By Olivia Anderson | [email protected]
Alexandria’s new City Manager James Parajon proposed his FY2023 budget to City Council on Tuesday, with a focus on increasing employee compensation.
The proposed general operating budget is $829.9 million, a 7.7% increase from last year’s $770.7 million operating budget.
Parajon said this amount does not include a change in the property tax rate, which is currently $1.11 per $100 of assessed value, but he did indicate an increase of one or two cents per $100 of assessed value could potentially be added “to fund additional initiatives.” Increased property values means the average taxpayer would pay $445 more in property taxes this year without the one- or two-cent increase.
According to union leaders, the city’s compensation model has lagged behind other jurisdictions for some time, particularly for first responders. As part of the budget proposal, Parajon outlined proposed a 6% pay scale adjustment for firefighters, medics and fire marshals; 5% adjustment for police officers and sheriff deputies; and 4% adjustment for general employees. This does not include annual step increases ranging from 2.3% to 5%.
“[This will] start to move us closer into the market and hopefully above the market, really to help us retain and recruit talented staff that are needed really to conduct activities and achieve the execution of many of the council and the community’s priorities,” Parajon said during a media briefing on Tuesday.
According to Parajon, most of the city’s revenue growth has been related to real estate assessment increases and appreciation. About 35% of the revenue growth is due to the sales tax, he said.
Main priorities in the proposed budget include allocations for stormwater improvements, which would necessitate a stormwater utility fee increase of $14 for the average household, from $280 to $294 per year.
He also presented the city’s 10-year Capital Improvement Program budget, proposed at $2.73 billion. The budget includes $497.8 million for ACPS facilities, such as a new school building for the Minnie Howard campus, transforming ACPS’ new 1705 N. Beauregard St. office into a swing space and renovating two elementary schools.
Additionally, $21 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act went into this year’s budget proposal, specifically allocated toward affordable housing projects and pandemic recovery efforts.
The city manager will virtually present the proposed budget to the public today at 7 p.m., with a budget public hearing planned for March 7.