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Special Public Hearing Meeting
March 10, 2010
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Present: Mayor William D. Euille, Vice Mayor Kerry J. Donley, Members of Council Frank H. Fannon, Alicia Hughes, K. Rob Krupicka
(who arrived at 5:43 p.m.)
and Redella S. Pepper.
Absent: Member of Council Paul C. Smedberg.
Also Present: Mr. Hartmann, City Manager; Mr. Banks, City Attorney; Ms. Evans, Deputy City Manager; Mr. Jinks, Deputy City Manager; Mr. Castrilli, Communications Director, City Manager's Office; Mr. Gates, Assistant City Manager; Mr. Baier, Director, Transportation and Environmental Services; Mr. Trobridge, Director, Office of Information Technology; Sheriff Lawhorne; Ms. Niebauer, Director, Office of Human Rights; Ms. Boyd, Director, Citizen Assistance; Mr. Johnson, Chief Financial Officer; Mr. Routt, Office of Management and Budget; Mr. Doku, Office of Management and Budget; Mr. Eisinger, Office of Management and Budget; Mr. Elliott, Office of Management and Budget; Mr. Schultz, Office of Management and Budget; Mr. Stewart, Office of Management and Budget; Mr. Touhill, Office of Management and Budget; Police Captain Ogden; and Mr. Lloyd.
Recorded by: Jacqueline M. Henderson, City Clerk and Clerk of Council.
1. Calling the Roll.
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Euille, and the City Clerk called the roll; all the members of Council were present, with the exception of Councilman Smedberg, who was absent. (Councilman Krupicka arrived at 5:43 p.m.)
2. Public Hearing on the City Manager's Proposed Annual
(Including Schools) and the Proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for FY 2011-2020 (including the School CIP.) Adoption is Scheduled for Monday, May 3, 2010.
A public hearing on the ordinance establishing the real property tax rate will be held on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.
The following persons participated in the public hearing on the FY 2011 Budget and CIP:
1. Herb Cooper-Levy, 1527 Oronoco Street, representing Housing Action and the Alexandria Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, said the budget decreases the Housing budget by almost $680,000, which is a 30 percent cut and the largest part is over $500,000 as a dedication of the real estate tax for affordable housing incentives and initiatives. Mr. Cooper-Levy said the City is about to begin a housing master planning process. He said it is wonderful that the City makes a wide range of social services available, but at the end of the day, it needs to provide affordable places for people to live. He said that over 10,000 affordable housing units have disappeared because of the increase of rents and condominium conversions, it has 1,000 units of non-resolution 830 housing, formally federally subsidized housing that is in danger of losing its subsidy over the next eight years. The City needs resources set aside when developments come up so the City can provide something to preserve those key units. Mr. Cooper-Levy said they have to preserve all of the 3,400 units that currently serve people with lower incomes.
, 930 N. Henry Street, executive director, Carpenters Shelter and for Housing Action, said in 2000 they were talking no net loss in affordable housing and in eight years it had a net loss of 8,000 affordable non-subsidized units. Ms. Becker asked Council to consider restoring the true penny of dedicated real estate tax to create new affordable housing units.
3. John Smucker, 108 N. Quaker Lane, said he and his wife will pay their taxes, which is about $10,000 and said he is willing to go to jail if Council does not provide adequate services for people in the City who do not have enough money to live in the City. He said he speaks on behalf of the garbagemen and animal policeman, who rescued their dog, and the Fire and Police departments, who are first responders, aging for senior people, for the Seminary Hill Association with respect to BRAC who will experience the worst traffic jam ever experienced, the Muslims who worship at Emmanual Church on the Hill, and the quick guide which has the City of Alexandria emergency call list, which is a very important thing.
4. Russell Adams, 3008 Mosby Street, said page seven of the budget says that while Alexandria families will have their taxes go up under this budget, every bank incorporation with property in the City will see their property tax go down. Mr. Adams said 66 percent of Alexandria working families will pay $44 million more tax so 100 percent of commercial real estate developers and speculators will pay $44 million less taxes. He said Council should not hide behind a property assessment, as they are guesses and not facts. The guesses are produced by computer models and because of the economic blizzard they are in, they have established an unfair under-assessment of commercial property.
5. Charlotte Hall, 205 The Strand, chairman, First Night Alexandria, said the Board of Directors of First Night encourage Council to restore the additional $10,000 that was cut from the First Night Alexandria funding. She said they were prepared for a five percent reduction in 2010 based on discussions with City staff, which would have been $2,500. She said that over the past nine years, First Night Alexandria has returned $3.8 million to Alexandria businesses for goods, services and fees. She said the average amount of money people spent, other than the purchase of their badges, was $45 per person on New Year's Eve and 80 percent of the survey respondents said they would not have come to Alexandria on New Year's Eve if it weren't for First Night Alexandria. She said First Night is fueled by one staff person who is contracted and one part-time seasonal staff person for December only and a large number of volunteers. Ms. Hall said they cannot expect to make-up $10,000 from corporate contributions.
, 801 N. Fairfax Street, president/CEO, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber urges Council to act in a manner that is fair and equitable to all the City's constituents, including Alexandria businesses. A strong, viable business community is essential to the City's success and they applaud the City Manager's intention to maintain its funding for the economic development partners, the AEDP, the ACVA and the SBDC. The organizations generate far more funding for the City than they cost to operate. Given the City's reliance on tourism, they encourage Council to continue funding for the King Street trolley. Ms. Leone said funding options are being considered in the budget that cause concern to the business community and they appear counter-productive to the City's goal to stimulate and foster economic development. The proposed three cent commercial tax add-on would raise $2.7 million from commercial properties. In contrast, a one cent tax increases for residential and commercial properties will yield a $3 million increase in revenue, which would bring in another $300,000 more and the funds raised from an across the board tax would be available to the general fund versus only to transportation. Ms. Leone said the stormwater utility fee is another concern, introduced as a service fee with the possibility of increasing every year with no restrictions and will be significantly greater for the commercial businesses, and the Chamber opposes the creation of the additional fee without further information and public discourse about the implementation and administration of the plan. Ms. Leone congratulated Council for its increased commitment to public education and said the Chamber urges Council to focus on the public education, public safety, economic development and fair, equitable and uniform tax rates.
