Civically quiet, vulnerable populations need economic relief

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To the editor:

As a senior citizen writer has noted in these pages before, many long-time and valued residents are on fixed incomes. This year their Social Security payments are frozen, but the mandatory Medicare fees rose, so seniors have less discretionary income than before. Many of these “cash-poor” are too “house-rich” to quality for the city’s tax assistance. They do not appear at Council meetings to plead their cases because of pride, poor mobility, etc.

Council members hear mainly from those who want more for themselves or pet projects, and your hearts are stirred to help these needy causes. Not feeling pinched so hard financially yourselves, you can afford the increased taxes you levy.Don’t cite just the tax rate that doesn’t include trash fees and the like. Look at the total taxes you obligate citizens to pay, just like regular folks do.

We need a reduction in the total tax burden that has doubled since the mayor’s tenure began.Yes, the budget will therefore be reduced. Citizen writers have made apt suggestions about where to cut. There are doubtless other places and opportunities for increased efficiencies. I’m disappointed our many very highly tax-paid staffers have not made more suggestions about how to do so. I hope the Council’s appointed Budget Advisory Committee consisting of citizen volunteers has some good ideas to share soon with all of us.

After our tax burden has been reduced, citizens who can and wish to increase support for various projects can contribute directly to them and assist the needy via charitable donations of cash, goods and/or services. This approach would recognize the limitations of our vulnerable populations (which include more than the elderly) while providing citizens more freedom to directly support what we value most; It is genuine democracy in action!

Our wealthier neighboring jurisdictions have recognized the need to reduce tax burdens and are actively working to do so. Surely we can, too. 

Council’s advertised rate, shockingly higher even than the city manger’s recommendations, is an admission of failure to recognize today’s financial reality for many voters and a breach of trust with citizens.We expect better, because as candidates, Council members promised to exercise responsible judgment with financial discipline and restraint. They also promised to use creative solutions to our challenges not just spend more tax money. We watch, remember and hope they do so.

Ellen Latane Tabb

Alexandria


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