Alexandria's proposed $147 million operating budget for fiscal year 1984 drew praise, concern and a number of recommendations from a large gathering of citizens, civic leaders and special interest groups last week.
Throughout the first daylong public hearing on the budget Saturday, speakers representing public safety employes, social service programs, housing and youth services suggested adjustments in the draft budget.
The city Park and Recreation Commission called for $30,000 to be used to eliminate hazards for toddlers on the city's play equipment. The Commission on Aging sought $22,000 to provide a lunch program and the salary for a new administrative position.
There were also requests that funds be trimmed.
Herbert J. Levy, president of the Upper King Street Neighborhood Association, opposed a plan to widen Duke Street in his area because, he said, it would "only widen the bottleneck of the traffic that backs up waiting to go southbound on Rte. 1."
The most intense criticism of the budget came from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and several speakers representing local restaurants and hotels.
The budget, recommended by City Manager Douglas Harman, is 7.6 percent higher than this fiscal year's, but that increase is necessary just to maintain the current level of city services and represents a standpat budget, officials said.
Funding for a substantial part of that increase depends on revenues from a proposed 3 percent restaurant tax and a 5 percent hotel tax.
"It is unfair and counterproductive to put additional taxes on an industry which we use as one of the attractions to encourage new businesses to locate here," said Barton Middleton of the chamber.
Presently, the city meal tax is 1 percent and the hotel room occupancy tax is 4 percent.
City officials said the council is expected to adopt a new city budget in about three weeks.