, 1106 Tuckahoe Lane, chair, Commission on Aging, called attention to the Office on Aging and Adult Services budget and said while they don't like the proposed cuts, they believe they have been applied fairly and are aware of the difficulties they have faced but ask that Council do everything possible to preserve services to their most vulnerable older citizens. Mr. Harris said transportation is crucial to the well being of older adults and it's only prudent to maintain the bus driver position and fill it when they can. He said a particular concern is the companion services program, as care services are necessary for elderly people to stay in their own homes. The number of elderly people are rapidly increasing and the need for care service will only increase, not decrease. The budget has cut these services by $120,000, and further cuts could be very harmful. Mr. Harris said he represents the Commission on Aging on the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and he asked Council to not forget the affordable housing needs of their elderly citizens and all citizens with low and moderate incomes.
8. Fay Slotnick, 311 Second Street, director, Parent Leadership Training Institute and a member of the Alexandria Council of Human Service Organizations, said the PLTI is exclusively concerned with the welfare of children and families and provides a safety net for the safety net organizations by training tomorrow's leaders. Ms. Slotnick said the board cares about human services provided by the City's non-profit community and they have authorized her to ask Council to please return the Alexandria Fund for Human Service to the 2009 level. She said the cost would be $1.50 per year per taxpaying household. She said one of their students is doing her community project on increasing employment for those in public housing and what better way to end homelessness. Ms. Slotnick said some of their students, in addition to serving on boards and commissions, are also working to mentor and perform wonderful service to the community. She asked Council to please restore to the 2009 level the Alexandria Fund for Human Services.
, 10455 White Granite Drive, Oakton, representing Northern Virginia Family Services, said she knows Council cherishes the children of Alexandria as evidenced by its continued support for programs devoted to their health and well being. As a member of the Advisory Council for Healthy Families that is dedicated to serving vulnerable families with young children, she was grateful that the budget designates level funding for the Alexandria Fund for Human Services for children and youth in 2011. She said a loving attachment between parent and child is a fundamental building block for a happy and healthy childhood and of society and Healthy Families Alexandria helps parents at risk for child abuse and neglect to overcome the odds stacked against them and to become the best parents they can be. She asked Council to hold to the proposed budget and keep level funding for the children's youth and community partnership funds.
, 1705 Fern Street, said she is speaking as executive director of SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) of Northern Virginia, as a member of the Alexandria Council of Human Service Organizations and chair of the new education and advocacy committee, and as a 28-year resident of Alexandria, and she expressed appreciation on behalf of the Alexandria Council of Human Service Organizations for the City Manager's response to request for alterations to the fund for human services, specifically moving up the date of notification a month earlier to non-profits about the City's grant awards for needed services now lets the organizations know May 30 for its fiscal year that starts July 1. Ms. Charles said they appreciate Council's consideration of going back to a two-year funding cycle. She said that last year, SCAN served 127 abused and neglected children. SCAN also provides support and services to parents through their parenting classes and educational parent support groups. She said SCAN pieces together a variety of funding to make the classes and support groups available for any parent seeking them and/or are required to take them. Ms. Charles said that in this time of extremely high human need, because of difficult financial times for many, she saw the need for an increase in taxes to keep the balance they have been known for. She asked Council to carefully consider the diverse human needs that have increased.
, Wakefield Chapel Road, representing Northern Virginia Community College Board, said they accept 20 percent of T.C. Williams graduating class, serve 4,500 area residents, another 2,500 Alexandria residents in their workforce training program and 100 City high school students are dual enrolled at NOVA and T.C. to get a jump on college education. Mr. Kauffman said each year Alexandria graciously provides local capital match dollars, and each dollar the City commits returns an average $29 from the State. Mr. Kauffman said the local dollars are running out, and the decade old formula of $1.00 per capita will no longer be adequate, and since last October, they have been working with city managers and county executives to consider a 25 cent increase. Seven of the nine chief administrative officers have already included the increase in their budgets, but the City's budget has the commitment at last year's rate, bringing the commitment to below $1.00 per capita because of population growth. He asked Council to support the increase. He said NOVA needs another $36,000 commitment from the City to be positioned to leverage a $45 million project on the Alexandria campus.
, 1215 Gibbon Street, said she serves on the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, as a board member of RPJ Housing and is a member of Housing Action, but said she is representing herself in her statement. Ms. L'Heureux said there is a significant subsection of the community who are priced out of living in the City, and it is those that are priced out that give Alexandria its diversity, not only in terms of race, but also in terms of age, gender, and chosen professional occupation. She said without the affordable rental housing she has, she would not several years later be putting down roots and be in the process of buying her first home. She said she and others have benefitted from policies the City has put into place to preserve affordable housing, and she was upset to see the proposed budget mandates a 30 percent cut in the Office of Housing budget. She asked Council to reduce the cut, as it is unreasonable, especially given the tremendous loss of affordable housing in the last decade and tough economic times that make affordable housing an even more urgent need. She asked Council to reinstate the money from the real estate tax that is dedicated to creating affordable housing.
13. Judy Guse-Noritake, 605 Prince Street, chair of the Park and Recreation Commission, said she wanted to speak about the intersection of the City and the Schools budget, and in year's past, they had about $7 million in the budget to do Charles Houston and Patrick Henry. Charles Houston was done, and now it is anticipating a new school at Patrick Henry, but they cannot short-change the recreational facilities that need to go with that. Ms. Guse-Noritake said she heard of building on top of the existing ballfields, where 17 of their 22 lacrosse teams practice, that the existing school would not be torn down to replace the field, it is a recreational facility that serves senior citizens and has the highest number of after-school children and need for more. She said the Park and Recreation Commission, at its recent retreat, had as its highest priority its joint planning with the schools to produce facilities that are affordable, that meet the need and that don't leave anything out. She said the new T.C. Williams is great, but they were supposed to do an expansion of Chinquapin and they have a huge need for additional swimming facilities, and they aren't going to get around to that for a long time. She said that every time it expands a school, it needs to think about the recreational part of creating the center of the community.
