The chairman of the D.C. City Council finance committee wants to cut by half Mayor Marion Barry's $24 million tax increase proposal and make up the difference with deeper cuts into the District's 40,000-member bureaucracy.
In his own plan for dealing with the city's fiscal crisis, council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2) calls for cutting 2,500 full-time positions from the base of the city's work force. All employes in those positions would be laid off.
And, to be sure that the cuts would be apportioned fairly by pay grade status, Wilson's plan would lay off 1,025 city workers at the GS-11 level or above.
Under the mayor's plan, a total of 1,223 jobs would be cut from the city's payroll, but more than half of them would be eliminated through attrition and only 550 would be laid off.
Details of Wilson's proposal, the first major counter to the mayor's tax package as announced two weeks ago, were made available to the Washington Post.
Whatever plan is ultimately adopted, its purpose will be to save the city from a projected $172.4 million deficit that is forecast by Sept. 30.
When it was unveiled, Barry's rescue plan was attacked immediately for being both too harsh on business; not hard enough on the large city payroll and not sufficient overall to save the city from red ink by summer's end.
The major elements of Wilson's package are:
Cutting the mayor's proposed 30-cent increase in the commercial property tax rate to 20 cents.
Increasing from 8 percent to 12 percent the sales tax rate on hotel rooms in the city. The mayor had originally propsed a 12 percent rate, but later reduced it to 10 per cent.
Upping the mayor's proposed 6 percent sales tax on gasoline and diesel fuel to 10 percent. Currently, the District taxes gasoline at a flat rate of 10 cents a gallon. Under a percentage tax, revenues would rise steadily with inflation in the fuel market.
Wilson would do away with entirely Barry's proposal to impose a 5 percent sales tax on the fees of lawyers, architects, real estate brokers and other professionals who services are not presently subject to a sales tax.
He would also scrap Barry's proposal to double the one percent deed recording tax in real estate sales.
And Wilson would drop a proposed 28 cent increase per $100 of valuation in the tax rate on industrial machinery, fixtures and furniture.
Wilson has estimated that his streamlined tax package would raise $9.9 million this year. He is expected to support Barry's proposed increase in parking fines and so-called "user" fees, which will yield another $3.9 million in revenues.
As chairman of the council's finance and revenue committee, which must pass on any new tax legislation. Wilson's support of an eventual rescue plan is crucial. In the past two weeks, Wilson has said there is no support on the council for Barry's plans and has not schedule hearings on the mayor's proposal.
It was not clear yesterday what forum Wilson will choose to present his alternative plan next week.
Wilson's motivation for seeking immediate and dramatic cuts in the city's work force was explained as an indication of his resolve to couple tax increases with a demonstrable reduction in the city's bureaucracy.
This approach is expected to be better received on Capitol Hill, were appropriations subcommittee members have been chiding city official about claimed fat in the payroll.
Nevertheless, Wilson's plan to eliminate the city deficit, potentially the worst flood of red ink in the city's history, apparently contemplates full funding of the $300 million federal payment authorized by Congress.
In cutting the work force, Wilson's plan would ensure that 41 percent of the 2,500 laid off employes would be GS-11 or above. According to Wilson's plan, that figure represents the currently proportion of GS-11s and higher in the work force.
Barry has asked the council to approve a new tax package by May 1 so that it can be put into effect by July , just three months before the end of the fiscal year.
Spokesmen for Barry could not be reached last night for comment on Wilson's counterproposal.