Alexandria must change the way it elects city councilors

Alexandria must change the way it elects city councilors

To the editor:

I am not surprised by our city council’s decision to increase taxes. Given a choice to spend or not to spend, they revert to form. After all, each and every one is a good Democrat, which means taxing and spending is their natural inclination. Their varying reasons for taking evermore money from the public also is genuine.

They really do want to improve. They want to provide and enable residents to have a safer community replete with public services galore, not to mention more schools to accommodate the burgeoning student population.

But there is an exception. It, in turn, creates a dichotomy. The exception is our city council’s tactic of using density to mitigate the tax burden that they impose on residents. Their notion — best I can make it out — is that cramming more people, structures and automobiles into Alexandria will create more taxpayers and thus more tax revenue. And herein is the dichotomy.

As density occurs in ways small and large — reducing the quality of life with congested roads, schools, public facilities, neighborhoods and so on — taxes do not go down, they go up. More density may create more revenue but nowhere near enough to pay for the costly services and facilities, especially schools, needed to placate new residents.

Our city council’s pursuit of density in all its forms is driving up your taxes. More people, cars, structures crammed into the finite space called Alexandria triggers more costly public services. These additional costs are passed on to residents who pay more taxes for an ever-diminishing quality of life.

My solution: Apart from term limits, get rid of the Jim Crow-era at-large election format. Instead, enfranchise neighborhoods to elect someone residing in their community to an expanded city council. The process today of giving the most popular members of one political party the city’s purse strings is not good governance — even if they do mean well.
– Jim Roberts