14. Sherry Brown, 1600 Prince Street, #603, representing the Alexandria Arts Forum, thanked all the City employees who worked tirelessly and above and beyond normal duties to handle the snow storms. She thanked Council for creating the Office of the Arts, as funding it wasn't easy, but they need it if they are going to compete successfully with surrounding jurisdictions. Ms. Brown said she was glad to see the budget continues the same level of investment and grants to the arts. She said it has been determined that for the less than $218,000 the City invested in non-profit arts, Alexandria's overall economy benefitted by more than $30 million, an additional $3 million plus thrown back into the City treasury, a return on investment of $14.12 for every dollar invested. She said the Alexandria Performing Arts Association helped pull off a concert for the delegation from the City's Sister City, they sponsor numerous concert performance series, and are treating 200 Alexandria school children and family members to a National Symphony Orchestra concert focusing on music students who don't normally attend the Kennedy Center. Their grant of just over $8,800 would have put over $124,000 back into the City's budget, which would have been more than enough to underwrite the program for preventive/early intervention for children, families and adults who exhibit at-risk behavior, and the rest, she hoped, went into the School budget.
15. Lisa Miller, no address given, suggested that Council cut taxes even further than what it is doing. She said the City incurs Federal tax liability on a Federal level by accepting stimulus money, which impacts business owners and individuals liability, hence limiting their options and ability to buy art, their ability to provide children with special education, and the ability to be self-reliant. Over the past ten years, she said, they have gone from paying cash for things to borrowing for things, and that has made them unaffordable, which is why it has an affordable housing crisis. She said health care is out of control because they don't set it in a competitive market where people can go to a price point and convenience of their choosing when they are subject to public programs. Ms. Miller suggested reducing the budget by at least the proportion that it borrowed on the Federal level, that it eliminate affordable housing, because by eliminating the affordable housing tax, it makes housing more affordable. She said for every need she heard here today, she has a solution in the private sector. She said if they want to help each other, they should go visit a single parent, do financial planning, and visit the elderly and give them a ride to the grocery store.
, 5001 Seminary Road, asked what happened to the efficiency audit from last summer, what in the budget reflects budget gaps and needs for change. She said the City should run like a business. She asked why has the budget increased so much this year when the City has eliminated 67 positions and 50 positions have remained vacant for the past year or so, yet no one is really losing their job, as the employees are just moved from one position to another. Ms. Fisher asked why there are many staff administrators making over $100,000 a year and she asked if they deserve the high salary. She asked why hasn't the City Manager written a policy regarding the citizens ability to obtain one free copy of a report from various departments. She said there are wants and needs, and the needs are what the new budget is all about.
17. Mary Craige, 6135 Edsall Road, spoke about pay and compensation for City employees, noting that she is a division chief with the Police Department and has over 40 employees who work within her division. Ms. Craige appealed for merit raises for FY 2011. She said the employees market rate adjustments and merit raises have totalled 12 percent below the real cost of living in the Metropolitan Washington area since 2002. Ms. Craige said that for the past three years, employees have taken home smaller paychecks due to the lack of market rate adjustments, merits and the increase in health care costs, and although they are taking home less money, they continue to provide critical functions for residents and business owners. She said the workload for employees still exist because services and programs for residents, business owners and visitors are still in high demand. She said it is difficult to stay innovative and cutting edge in the technology field when they can't attract highly qualified applicants because the pay isn't competitive. She asked Council to grant Alexandria employees their merit raises this year.
, 1 E. Luray Avenue, speaking on behalf of the Homeless Services Coordinating Committee, and as a member of the Alexandria Council of Human Service Organization, as well as executive director, Friends of Guest House, disagreed with Ms. Miller, as she wished she could believe that if there were no affordable housing subsidies, that all of the kind and generous landlords in the community would make rent affordable to the people she serves, but she has never seen that happen. Ms. Galloway spoke to the proposed housing funding cuts in the budget, and said explained what the HSCC does for the community. Ms. Galloway said the need for more affordable housing in the City is a long-standing concern and has gained much attention, and they have been losing ground in maintaining the existing stock of affordable housing instead of adding to the stock of affordable housing units. She noted that in 2008, the interim recommendations to Council from the affordable housing initiatives workgroup stated the loss of affordable housing is a clear and present threat to the City's economic and racial and ethnic diversity. Ms. Galloway said that between 2000 and 2008, they lost more than 10,000 non-subsidized affordable rental housing units because of increases in rents, and over the next five years, 1,000 public assisted units face potential loss. She said a 30 percent decrease in the budget is huge.
, 116 W. Maple Street, chair, Alexandria Library Board, but said she is speaking as an individual because one of the issues, the green roof for the Burke Library, has not been voted on by the Library Board. She spoke to the cuts the library system has taken in 2009 and 2010 and the proposed cuts for 2011. She noted the cuts the library system has done to reduce the budget. She said that in July, the library will cut its hours by opening later and closing earlier, and at the same time, library usage has increased in the last two years by 15 percent. Ms. Koopman said the Library Board was surprised that the City authorized $172,000 from the 2010 capital budget to match a Federal grant to put a new green roof on the Burke Library, which is extraordinary in that the roof is 13 years old, has never leaked, and has a useful life of 25 years. She said the project was ill-conceived and was driven by the availability of matching Federal funds and a desire to enhance the City's reputation as a green community. She said Council approved the grant proposal last fall, but it is not clear that all parties were aware of the tremendous cost, understood that a perfectly good roof would be demolished, and that major structural work would be required. Ms. Koopman said the library staff and board were never consulted before the proposal was approved by Council. She asked to transfer the capital budget funds for the green roof to the library's operating system, as it will allow the system to provide services to the people of Alexandria. If the $173,000 were transferred, it would allow the libraries to retain their current schedules.
