Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Council Races: What do Girvan and Tomzak have in common?

They both know how to dodge a question.

At the candidates forum the University of Mary Washington held tonight, both mayoral candidates were asked this question by WFVA anchor Ted Schubel:

When council gets around to deciding on a tax rate for the budget, what tax rate would you support?

Tomzak ran out his time talking about unfunded mandates, big mandated projects like the courthouse, jail and wastewater treatment plant, and the challenge of competing with Northern Virginia localities on employee pay.

"We are going to be paying big-city prices for our core services, and it’s going to be very difficult," he said. "We’re going to have to have good, solid leadership, business development to pay for our core services."

Girvan got up, asked for the question to be repeated, hinted that the mayor had dodged the question and then dodged the question herself.

She said she and another council member asked the city manager to show them a budget with no tax increase, and that, as was discussed at the last council work session, there are some "eye-openers" in that proposal, including closing City Hall for a week and cutting the schools more deeply.

"I’m not sure those are the only choices, and we’re still looking at options," she said, adding that she wanted to reform outside agency funding, which makes up a small percentage of the budget "to possibly look at things like grant writing for these agencies so that we’re not taking this out of general fund revenue. The point is to get the best value for city residents at the lowest cost."

Council members are running out of time to look at options, and the business development Tomzak talks about isn’t going to help with the budget at hand now, which is what Schubel was asking about. Maybe they’ll make some progress on this front at tomorrow’s budget work session.

Look for more on tonight’s debate in Tuesday’s print edition of The Free Lance-Star.