The Vienna Town Council voted unanimously this week to lower property taxes next year by 3 cents for every $100 of assessed evaluation. The reduced rate, which will go into effect July 1, will be 33 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
Assistant Town Manager Brackenridge H. Bentley, in his budget proposal, recommended the cut and said the lower rate was intended to offset the adverse effects of a recent property reassessmentin Vienna.
Councilman E. Ross Buckley said he thought the town owed the reduction to its residents because of the approximately $1 million surplus in the town treasury last year.
Prior to the vote, Buckley said he was concerned because Vienna will use $392,405 of that surplus for cost-of-living increases for city employes and for public works projects next year if the proposed budget is adopted. "We are going to have a problem in future years if we don't find the money for some of these services," he warned.
The council also approved, in concept, a minibus system for non-rush-hour bus riders.
John Protopappas of the Northern Virginia Transit Authority proposed that the two minibuses replace the present 5W Metrobus during non-peak hours. The buses would run every half-hour between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. to provide in-town service as well as service to such places as Tyson's corner and Oakton.
Protopappas told the council that the elimination of the 5W bus during non-rush hours would save $100,000. He estimated that the two minibuses would cost $90,000. The 5W is paid for with transit authority money funneled through the county. The minibuses would be funded the same way.
Other metrobuses would make regular runs and the 5W would continue its runs in rush hours under the plan.
The council approved the proposal but amended it to suggest that the last rush hour 5W bus be continued to 7:30 p.m. instead of to the suggested 6:30 p.m. Protopappas said it would be at least a year before the minibus system could by operational, if approved by the county.
The approval of a tax reduction followed the second public hearing on the proposed $6,223,380 town budget for the next year. The budget, originally published as $6,105,380, was adjusted upwards prior to the hearing by Bentley due to Workmen's Compensation Liability Insurance and retirement fund increases.
At the hearing resident Lowell Schweickart objected to a proposed increase in the sewer charge from 95 cents per thousand gallons to $1.25 per thousand gallons for new sewer users. Bentley said Vienna is anticipating an increase July 1 in the charge to the town for sewage treatment at Blue Plains to $1 per thousand gallons. The difference between the cost of the dollar the town pays and the fee to users would be used for maintenance, construction and extension of lines as well as operating expenses according to Bentley.
Schweickart said he feared the charges to the town would continue to increase.
His fear was echoed by retiring town Manager C. Clay Harrell who told the council and Schweickart. "I believe we are being ripped off for high treatment costs at the Blue Plains treatment facility."
He recommended that the council request an investigation of the treatment plant if treatment costs continue to rise.
Col. George Lovelace testified that revenue sharing should be something over and above what the town could normally afford. A separate hearing on the revenue sharing part of the budget will be held on June 19. Maud Robinson, representing friends of the library, thanked the council for including budget funds for the library program.
In other business, the council set a hearing for June 19 on a revised cigarette tax ordinance for the town and swore-in three reelected councilmen and a mayor, Judge Phillip M. Brophy administered the oath of office to Mayor Robinson, Council members buckley, Vincent J. Olsen and Wanda C. Pellicciotto, Jacqueline LeTendre, a student at Madison High School, was named honorary mayor and presented an official gavel.