“The demands, the needs are ever-present, and revenues are never enough,” Jinks said in a premeeting briefing with reporters. “At least this past year, the revenues are a little bit better.”
Jinks said he also wants to increase storm sewer fees by 4.5 percent, and the refuse and recycling fees by 11.9 percent, yielding revenue that would help pay for government operations. He said there will be small increases in some user fees for development, special events and park rentals, recreation center admissions, ambulance transport, museum admissions and an after-school program.
Last week, the city reported that the value of taxable property rose by 4.15 percent in the past year, which would have pushed up a property owner’s tax bill even without a tax increase. The current tax rate is $1.13 per $100 of assessed value; Jinks’s proposal would increase it to $1.15.
The city council enters a two-month process of examining and amending the budget, with final adoption scheduled for April 29.
Jinks said the additional money in the general fund would fully fund the local schools superintendent’s operating budget request of $241.4 million, about 30 percent of the general fund budget.
It would also pay for cybersecurity and physical security for city properties and assets, a new information system for city courts, improved field and turf at city parks, adding resources to museums at Freedom House and the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House; and expanding early childhood and full-day summer school for low-income children.
The $8.5 million generated by the higher property tax rate would go into the 10-year Capital Improvement Program and pay for construction of new buildings for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School and the Minnie Howard campus of T.C. Williams High School; City Hall repairs; storm-water management; obligations to Metro; replacing buses; and waterfront flood mitigation. About $9.6 million would be dedicated to affordable housing in fiscal 2021.
In an unusual statement for the veteran manager, Jinks said he plans to ask the city council for tax rate increases every other year over the next six years to raise about $230 million to pay off the city’s debt. The council, he said, wants to do long-range financial planning and forecasting and this is his way of responding.
“This will take that pressure off the general fund,” Jinks said, citing broad community support for projects such as bridge repairs, flood mitigation and City Hall repairs. “But if we’re going to do this capital improvement program, we need to do it with eyes wide open.”