Mayor Marion Barry told a House subcommittee yesterday that he does not foresee having to ask for a tax increase next year, and that he might propose a tax cut if the city's economy continues growing.
The mayor opposed a suggestion D.C. City Council Chairman David A. Clarke made Tuesday that the city might use $41.3 million in excess revenue it has this year for a $25-per-taxpayer rebate. It would not be equitable, would cost too much to process and would mean the city could not do as much on social programs, Barry said.
"I don't hear a public clamoring for a tax decrease," the mayor told reporters, after testifying on the city's fiscal 1986 budget before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District.
Clarke said he is still considering the idea.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District opened its fiscal 1986 budget hearings with testimony from law enforcement officials who said intense efforts to find and convict drug dealers and users have not yet reversed a growing trend in drug abuse in the District.
Citing more than 16,000 arrests last year for drug violations, D.C. Police Chief Maurice Turner said, "You would think that would have some impact on the total problem, but it has not had an impact on the problem."
Felony drug indictments in D.C. Superior Court more than tripled from 569 in 1981 to 1,985 in 1984, according to figures provided by U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova. While the problem has not abated, diGenova said that as more convictions are obtained in these cases, the deterrent effect should start to set in.
Asked by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) what resources he could use to fight the problem, Turner said his office could use more funds for drug-buying as part of investigations of dealers. With the amount of such funds available now, "we can't afford a $50,000 walk to further the investigation."
Turner said that of a police force of about 3,860 persons, 281 work full-time on narcotics trafficking.
Barry told the House subcommittee that the city is putting a great deal of emphasis on drug abuse prevention. "We are facing a drug epidemic in the community," he said.
Meanwhile, the panel's new members from suburban jurisdictions, Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), indicated they had a number of "parochial" questions to submit to the mayor.
At the hearing, Wolf asked Barry to do something about moving traffic along the Theodore Roosevelt bridge between the District and Virginia, and Barry said his office would work with Wolf's on the problem.