A Metro article yesterday incorrectly stated that Alexandria's real estate tax rate would be Northern Virginia's highest next year if kept at its current rate. Prince William County's rate would be higher.

Acting Alexandria City Manager Vola T. Lawson last night recommended trimming 2 cents from the city's real estate tax rate which, if maintained at its current level, would be the highest in Northern Virginia next year.

If the City Council adopts Lawson's recommendation -- and most council members, all of whom are seeking reelection, showed enthusiasm for it -- it will cut the tax rate from $1.41 per $100 of assessed valuation to $1.39. That rate would match the $1.39 rate set by Fairfax County officials earlier this month.

Cutting the city's tax rate still would not lower the tax bills for most Alexandria homeowners, because assessments have been rising along with the value of real estate.

City Assessor David J. Chitlik estimated that the value of the average single-family home, which now costs $112,400, will rise by 4 percent next year to almost $117,000. The owner of such a home would get a tax bill for $1,625, about $40 more than this year's bill.

Lawson said $1.1 million in unexpected state funds and a broadened tax base give the council the option of lowering the property tax rate for the first time since 1980.

Several council members said at last night's council meeting that they would approve the tax cut at a May 14 budget hearing, which falls one week after council elections.

"Sure it's more appealing to cut taxes in an election year," said Republican council member Robert L. Calhoun. "But given our revenue situation this year, it would be a good idea to cut them even if elections weren't being held."

Calhoun and the two other Republican council members, Caryle C. Ring and Margaret B. Inman, and Democrats Donald C. Casey and Lionel Hope also said they favored the tax cut.

The proposal to lower the tax rate is expected to draw fire from the city's teachers, who this week initiated a work-to-the-rule job action to protest the city's plans to give them 4 percent raises rather than the 5 percent raises they are seeking.

By working the bare minimum number of hours required by their contracts and refusing to grade papers or help students outside of class hours, the teachers hope to pressure the city to give them the extra 1 percent.

Lawson said yesterday that the teachers were not likely to receive more than the 4 percent salary increase she recommended for all city employes.

In other action, the council unanimously adopted a resolution urging the D.C. City Council to raise the District's minimum beer drinking age from 18 to 21. Earlier yesterday, the D.C. Council announced it will hold public hearings on a measure to raise the age to 21. If approved, that measure would make the drinking age uniform in the Washington area.

Some D.C. residents, particularly those living in Georgetown, have complained that teen-agers converge on bars in the city, because they cannot buy beer elsewhere, and have cause disturbances and unwanted congestion.