By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
Council agreed on a combination of budget adds and reductions in new spending that will allow the city to maintain the existing real estate tax rate during a work session on Monday night.
Council held its preliminary budget add/delete session last week. Monday’s work session was council’s final chance to discuss potential budget adds and deletes to City Manager Mark Jinks’ proposed $761.1 million operating budget for fiscal year 2020 prior to budget adoption on Wednesday night.
“The good news is we are talking about, I believe, 0.0003 percent of our operating budget at the moment so we should be able to sort this out,” Mayor Justin Wilson said at the start of the session.
The proposed additions to the FY2020 budget totaled about $838,000. However, since the city’s revenue in the proposed budget will go up by about $595,000 from revenue re-estimates, a prisoner agreement from the U.S. District Court of D.C. and the residential refuse collection fee, council only had to find about $243,000 in “cuts,” which this year are actually just reductions in the additions.
Throughout the add/delete process, councilors have proposed various combinations of cuts that would equal that $243,000. Some of the most debated areas of the budget add-ons have been funding for a C-PACE startup contingency, early childhood capacity expansion, SNAP program expansion, lights along King Street and an additional $100,000 for Alexandria City Public Schools.
Council’s final agreed-upon reductions in the add-ons involved zeroing out the proposed $20,000 for Environmental Action Plan education and outreach implementation, as well as the proposed $60,000 for an additional equity city staff member.
Council ended up granting all of the proposed $200,000 for early childhood capacity expansion. The funding will provide resources to reduce wait times to access services in the city’s early childhood programs, according to the proposal.
Of the $100,000 in additional funding requested by ACPS, council granted $77,605. Jinks’ budget already fully funds Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings’ original request of $232.3 million.
Council chose to put $75,000 toward the recommended $125,000 for startup costs of C-PACE, a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program in Alexandria, and $100,000 toward the proposed $150,000 for the Family Unit Due Process Universal Representation Access Program, an inclusivity-based program that will reduce the negative impact of child and family separation policies, according to the proposal.
Council granted $17,400 of the proposed $34,800 toward keeping the King Street tree lights up longer than five months of the year.
Council funded $62,600 of the $86,260 proposed for “SNAP outreach and double-dollar SNAP dollar program expansion.” The funding will allow staff to develop a program to expand SNAP dollar acceptance to farmers’ markets throughout the city, as well as build awareness about the program.
Because council was able to balance the budget, the real estate tax rate will not increase from $1.13 per $100 of assessed value for the second year in a row.
A summary of Monday’s final add/delete session is available online at www.alexandriava.gov/109598. Council’s budget adoption meeting took place Wednesday evening after press time. A full overview of the adopted FY2020 budget will appear in next week’s Times.