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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Bad Guys Won...

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for fiscal responsibility and managing government spending down to the penny. But the new tax rate proposed by the Alexandria City Council disappoints me and makes me wonder the direction in which we are headed. I feel the City Council, due to election year pressure; has cut the tax rate way too much. There are some fringe groups in the city applying pressure to the city council and making this a big election issue. But when it comes down to it, it is not responsible.

Mayor William D. Euille (D) called the budget -- with few new programs and a growth rate of 4.82 percent-- "lean and mean." He said that the council's decision to cut some health-care benefits for employees and defer some big building projects made sense at a time when the region's real estate market is slowing and tax revenue could dip...

To hold down spending, the city decided to ask its employees to pay more on their health-care premiums and put off or scale down $7.5 million in large building projects. Those include a fire station for the Eisenhower Valley neighborhood and the next phase of work on the city's $64 million public safety center...

The city also decided to give the Alexandria school system about $2.3 million less than the $148 million it had requested. - Washington Post, April 25, 2006

It is not responsible to start cutting the spending within a thriving and growing city. It is not responsible to cut the tax rate when there are areas and people of the city that need development and assistance. It is not responsible to cut the tax rate when surrounding cities are drawing away our best teachers and city workers. And of course it is not responsible to cut the tax rate when, as a city across the river from DC, we need to develop much stronger disaster preparation plans. We are cutting health care, teacher compensation, public safety, and even more teachers.

Listen, I understand the reasons to cut the federal taxes and spending because the impact to the tax payers is not direct. I understand the fact that federal government is out of control in spending and it is easy for non-responsible use of the tax payers’ dollars. I even can understand the reasons to cut the taxes for state level; again most of the money being spent by the State is not seen directly by most tax payers. I also understand and support providing tax relief to those that can't afford the taxes. But I have walked around Alexandria and most of the people complaining about the taxes can afford the extra few hundred dollars per year, or the .25 per day in additional tax to the city.

But the city taxes are too close to home, literally. The taxes that we pay to the city are used for all services that directly impact our lives. The city services such as trash collection, parks, sports/recreation, small business assistance, safety, fire protection, historical preservation, streets, transportation, and so on… Of course one of the biggest parts of any city budget is the public school systems. 30% of the Alexandria taxes go to the ACPS (Alexandria City Public Schools) and we need to increase the spending in our schools.

I live in the city. I work in the city. My children are growing up in this city. It is a great place to live, and we need to continue to develop programs to ensure the city is thriving and developing in the most appropriate manner possible. We need to be competitive. We need to be fiscally responsible, but also socially responsible. There is a reason people love living in Alexandria, because the city runs well and it is a great place to live. There is a reason people like to work in the city because it is a great place to be.

Unlike the federal government, I don’t see pork barrel spending in Alexandria. I see a city that has great potential to become one of the best places to live in America. I see a city that has improved dramatically over the past 20 years. Let’s not stop now.
I am not privy to the details at this point, but I hope this new tax rate is not election year pressure, and the city continues to invest. That investment is an investment in me and my family. It is an investment in the value of my home. It is an investment in how we live. And most importantly, it is an investment in my children’s future.

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