‘Don’t raise taxes’

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The speakers list was small, but the message was loud and clear: Dont raise our taxes.

On Tuesday night, Alexandrians had the opportunity to speak to City Council about the possible real estate tax increase. Four people showed up.

I want to use the words of some very wise leaders, said Bud Miller, representing Taxpayers United. He then quoted every member of Council speaking about the need to give tax relief to Alexandrias homeowners and to pass a fiscally responsible budget.

All you have to do now is to keep your word, Miller said.

The other speakers had similar messages and spoke specifically about an ever increasing school budget as enrollment continues to decline and bloated administrative salaries throughout the school system.

Mayor William Euille reminded the speakers and the audience that the published maximum tax rate of 83.5 cents per $100 of assessed value is just that: a maximum rate. That doesnt mean that we are going to raise the rate by that amount or by any amount. It simply gives us the option to do so if we find that we need extra funds to meet the needs of our citizens, Euille said.

Councilman Paul Smedberg asked if Council could change their minds and publish an alternative maximum that is lower. Could we not adopt a resolution to make that maximum rate 83 cents instead, he said.

While his colleagues agreed that the rate would not necessarily be increased by the full two cents that is now possible by law because of the previous resolution, no one wished to change the maximum rate. Council will adopt a budget for fiscal year 2008 and set a tax rate for next year on May 7.

Affordable housing woes continue
Wesley Housing Development Corporation came forward with Mildrilyn Davis, the citys director of housing to request that their loan to renovate Beverly Park Apartments be restructured. Wesley wishes to reduce the number of affordable units from 41 to 33 and asked the city to increase the permanent financing of its 2006 loan from $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

When Wesley bought the Arlandria apartment complex in 2005 for $4.1 million, it planned to rehabilitate the 41 one-bedroom units and to make several of them into family-sized apartments, increasing the number of bedrooms available at Beverly Park from 41 to 57. When low-income tax credit applications to the Virginia Housing Development Authority failed, Wesley had to delay planned renovation.

In the 18 months since Wesley has managed the complex, it has discovered a number of maintenance issues, which will expand the scope of work initially proposed, impacting cost. There are electrical problems, sewer backups and an infestation of bedbugs, issues not revealed in Wesleys initial assessment.

The project that is now being proposed will include renovations of kitchens and bathrooms, replacement of windows and roofs, upgrades to the plumbing and electrical and HVAC systems, improvements to the building facades, enhancements to controlled access security and resurfacing of the parking lot. Under the new configuration, Beverly Park will have seven efficiencies, 18 one-bedroom units, six two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units.

In light of the problems we have had obtaining tax credits for this project and for Glebe Park, we need to really have a discussion about how we are going to finance affordable housing projects in Arlandria and throughout the city, said Councilman Rob Krupicka.

Wesleys request was approved.

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