Vice Mayor Donley asked staff to prepare a budget memo that outlines the expenditure of funds relative to the roof and explaining the availability of Federal funds.
20. Patricia Arnaudo, 413 Fairfax Street, spoke about affordable housing and said she supports the position that affordable housing cannot be reduced by 30 percent. With 10,000 units lost in the last decade, that is unconscionable, particularly if the goal is to have a City that supports all income levels. She suggested that it look at land banking and how to write down the cost of land and building affordable housing. It should look at how to expand elderly facilities. She said it should look at job strategies for those in subsidized housing. Ms. Arnaudo said Chatham Square is another example of using mixed income and creative ways and the Eisenhower Metro stop has some interesting examples, and are all intervention strategies, and she suggested that the budget show the Community Development Block Grant Money and the increase in Home Money.
21. James McCall, 537 S. Fairfax Street, member of the Alexandria Archaeological Commission, thanked the City and Council for its past forethought in setting up Alexandria's archaeology as a pioneer institution for the City and a model for many other jurisdictions. Mr. McCall said that in the current budget, there is a proposed cut of $7,400 and $3,500 of that is to eliminate a part-time position for the museum on Sunday, and the other $3,900 is for non-personnel funding. She said the $3,500 for the four hours on Sunday accounts for nearly 20 percent of the visitors to the museum, so it goes a long way. Mr. McCall said the $3,900 for non-personnel will undermine their ability to help continue to support the activities of Freedman's Cemetery, Fort Ward and a number of other things.
, 501 Slaters Lane, Apt. 201, spoke in support of the continuation of the DASH bus AT-4, and she said the bus is her way to the world, using it to get to the Braddock Metro, explaining how she uses it and Metro to go to Potomac Yard. She said it is her chariot and lots of other peoples chariot. She also gave kudos to the people who put up the waiting stations on Slaters Lane.
, 1420 W. Abington Drive, said her main concern with the budget is that it keep in mind people who live in the City, work in the City and who visit the City, and the safety where they live, work and travel, and those who protect and rescue them should have adequate compensation - the Fire, Police and EMS, who are at their best when others are at their worst. Ms. Lee said they cannot maintain their level of professionalism if they are worried about their families. Ms. Lee said they need all of their transit service. They need safe equipment, safe trains and safe buses. She said there should be some stimulus money to replace the DASH buses. She said they need to make sure that WMATA does what it needs to do to stay safe. They also need fair fares, as the fares are going up. Ms. Lee said they need buses at night, and she said the DASH drivers need to be compensated.
, 408 S. Royal Street, highlighted the need to provide the local DASH bus system with consistent financial backing. She said they have a top-notch qualitative organization that is readily apparent to any taxpayer who spends any real time commuting. She said the drivers are helpful and courteous. Ms. MacNab said that unlike schools or senior services or health care systems, people take the existence of public transportation for granted. She asked why a decision was made last year to hold $200,000 in transit money on contingent reserves for over six months and then move it back over to DASH this January. She said if they are going to make a serious attempt at meeting current and new challenges, including the transit needs of the many BRAC commuters, they will want to effectively utilize the new DASH facility to create steady expansion and improve bus service, keeping buses clean and safe, increasing bus frequencies, planning new across town routes and beefing up existing schedules. She said DASH can't exist on bus fumes and inconsistent promises of support. She said she didn't know if the idea of a commercial add-on tax for transportation projects is viable, but they need to be open to looking at new ideas.
25. Robert MacNab, 408 S. Royal Street, said they are fortunate to have DASH and they get the most out of the money that they get. He said the FY 2011 budget will result in a $200,000 reduction and it will see some cuts and he saw from the papers that Metro is in a crisis and heard that the Metro bus 29 will be reduced, 10a and yellow line
service coming through Alexandria, so there will be a storm of service reductions. He said he commutes on DASH and Metro every day and saw a slow trend of service reductions year after year, and it is becoming a City where it is very hard to get along without a car. He asked Council to keep transit high among its priorities.
, 418 Queen Street, said public transportation is one of the City's core services, and WMATA provides service that connects Alexandria with the region, and DASH provides complimentary service that feeds into Metro and makes possible local mobility and connectivity. She said the City Manager's budget keeps funding for DASH flat, which is a big improvement from discussions last month that DASH would be cut $600,000, but even a flat budget forces service cuts. She said the DASH budget was cut last year by over $500,000 and $200,000 was added back in contingent reserves. She said fares will go up 20 percent and it will eliminate off-peak service on the AT-4. Ms. Kaplan suggested they put the money the DASH needs to continue to running the AT-4 on weekdays in contingent reserves, and if ridership grows, DASH will not need the full amount. If revenues do not increase, the portion of monies DASH needs could be released mid-year. She asked Council to give Metro the money it needs to maintain current service and the systems safety and reliability. She said she would support raising the tax rate to provide additional subsidy to Metro if that is what is needed to avoid the service cuts that have been proposed.
27. Virginia Arnold, 316 N. Columbus Street, volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program, said they get a lot of bang for the buck from the Meals on Wheels program, which is administered by Senior Services, and they receive partial funding for it from the City's Office of Aging and Adult Services. She said it is cost-effective, as it is powered by hundreds of volunteers, and she said she hoped the Meals on Wheels program would still be funded at a level that will be around when she and Council need it.
