correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly confused the stormwater management fee with the sewer fee. The city's stormwater fee will be $140 per year for the average homeowner. The sewer fee, billed through Alexandria Renew, is expected to rise $25 per year.
Alexandria taxpayers will not see an increase in their property tax rate for the coming year according to the budget passed Thursday night, although rising assessments may push up their bills by an average of $199.
The $748 million budget, passed unanimously, more than doubled a proposed spending increase for police, sheriff and fire department recruitment and salaries, after complaints from public safety workers that their wages had fallen behind those of their peers in other Northern Virginia jurisdictions. City manager Mark Jinks said he will make a recommendation to the council in September on how to spend that $3.5 million. He had included a boost of $1.4 million when he unveiled the proposed budget in February.
The council’s budget includes $4.75 million from a proposed meals tax , which would go into a dedicated fund for affordable housing and has generated opposition from restaurateurs.
The tax legislation received preliminary approval Thursday on a 4-3 vote. The all-Democratic council will hold a public hearing and final vote on the matter May 12. The three who voted no — vice mayor Justin Wilson and council members Paul Smedberg and Tim Lovain — said they objected to earmarking revenue for a particular purpose, calling it a bad budgeting practice that will tie the hands of future councils who may be faced with financial emergencies in other areas.
About a third of the budget, $252.7 million,is devoted to the city’s public schools, a 4.2 percent or $10.1 million increase over this year’s funding. The county’s spending plan includes $2.2 billion over 10 years in the capital improvements program.
In addition to larger property tax bills because of rising assessments, residents will likely see a $25 increase in their sewer fee, to help pay for repairs to the outdated portions of the city’s sewer system that are required by federal clean-water regulations.