City clears money hurdle

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The Alexandria City Council has officially designated the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership as the city governments economic development arm.

The designation became necessary to receive money from the U. S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment. They are going to give us money so that AEDP can hire a Base Realignment and Closure Commission coordinator, said Mayor Bill Euille at Tuesday nights meeting. We need to approve this agreement so that our relationship with AEDP is clarified.

A previous agreement that designated AEDPs predecessor, which was a program of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, as the citys economic development office, expired in 1994 and was never formalized afterwards. AEDP has been serving in this capacity since then but in order for us to give them the money from the federal government, we need to ratify this new agreement, said City Manager Jim Hartmann.

In 2005, Alexandria lost seven to ten thousand workers who occupied approximately 1.5 million square feet of office space in the city. These jobs have been consolidated and the federal employees moved to Fort Belvoir under BRACC. The federal government has agreed to pay the city $255,800 to mitigate the economic loss. The city will give this money to AEDP to hire a coordinator who will work to bring other commercial entities to the city to make up for these losses. Council approved the agreement unanimously.

Personal property tax enforcement
Councilman Justin Wilson is proposing some changes to the enforcement of personal property taxes. First, he would like to eliminate the requirement to display a personal property tax decal on vehicles. I would like to see an analysis of the cost savings of replacing the annual decal with one permanent decal that vehicle owners could purchase at initial registration and retain throughout ownership of the vehicle in the city, Wilson said.

He also suggested one point of registration. When people move into the city, they are required to register their vehicles with both DMV and us. Since the city has access to DMV registration data, we could automatically register vehicles from this information. This would eliminate one step for the taxpayer, Wilson said.

Wilson is also suggesting combining personal property tax bills with real estate tax bills for homeowners in Alexandria to streamline this process. A number of other jurisdictions have already moved to this system.

Wilson suggested a number of other ways to cut costs and improve customer service related to personal property tax collection. City Manager Jim Hartmann agreed to assign staff to analyze the issues that Wilson raised and to docket the results of this analysis for an upcoming council meeting.

Valet parking on King Street
A second Kempton Hotel is coming to King Street and, like its sister on upper King, the Hotel Monaco will have valet parking.

Council voted unanimously to allow three valet parking spaces on King Street, in front of the new hotel. The Hotel Monaco will replace the Holiday Inn at 480 King St. Two current taxi spots and one metered space will make way for the new valet service. Cars are not permitted to linger in these spots for more than 10 minutes, and large tour buses will be encouraged to unload on the Pitt Street side of the hotel at the entrance to the garage. Valet parking will allow the hotel to add 70 spaces to the garage.

I understand the concerns about interrupting the traffic flow on King Street, but the trade-off seems worth it, said Mayor Bill Euille. The staff needs to monitor the situation, of course, to make certain everything is working smoothly. I see that the hotel has offered to allow nearby restaurants to use the valet service as well and that is good for everyone.

The Old Town Civic Association opposed valet parking. If you are going to allow it, use the Pitt Street entrance, said Townsend Van Van Fleet, president of OTCA. Even a disruption of 15 seconds in rush hour can make a huge difference to traffic flow on King Street.

Council encouraged OTCA to work with the hotel owners to avoid future problems. OTCA had rejected an offer from the owners to meet with them earlier.

 

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