, 401 Wilkes Street, said that for the last ten years, rapidly rising assessments have fueled a real estate bubble creating a flow of money the City found myriad ways to spend. The population increased 12 percent from 2000 to 2009, and population growth can serve as a rough benchmark for growth in City services, incomes and expenses. Mr. Smith said that after adjusting for inflation, he found that general property taxes are up 45 percent, four times faster than population growth, City expenditures are almost five times faster than population growth, education is up four times population growth and serving slightly fewer students. Mr. Smith said he didn't think they were four times better off than it was in 2000. He said for every 1,000 residents, they have over 30 City employees, and the ratio for Virginia State government is 14 employees per thousand residents, and nationwide it is about 17 per thousand. He said if the payroll was in the same relationship to revenues as Fairfax and Arlington Counties, it would save $85 million, so the City is way over-staffed. He also spoke to unfunded pension liabilities, which in 2008 was over one-half of the City's governments assets and one-quarter of the City's revenue, which are dangerously high. He said the City needs to be far more business friendly to grow the commercial sector. Mr. Smith asked citizens to rise above any narrow or special interest they may advocate or support.
29. Jim Craige, 6135 Edsall Road, City employee, spoke of public safety promotions being limited to the agency they work in, so extra care and consideration is needed for public safety employees, as they are locked into the organization they work for. Mr. Craige said the City is reducing his retirement, as it takes into account the last four years of employment. He said they need to stop with gimmicks and look at paying their employees fairly, as they are losing the best and brightest and they need to have fair and competitive pay. Mr. Craige said Council should raise its taxes to keep with the peers in the region and pay the employees fairly.
, 418 Queen Street, said Metro is in crisis and getting the system back on solid footing needs to be one of the highest priorities in the region. To close next year's $189 million budget gap, WMATA has proposed to raise fares between 15 to 28 percent on rail, bus and metro access, and after they are raised, Metro will still have to cut $32 million in service. It might say goodbye to the yellow line train between King Street and Fort Totten
after 9 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends. Metrorail service on nights and weekends at King Street and Braddock Road station could be cut in half, and the system would open later in the evening. The 29 Metro bus route will no longer serve most of Duke Street. After service gets cut, there is $40 million left, which is yet to be identified. Mr. Kaplan said the jurisdictions funding WMATA should partner with riders and make up the portion of the budget gap being covered by service cuts and with increased subsidy, and Alexandria's share would be $2.62 million.
31. Keith Rembert, 107 S. West Street, with the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, said one of the things he observed at the Black History Museum is that the staff is spread quite thin. There are currently three professional paid staff members at the Museum, and the curator position was proposed to be cut and that was filled by Lillian Patterson. He asked Council to retain the position but not fund it, as there are many things the Black History Museum can do for the community, and one of the processes is for a museum accreditation, and that process will require the curator staff or the curator, director or secretary to work very hard to research and gather documentation to help support the accreditation, and that curator role is vital to ensure they can maintain operating the museum but the important reputation Alexandria has gained over the years for prioritizing its history.
32. Bill Schreiner, 207 N. Royal Street, president, Friends of Fort Ward, urged Council to reject the proposal to eliminate a 20 hour per week museum technician position at the Fort Ward Museum, which follows a similar cut in last year's budget, so if implemented, it would mean staffing levels have been sliced by 28 percent over two fiscal years. He said the first challenge is interpreting the Freedmen's community that lived around Fort Ward from the end of the Civil War until the construction of the park in the 1960's. The second headwind is the start of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War next year. He said in two years, museum staffing levels will decrease from 3.6 fte's to 2.6 fte's. Mr. Schreiner asked Council to reject the proposed cut on page 17-6 of the budget.
, 389 Livermore Lane, spoke to the stormwater fees, noting that the fees were proposed for common areas of communities such as Cameron Station and that is now off the table. He said if it returns to the table, he would hope the public would have an opportunity to comment on it at that time. Mr. Buch said the average homeowner is projected to pay roughly $20 a year, and if he pays $4,000 a year in property taxes, why not simply increase his tax rate by one half of one percent and collect the $20 that way. He said it appears the City has chosen a course that will expand the government bureaucracy, and they deserve to clearly understand what the development of the new bureaucracy will cost and he would like to see that compared to the cost of changing the tax rates from 97 cents to 97.5 cents.
, 17 W. Oak Street, speaking for ACT for Alexandria, said ACT takes seriously its role as convenor of and collaborator with other organizations in the City on behalf of youth and families. Mr. Porter said the work in the ever growing public/private non-profit partnering arena is both noteworthy and forward thinking. He commended the City for its continued support of the non-profit sector of the community, which is a true understanding Council has of the level of assistance needed by the citizens. He said the decrease last year, coupled with the increase in need, is making it extremely difficult for the organizations addressing basic human needs to keep up with the demand, and the support for human services is more critical now than at any time in his memory. He encouraged serious consideration to restoring human services funding to the FY 2009 level. If it requires a tax increase, he encouraged Council to do that.
, 1415 Oronoco Street, executive director, Coalition for Smarter Growth and representing Transit First! Coalition, said they have an amazing high quality of services and employees from schools, police fire, libraries and transit. Mr. Schwartz said he hoped they would restore the 30 percent cut to affordable housing. He said for Transit First! Coalition, they are fighting hard to support transit and had mobilized support for Metro in the last budget debate and gained support for a fare increase. He said the Huntington Metro cut is significant for Alexandria and will lead to increases in traffic. He said people will lose their jobs if they don't have transit, and transit is critical to economic development. Mr. Schwartz said they promise to fight at all levels of government for increased transit to back them up and they appreciate Council advertising a higher tax rate.
36. Joyce Woodson, 1407 Wayne Street, said more people than ever are out of work and those still working are suffering high anxiety over job security, salary is stagnant but expenses aren't, and everyone has watched their nest egg disappear. She said the State and Federal government are limiting funding to municipalities, and the only things not diminishing are needs. Municipalities are forced to bear the enormous burden but cannot be everything to everyone. Ms. Woodson said Council must consider those who cannot be in the Chambers because they have no means to get here, or if they take time off from work will not be paid or may be risking their very job because they took the time off. The Alexandria Fund for Human Services is a tool designed to augment municipal services by leveraging municipal funding with private funding through non-profits. She recommended that when Council has finished wrangling over the budget and fully satisfied themselves that they have nipped and tucked as much as possible, she asked Council to consider restoring the Alexandria Fund for Human Services to its 2009 level. She said the cost to do it is less than one-tenth of one cent added to the final rate.
