a slush fund. The use of which will be determined later. Three hundred thousand dollars is for potential use of consultants to study what the newly created task force will recommend to council. This city has a staff to perform this service.
This nearly 10 cent increase in taxes and fees imposes a hardship on a lot of our long-term low- and moderate-income residents and seniors.
Charles Edwin Simpson, Jr. C.P.A.