Council discusses possible tax hikes

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City Council officially and briefly discussed possible tax and fee hikes Tuesday, which, if approved, will be part of the new budget, scheduled for adoption May 5. The possible increases result from a funding gap of approximately $21 million dollars that the city expected to be subsidized by state transportation taxes.

“I want to make sure that our citizens understand our rationale behind these items,” Mayor Bill Euille said said at Council’s regular meeting. He added that the council was required by state law to advertise such major fees and taxes.
No tax or fee increases have occurred yet, and officials have said adopting all of them is unlikely. A public hearing is scheduled for April 12 with taxes among the planned topics of discussion. A tax-specific public hearing is scheduled for April 22.

Here are the possibilities of what’s to come, or as Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks has a tagged them, a “menu of options”:

  • Transient lodging (hotel) tax It would increase by 2 percent, from 5.5 to 7.5 percent. Council has requested that any revenue from this increased rate go solely toward transportation projects.
  • Meal tax The city’s meal tax (separate from the 5 percent sales tax on meals) affecting restaurant-goers, would increase by one percent, from 3 to 4 percent. A portion of revenues would go towards a regional marketing campaign to draw the DC area toward Alexandria to dine.
  • Non-residential commercial property tax Retail businesses are currently charged $.20 per $100 of total receipts. This would increase the sales threshold of how much a business is charged for its net receipts from $100,000 to $1 million, providing a tax relief to small and medium-sized businesses, according to the ordinance.
  • Ambulance service fees Transport fees would increase for the sixth time since 1969. Those needing ambulance services for basic life support would pay $400, and advanced life support would cost $500. Both would be $100 increases. It would cost $675 for the next level of advanced life support, which includes medicating the subject intravenously, a $125 increase.
  • Parking meter fees This increase would make all meters in the city a uniform $1.00 per hour. If adopted, it would raise meter costs in the zones east of Washington St. by $.25, and west of Washington St. by $.50. Revenue for the budget’s general fund would raise about $680,000 annually, according to the ordinance.
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