Taxes

I’m occasionally asked about taxes.  I had one single mother tell me that her taxes have gone up $320 per month in the last three years.  Another resident has told me of suddenly being taxes on unbuildable land adjacent to her property as if it were buildable.  Others in the city have told me that they don’t mind paying taxes, as long as they feel they’re getting the services they’re paying for–right now, they don’t.

To be honest, I don’t know where all the money has been going for the city to have the issues we are facing.  Additionally, the constant tax increases are making the city more and more unaffordable for our seniors on fixed incomes as well as our middle class residents.  I met a 90 year resident today who missed the income cutoff for full deferment because of a 1.2% cost of living adjustment to her pension.  Her fixed income went up less than $1k, costing her $4k.

The problem that we are facing is that we have three big capital expenditures coming up.  First, the combined sewer outfall project.  Because of an old system design, we’ve been occasionally dumping raw sewerage into the Potomac for years.  The state has (rightly) mandated we finally address it.  Second is Potomac Yard Metro station.  Already facing a higher price tag than expected (causing the removal of the Southern entrance the city hid from residents for a year), we’ve lost another $12m that was earmarked  because Dominion power cancelled a project.  Finally, due to years of mismanagement and deferred maintenance along with rising enrollment, we have schools to both build and rehab in the city.  All of this will come with a price tag of more than a billion dollars.

With all of this going on, I cannot promise that taxes won’t go up again (along with some borrowing).  What I *have* pledged to do though, is to look at the budget and try to reign in some of the spending.  It’s hard for me to believe that a city with nearly a billion dollar budget could be in such poor shape.  My theory is that we’re spread too thin, and I’d like to restore our focus on the basics.  (This is not your typical campaign message, but it is my honest assessment of the dire situation we’re now facing.)