37. Kamille Pullara, Marina Towers, said she is a 2008 graduate of the children's Parent Leadership Training Institute program where her grandmother was class speaker. Miss Pullara said her grandmother is her role model and has learned so many things at PLTI that she is now selected at school as peer mediator for a national program and will empower students to peaceful solving of their own disputes.
38. Doris Stanley, 501 Slaters Lane, #821, said she was a graduating member of the Parent Leadership Training Institute from 2008 and also serves on the board of the Alexandria Community Services Board and has been in Alexandria for 25 years. She said she is a 62 year old grandmother raising three grandchildren alone and has learned to find her voice as a result of the PLTI and is going into the community and giving back. She said she appreciated any consideration Council could do for the PLTI.
, 115-D S. Saint Asaph Street, said Alexandria taxpayers are being asked to accept a substantial tax increase on devalued properties for reduced services in the midst of the worst recession in 80 years, and this is what the City Manager calls status quo. The schools have ranked last in the country in terms of bang for the buck and they are now paying more than $18,000 per student per year to attend a $100 million plus high school. The debt service is currently $37.1 million and in less than nine years it will go up to $68 million. He said the number of full-time employees of the City has grown by 9.8 percent and it has to stop and there have to be real reductions in City staff instead of just eliminating empty positions. Spending on Planning and Zoning has grown by over 203 percent over the last ten years. He said the City has allocated $3 million in assets toward a
terribly designed program will assist 12 people
per year and some day if the program opens, ten City employees will oversee 12 very troubled people and that is not a model of efficiency. Mr. Miller said budget cuts should focus on waste and efficiency in non-productive bureaucratic exercises. If they provide modest pay cuts for City employees making more than $100,000, they will save between $300,000 to $1.4 or 5 million a year and it would impact 246 employees. If they reduce the Planning and Zoning Department to 2000 staffing levels, it will save $2 million a year.
Mary Ann Weber
, 720 N. St. Asaph Street, chair, Alexandria Community Services Board, expressed the Board's support for the City Manager's proposed budget and gratitude for assistance in advocating on their behalf regarding State budget reductions. While the Board is slated for City reductions of $325,000 for FY 2011, the reduction is a more moderate reduction compared to FY 2010. The budget includes their plans to address a decrease of $265,000 in State general fund revenue, bringing the total reduction to $591,000. She said the Board has already increased productivity standards, eliminated non-essential positions and reduced capacity in lower priority and administrative programs. With $2.15 million in reductions between FY 2008 and FY 2011, any additional reduction requires significant service reductions to Alexandria's most vulnerable residents. Ms. Weber said they are seeing an increase in demand for services when there is a decreased capacity in local non-profits. Ms. Weber expressed appreciation for their assistance in advocating for restoration of proposed cuts in the State House and Senate, which may result in the loss of another $400,000 for the CSB. She said she is a retired citizen living on a very limited income and she is willing to accept higher taxes if that's what it takes to keep their essential services.
41. Brenda D'Sylva, 181 E. Reed Avenue, Apt. 111, speaking on behalf of all City general employees, said that over the last several years, City employees have been left behind and neglected from a pay standpoint. She said Alexandria employees make much less than employees holding the same positions in surrounding jurisdictions. She said that even when employees received a slight increase in pay, the reality is that less money was coming into the home because the cost of the benefits went up. Ms. D'Sylva suggested that employee compensation be considered as more than an after thought. She asked Council to proactively consider the employees and would like to work in conjunction with Council without the bickering and arguing that has become the standard in the budget negotiations. She said that in the past, employees relied on the merit increases to provide for themselves and their families and without the merit increases, many employees have to make difficult cuts in their quality of life. She asked Council to reinstate merit increases for all City employees.
42. Meredith Lair, 211 Westmond Drive, said she wished to speak in defense of the community oriented policing (COPS) program in Lynhaven, which has been the site of so much success and rejuvenation in the last two years. Ms. Lair said that within two months of buying her home, she was considering selling it because she moved in next to one of Alexandria's drug dealers, who sells marijuana and pills all the time and there were large groups of intimidating young men hanging out in front at all hours of the day. She said long-term residents have remarked that the situation on the streets last summer was the worst they had seen in years. She said she was put in touch with Officer Nicholas Ruggiero, their COPS, and that brought her some measure of peace and noted that things have gotten much better. Ms. Lair asked Council to consider the safety, property values and peace of mind of the constituents before it cuts this program. She said she is willing to pay higher property taxes if it means they can keep vital services like this one.
43. Lillian J. White, 119 W. Mason Avenue, speaking as a rider of the WMATA system, said she is a member of the Riders Advisory Council, but she is not speaking on their behalf. She said whether it decides to maintain or up the City's contribution to WMATA, she urged Council to link any funding decision to request to ask WMATA to analyze their efficiency of operation and maintenance, as well as appropriate employee training and re-training.
, 6607 N. 24th Road, Arlington, president, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, spoke about the public private partnership with Alexandria and for every dollar invested by the City in NVCT, they have returned $14 in preserved open space in Alexandria. He said they have permanently preserved six properties in Alexandria totaling almost ten acres of open space and are committed to helping the City achieve the 100 acre ten year goal set out in the 2002 open space plan. He said NVCT is an important regional entity in Northern Virginia and Alexandria is an important part of NVCT's regional efforts to connect their green spaces. He urged Council to continue the highly successful public private partnership.
