Your View: Ability to compromise is crucial


Alexandria City Councils fiscal year 2012 budget season came to an end on May 2 when we adopted the spending plan by a unanimous 7-0 vote without the controversial additional tax on commercial properties that would have funded transportation projects.  
This consensus did not come without compromise, and during this budget season there was a tremendous amount of give and take to reach a budget with a unanimous vote. The add-on tax for commercial properties, funding for schools and pension adjustments were the three major topics of discussion.  
I am pleased to say that the solution for our continuing transportation challenges does not impose an additional burden exclusively on our business community in these fragile economic times. 
I advocated strongly for not creating a special tax district on commercial and industrial properties, and not imposing this tax was instrumental in my support of the overall budget. Citizens and business owners voiced their concerns about this inequitable tax, and after much debate, the council listened. 
More than $10 million a year has been budgeted through the general fund for necessary projects that will support our growing citys transportation needs.
Another major challenge we faced in the budget this year is the growing enrollment in city schools. Currently, 24,000 youth under the age of 18 live in the city, which accounts for 17 percent of our population. Two existing elementary schools approaching 50 years old were approved for major renovations in the budget.  
The majority of the council was not in favor of making any modifications to the pension plans of current city employees. However, I am hopeful the newly appointed ad-hoc Pension Advisory Committee will bring proposals forward that are in-line with private sector retirement plans. I am committed to maintaining fiscal responsibility while continuing to offer competitive benefits to city employees.
Some of Alexandrias greatest needs will be served through this budget. We have successfully provided funding for long-term needs, such as education and public safety, while also addressing the urgency of transportation funding without burdening our citys job creators or harming economic growth. It has been a pleasure working with my fellow city council members to find solutions to these challenges and keep Alexandria moving forward.