By Jonathan Krall, Alexandria (File photo)
To the editor:
Communities all over the United States, including Alexandria, have seemingly caved in to the fearful, Tea Party drumbeat of lower debt, lower taxes and relentless budget cuts. The result? They balance their budgets on the backs of the poor, with regressive fees instead of sensible taxation. The fees that are tacked onto every traffic ticket are an example. They hit the poor harder than the wealthy and are nothing to be proud of.
In August, City Councilor Justin Wilson spoke up, in these pages, to rebut the idea that our debt is unusually high. City Councilor Tim Lovain also spoke up against fear and in favor of reason. According to Wilson, our debt is 1.3 percent of our taxable real estate base, a number that is lower than any “other jurisdiction in Northern Virginia.”
In response, a friend of mine told me that our debt service is about 10 percent of our operating budget, a number that is in line with, rather than universally lower than, our neighboring jurisdictions. So what’s the story? Is our debt low or not?
These numbers tell us that our debt is not only much lower than our real estate base can support, but our entire budget is as well. Either we have unusually high real estate values or an unusually small budget. This is good news for wealthy people and conservatives, but may not be the best thing for the long-term health of Alexandria.
Our economy is good and getting better. We must invest in the future before the next recession hits. That’s what responsible people do.
As always, an election is an opportunity for us to do better. Progressives would do well to identify and support only those few candidates who are willing to stand up against the Tea Partiers for the future of our great city.