, 234 Evans Lane, representing the Lynhaven Citizens Association, spoke against the proposed cuts to the COPS program, urging Council to reconsider the reduction of the COPS programs. She said the monthly crime report tells the tale of the community improving but fighting the crime. Ms. Dubinsky said the number one tool to combat the crime is the COPS officer. She said their community does not have a residential police officer, and the two officers service not only Lynhaven but Hume Springs and Mount Jefferson. She asked Council to consider the cuts to their community as well as the program as a whole.
46. Jack L. Stevens, 3834 Charles Avenue, Lenox Place at Sunnyside HOA, thanked the Alexandria Fire Department, as they are extremely qualified, competent and helpful folks. Mr. Stevens said for the COPS program, they are talking six out of 179 of the total patrol force, which is about three percent. Mr. Stevens said it does make a difference. He said they had problems in the past with having a crack market and prostitutes, and the folks who have made the difference are COPS people. He said they do pay off and there is no way to put a cost effective ratio on it. They have gotten rid of their marijuana markets and it is thanks to the COPS officers and the residential police officers. He asked Council to retain the full compliment of six officers in the Arlandria area.
47. Prescott Eisele, 200 E. Glebe Road, speaking for the COPS program, said the COPS officer gets to know various contacts within the neighborhood as well as what kids are on parole, so it makes it an effective way of lowering the crime rate. He said the Lynhaven neighborhood is an improving neighborhood and it has a ways to go. To cut the program now would be to risk having the crime rate go up. Mr. Eisele said the crime rate seems to decrease land values by about two percent and it ends up with a $70,000 loss in revenue by cutting the COPS program. He said even if it throws out all the safety concerns and other concerns that citizens have about walking around in the night, there is a financial impact to the City by cutting the program.
48. Christopher Ullman, 2212 Ft. Ward, said he saw that the budget was going to go up and that his taxes were going to go up, despite the fact that his property values had gone down. Mr. Ullman said they have gone through a remarkable financial crisis that trillions of dollars of wealth by investors and homeowners has been lost. He said the fact that Council would even consider raising the budget at all is shocking. He said there should be fewer employees in the City and there should at least be no merit or cost-of-living allowances. He said in his property assessment, it said that if one were 65 years or older and their income is up to $72,000, they would get a 25 percent tax cut on the real estate, and if one makes up to $55,000 it would have up to a 50 percent tax cut, and he said that is crazy and asked why it is cutting taxes on the most wealthy demographic in the country and the City when it has a global financial crisis and it has a budget problem. He said they should be saying how can they conserve and how can it better fundraise if they are a non-profit organization.
49. Dina Osman, 28 Underwood Place, said she lives in one of the poorer neighborhoods in the West End, and she is an immigrant who is proud to call Alexandria her home. Ms. Osman commended the City for being a compassionate place to live, for being well run. She said she was a beneficiary for three years of the affordable home ownership program grant, which saved her about $100 a month of her property taxes, and in the last three years that was a lifeline for her and made the difference to having access to food and to basic survival supplies. Ms. Osman noted how the economy has affected her as a low-income individual, noting her health insurance rate which rose and she had to chose from being homeless or paying close to $650 for insurance, so she had to cancel her health insurance and was unable to buy other cheaper insurance. She said she hoped to continue to live in Alexandria, unless she is unable to pay her property taxes. Ms. Osman said she has been a volunteer for Meals on Wheels for almost 20 years and has delivered to almost every single neighborhood, and she supported the previous speaker who spoke on behalf of maintaining the great program of Meals on Wheels.
50. Heidi Ford, 1022 Oronoco Street, president, West Old Town Citizens Association, said they are opposed to the planned cut in the COPS program at James Bland, as they consider it to be a hugely successful program and believe that cutting the position would be a detriment to the residents of James Bland and the neighborhood as a whole. She said crime continues to be a problem in their neighborhood and it has had nearly 40 percent of the total number of homicides in the City as a whole. There were two homicides in their neighborhood last year. She went over the crimes in their neighborhood this year so far. Ms. Ford said public safety has to be considered one of the most important functions of a government and one of the primary core functions and needs to be prioritized.
, 51 W. Reed Avenue, a resident of Hume Springs neighborhood, spoke about the cut-backs on the COPS program, noting that when she and her husband bought their house, she saved every penny to put a down payment on the house. However, upon moving in, she wanted to sell it, get out of the City and go to any other City besides Alexandria, as the problems that arose in their community were unacceptable. She said she was a victim of a felony weapons assault in her own front yard and it happened twice, and she chased the offenders the second time through her neighborhood at 11:30 p.m. for a half an hour until the Police showed up. She said that since Officer Ruggierro has been their COPS officer, she has not had a problem, as the drug dealers and thugs in their neighborhood don't even want to look their way anymore. She said her house is where she is supposed to be safe and she is not safe and didn't want to have children in her neighborhood if she doesn't have Officer Ruggierro.
52. Jeanne Defliese, 6363 Levtov Landing, president, Gadsby's Tavern Museum Society, the friends group that supports Gadsby's Tavern Museum, spoke about the budget cuts for the Office of Historic Alexandria, in particular to that of Gadsby's Museum and the Apothecary Museum. Ms. DeFliese said there are cuts to both of the museum hours, calling for closing the Gadsby's Tavern Museum entirely during January and February, and she noted that they have over 25,000 visitors per year at Gadsby's. She said closing it for two months would cut off a source of revenue to the City and the museum. She said February has one of the largest celebrations, which is the birth of George Washington and it would be out of place to close the museum during that important month.
Jacob F. Cuomo
, 51 W. Reed Avenue, spoke about keeping the COPS program running as it is. He said Officer Ruggierro handles not only his neighborhood, but Lynhaven as well, and he has personally witnessed him running down the streets between Hume Springs and Lynhaven to pursue criminals. He said Officer Ruggierro and Sergeant Garcia have done an outstanding job in cutting down the crime problem in their neighborhood.
