Correcting the record on business tax reform in Alexandria

Correcting the record on business tax reform in Alexandria

To the editor:

We are writing in response to your editorial, “Presenting a worthy agenda for city council,” in the September 12 issue.

We applaud the spirit in which the agenda was presented but are concerned that the reader may be left with the misconception that initiatives for improving our business climate are somehow new. On the contrary, the city council has engaged in healthy dialogue with our business community for the last decade — resulting in significant reforms.

The city restructured business taxes in 2005, streamlined City Hall processes for businesses in 2007, scaled back the special-use permit process in 2008 and spent the last six years implementing the recommendations of the mayor’s economic sustainability workgroup, among other efforts.

It appears that the Alexandria Times editorial board was unaware that in June we successfully proposed the creation of a business tax reform task force to examine ways that the city could promote economic growth and foster creative entrepreneurship.

City Manager Rashad Young was asked to select individuals to serve on this task force, and by August, the group had begun working. Chaired by Bruce Johnson, the former acting city manager and budget director, the task force is charged with devising and delineating recommendations and concepts for business tax reform, proposing possible changes to revenue streams and examining

business-friendly incentives.

In addition to Johnson, the task force members are: Jill Erber, owner of Cheesetique; Gregory Leisch, a board member of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership; Laurie MacNamara, a member of the city’s budget and fiscal affairs advisory committee; H. Skip Maginniss, the vice chair for government relations at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce; James L. McNeil, a philanthropist and former business owner; and John Renner, the board chair of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and budget and fiscal affairs advisory committee as well as a board member of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. These individuals represent business owners, entrepreneurs, business development specialists, chamber board members and residents.

By the end of the year, this business tax reform task force will make recommendations promoting business development and increasing commercial tax revenue. Done right, this will lessen the burden on residential taxpayers — an important goal for us and for the city that we were elected to serve.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify these points. We, like the editorial board, are anticipating a busy and productive session dealing with a myriad of issues from bikes to tykes. We have all rolled up our sleeves and are prepared for our future agenda.

– Tim Lovain, Paul Smedberg and Justin Wilson
City Councilors

(Photo/File Photo)