Longer library hours, lower sales tax herald new fiscal year in D.C.

October 1, 2013

Library branches, including the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library, will be open until 9 p.m. most weekdays, as well as Sunday afternoons. (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

Besides being the first day of a potentially lengthy federal government shutdown, today, Oct. 1, is the first day of the District government’s fiscal year. As such, a host of legislative initiatives take effect today, as well as one major non-legislative initiative.

• Sales tax decrease. Effective today, the District’s general sales tax drops from 6 percent to 5.75 percent — restoring it to the rate that prevailed prior to the 2009, amid the economic collapse. Higher rates still prevail for restaurants, parking and certain other purchases.

• Longer library hours. A boost to the D.C. Public Library budget means that library branches will be open Sunday afternoons for the first time in years, and weekday hours will extend in most cases until 9 p.m.

• Tax relief. Some narrowly targeted tax relief provisions will be available to some city residents next year, including the expansion of  property tax credits for low-income residents and seniors and the repeal of a recently instituted tax on out-of-state municipal bond proceeds.

• More parking enforcement; higher fines and fees. Thirty new parking enforcement officers and 10 new traffic control officers are funded in the new budget; street sweeping fines are rising from $30 to $45, while camera-enforced speeding tickets are increasing as well. A citation for going 11 to 15 mph over the limit will cost you $100 rather than the current $92, while going 16-20 mph over will cost $150 rather than $100.

• Senior programs. A $5 million increase to the budget of the agency service D.C. seniors will allow for more social workers to support elderly residents, home meal service for hundreds more homebound residents and more capacity for senior transportation services.

• Cleaner streets. An additional $1.3 million will support “clean teams” and other programs to improve the streetscape in some commercial corridors.

• Credit-card readers required in taxicabs. Not included in the budget but taking effect today nonetheless is a D.C. Taxicab Commission requirement that all city cabs have credit-card readers installed. Ron Linton, the commission’s chairman, told WAMU-FM this week that 80 percent of the city’s roughly 6,500 taxicabs are in compliance. Drivers flouting the regulations now risk fines and impoundment if they continue transporting fares, though the commission is granting dispensations on a case-by-case basis.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | October 1, 2013