Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said sales taxes on meals and hotels in Alexandria would rise under the city manager's proposed fiscal 2014 budget. The city manager said an increase in tax revenue is forecasted. This version has been corrected.
Alexandria homeowners and businesses would see increases in property taxes and cuts in services under a budget proposed Tuesday that also would increase spending by 6.6 percent.
City Manager Rashad Young, in presenting the $626.6 million budget, said a projected shortfall of $31 million, elected leaders’ requests for new revenue to pay for capital costs and uncertainty in the coming fiscal year required the city to boost the taxes on an average piece of residential land by $385 and on commercial property by $5,305. He proposed additional fees on vehicle registrations, parking and hotel stays.
Young pointed out that the city is facing its sixth straight year of economic hardship.
“I’m very sensitive to the slow recovery,” Young said. “We don’t know what the impact of sequestration will be. . . . This is about a balanced approach and a shared sacrifice. I’m not overjoyed at recommending a tax-rate increase and fee increase, but it does address the challenges we face.”
Under Young’s proposal, residential property owners would see the current tax rate of 99.8 cents per $100 of assessed value rise to $1.053. An average residence, whose assessment rose 2.7 percent this year, would see its tax bill increase from $4,571 to $4,956. Commercial property owners, who saw assessments rise 4.15 percent this year, would see their average taxes go up from $53,643 to $58,948.
If your car or truck is worth more than $18,000, your motor vehicle tax may be going up, too. If you park in Alexandria, parking fees are likely to increase 20 to 25 percent in the eight city-managed parking garages, and parking meters would have to be fed an additional two hours, until 9 p.m.
Fees for fire permits and inspections, marinas and developers would rise. Tobacco taxes would go up, too, meaning smokers would pay an additional 10 cents a pack. Garbage service costs for commercial taxpayers would go up; fees for homeowners would drop slightly.
The manager’s proposal, which now goes to the City Council for two months of work before a May 6 vote, would cut city expenses by $13.8 million by eliminating 14 jobs and leaving another 14 unfilled. The 2,500-plus employees who remain would have to pay higher health-care costs. Their pension costs would also go up, and city workers would not be able to cash in unused sick leave. They would, however, be eligible for a pay raise that averages 3.1 percent.
Hours at the city’s recreation centers and libraries could change, and Warwick Pool, which needs $511,000 in repairs on top of its $92,000 annual operating cost, would be permanently closed.
Most of the money that the tax increases would raise would go to the public schools, capital improvements such as sewers, and transit expansion. While Young advised against starting a much-discussed Arlandria-Del Ray shuttle system, which would cost $700,000, he advocated the expansion of the local bus fleet and putting another $600,000 next year into Capital Bikeshare.