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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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The headline on today’s council story says the council has "issues" with parts of the proposed budget. I guess that’s what you say when you can’t tell whether somebody likes something or not. I don’t think any of them like this budget, but nobody has found the magic money tree that will make it all better yet. Here are some notes from last night:
- Council members unanimously voted to cap the meals tax rebate to restaurant owners at $100 a month. They delayed voting on eliminating the lodging tax rebate, after the owner of the Ramada Inn said his business was already hurting enough without the city taking that away from him (If you ever want to prevent or at least delay something, go to a public hearing and speak against it. The council will not vote on it with you in the room.). Getting rid of the lodging tax rebate would bring the city an estimated $30,000 next year, but that revenue is not in the current budget proposal, so council members are going to continue to think about that as they work on the rest of the budget.
- While that tax adjustment could give the city another $30,000 to work with, it looks like Fredericksburg is going to have to pay an extra $32,900 in debt service for the Stafford Regional Airport. The airport is facing a $235,000 shortfall this year, due in part to lower-than-expected demand for its hangar rentals. Fredericksburg, Stafford and Prince William counties all have a "moral obligation" to help make up that shortfall, because they supported the debt that built part of the airport. You can get some background here, but airport officials say one problem is that Stafford’s airplane tax is too high, and makes the county an unattractive place to keep planes. City Council members are wondering what exactly it is the city gets out of the Stafford Regional Airport that makes it worth being on the hook for the airport’s deficit.
- It’s beginning to seem like it’s the Ward I councilman’s job to start questioning line-item budget detail on the first day of budget deliberations. Marv Dixon did this. Sometimes some of his colleagues would start squirming and looking around the room with frustrated expressions on their faces as he ticked off his list of questions, but it was clear he’d read the entire budget. Last night, new Ward I councilman Brad Ellis submitted a memo that includes several ideas for approaching the budget. They include closing the library for one day a week and reducing trash pickup to one day a week, among other things. Ellis also wants to look at raising the meals and lodging taxes, to try to avoid taking the real estate tax as high as proposed. You can read Ellis’s memo here.