By Devin Perry, Alexandria (File photo)
To the editor:
A 3-cent property tax hike unanimously approved by city council is not the governing body’s most egregious error. While I believe most residents will be able to afford the on-average $271 — when considering the tax increase and rise in real estate assessments — in extra taxes on their condo or home, it is city council’s cowardice that is most alarming.
Consider the following: Last budget cycle, with an election approaching, city council decided not to raise property taxes. Fast forward one year later and almost the same exact council, re-elected by residents, decided Alexandria’s infrastructure was in dire need of repair and raised property taxes by 3-cents.
Is it possible that the city’s roads, government buildings and sidewalks fell into such disrepair during the last 12 months that a drastic infusion of taxpayer money is required to enact improvements? Or is it more likely that city councilors, up for re-election in 2015, decided to kick the can down the road last year and waited until their jobs were secure for another 36 months before springing a tax hike on city residents?
Given council’s actions since last year’s election, I believe the latter is probable. The property tax hike is one in a long line of self-serving decision the city council has made since securing another three years in office. Back in December, re-elected City Councilor Paul Smedberg proposed a pay raise for himself and his fellow councilors. Smedberg showed absolutely no shame in his proposal, offering it up during the city council’s first post-election session.
Two months later, council was involved in a scuffle with the Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority over the Ramsey Homes site. Although ARHA and city council eventually worked out their differences, 15 deplorable units of public housing continue to host some of Alexandria’s most vulnerable residents with no end in sight.
And if council was playing baseball, strike three would have been called last week with its unanimous approval of raising property taxes. I imagine that each city councilor and Mayor Allison Silberberg hope residents simply forget their missteps when they head to the polls in November 2018. But I can tell you one thing: this elephant never forgets.