Open letter was nonsense


To the editor:

J.J. Smith’s “open letter” (“How to handle the budget gap: An open letter,” February 11, 2010) is so rife with ridiculous misinformation and false comparisons that the Times should not have run it.

Smith’s letter ignores the fact that, from 2000 through 2009, in all but one year, the local, adjusted consumer price index increased by well over 4 percent per year and during this time the city experienced almost a 12 percent documented residency increase. During this time, city and Alexandria City Public Schools personnel have received pay increases equaling roughly half their increased cost of living.

Since the beginning of the 2007 fiscal year, the school division has experienced well over a 10 percent enrollment increase; by 2014, conservative estimates are that ACPS will experience a 20 percent or greater population increase since the 2007 fiscal year.

Smith absurdly claims that city and school division staffs are overcompensated relative to local households. This bizarre assertion seems to be based on comparing employed households to all (City) households, an apples-to-oranges comparison. Smith should instead have compared the average city employee’s salary to the average regional full-time employed person’s salary and, most particularly, the average federal salary. 

Smith would have concluded that city and school division personnel are between 10 to 25 percent behind the actual comparables.

Alexandria collects exceptionally low taxes in exchange for what is generally a high level of local service.