54. Leslie Zupan, 1309 Queen Street, immediate past president of the West Old Town Citizens Association, reiterated what their current president Heidi Ford said earlier about the loss of the second residential Police Officer at James Bland. She said it is still a very large, spread out project with nearly 200 homes, and that position is key to keeping law enforcement and peace in the neighborhood. She said they previously showed that nearly 40 percent of the homicides occurred in their neighborhood. She said it is disheartening to her that as she was leaving her position at the end of the year that the last call she got from Captain William Johnson was that there was another mugging in the 800 block of Alfred Street. She noted her disappointment that the City is dismantling the community policing program where cops get to know the neighbors and all the players.
55. David Fromm, 2307 E. Randolph Avenue, said the pain in the budget has been spread throughout almost every department, every goal and project and vision. He spoke to the reduction in hours of operation of several museums, which is about $20,000, and the problem is that the ACVA's budget, which is over $2 million, is being held constant. He said they spend as much money bringing people into the City but reduce the hours of operation of the reasons why they come, which seems to be inconsistent. He suggested that a small portion of the ACVA's budget be used to maintain the reason why the ACVA exists. Mr. Fromm spoke to the reduction in hours of operation of the libraries. He asked that the $173,000 be restored and he recommended taking it from the AEDP, whose budget is also flat this year. If the money cannot be found, then perhaps the funds should come from the acquisitions. Many times the community can step up to donate books. If it has to reduce the hours, he asked if there could be more public discussion on how the new hours are implemented. For example, could the branch that stays open late rotate among all the branches of the library.
56. Kevin Beekman, Elbert Avenue, representing the Arlandria Civic Association, spoke to the proposed cuts to the COPS program, noting that he read an article today that quoted the Los Angelos Mayor as saying that public safety is the first obligation of government, when it doesn't have safe streets, everything falls apart, people become isolated, kids turn into prisoners, jobs evaporate, families struggle to survive, public safety is the foundation of everything they try to build. Mr. Beekman said community policing cuts have no place in a City that prides itself on its efforts to move toward sustainability, which is about recognizing value over cost. Community policing affords that value and is cost saving and is integral to a sustainable community and not an extraneous expense. He said the proposed cuts would leave only one COPS officer per area, but how area is defined is vague and in reality the officer would be assigned to three neighborhoods. For Arlandria, one officer would be assigned to an area much greater in size and complexity than how other areas are defined. He said that at the budget work session, Police Chief Cook spoke of the bang for the buck the RPO and COPS officers bring to the jobs, noting that they are highly motivated officers who embrace the work.
57. Glenda Davis, 3732 Edison Street, president, Hume Springs Citizens Association, spoke about the proposed cut in the COPS program in the neighborhoods of Arlandria, Lynhaven and Hume Springs. She said the success they have made in Hume Springs is the result of dedicated residents and Police Officers working together to resolve the problems they have had in their neighborhood. Ms. Davis said they have very dedicated residents in Hume Springs and that is a result of the residents and Police Officers working together. She asked that Council maintain the number of officers they currently have.
58. Laura Dickey, 226 Wesmond Drive, said she not only lives in Alexandria but teaches in Alexandria, and she heard rumor that not may the COPS program be underfunded, but Officer Lengel in her school might go away or be underfunded. She said that if that happens, everything they have said is true - she feels protected. She said she bought in Lynhaven so she was the face that her students saw in the classroom and gardening. She said if the Police are taken out of her neighborhood, she would put a for sale sign on her front yard within a year at any loss.
, 54 Dale Street, representing the Hume Springs Citizens Association, spoke in support of keeping the COPS program, which is becoming a victim of its own success. Its been extremely effective and is an efficient use of City resources and it might be rewarded by cutting the program substantially. He said some of the crime reductions it has been based on are based on the fact that Glebe Park, a huge public housing tract, is vacant right now and is about to be back-filled by transfers from James Bland. He said the COPS program is spread around the City but Arlandria, Hume Springs and Lynhaven maybe have 3,000 residences and they have a total of two COPS officers with the proposed budget.
, 1034 Woods Place, said she is a recently retired curator of the Office of Historic Alexandria at the Alexandria Black History Museum, said she is distressed at the non-funding of the curator at the Black History Museum, noting that the museum has two full-time and two part-time people and four or five seasonal staff, allowing them to serve the public six days a week but all special events in an outstanding and gracious manner. The reduction of the seasonal staff left the museum short-staffed. Ms. Patterson said the volunteers cannot stay in the building without the professional staff. She said Alexandria's advertised diversity of cultures and dissemination of education pertaining thereto is jeopardized when institutions like the Black History Museum are under-funded or non-funded. She asked Council to keep the curator position in the budget.
61. Gail Gordon-Donegan, 1314 Bayliss Drive, said she has listened to what people want and need, but there is only one thing that matters, and that is the schools. She said the schools in the City are terrible, T.C. Williams was ranked in the bottom tenth of the entire state, and the reason they have crime, drugs and problems is because the schools are lousy. Ms. Gordon-Donegan said the only things it really has to pay for are the school, fire and police.
62. Gary Carr, 216 Aspen Street, spoke in support of the renovation of the Frances Hammond field and the Brenman Park field, which is also a noteworthy project. He said they represent an investment in the future, as the children are the investment in the future and are the infrastructure of the society. Mr. Carr commented on the delay of the conversion of the fields throughout the City. He said it should consider some mechanism of providing a renovation or increase in running and the ability to run at the public schools. He suggested combining with the constraints the CIP into a single CIP for the City and the Schools. Mr. Carr said on the Warwick pool, there is no projected funding in the future for that and he asked that they consider at least putting in something where it can consider what it will take and if there are private firms or entities that might be interested in supporting the Warwick pool.
THERE BEING NO FURTHER BUSINESS TO BE CONSIDERED
, upon motion by Vice Mayor Donley, seconded by Councilwoman Hughes and carried unanimously, City Council closed the public hearing and adjourned the special public hearing meeting of March 10, 2010, was adjourned at 7:31 p.m. The voting was as follows:
Donley "aye" Fannon "aye"
Hughes "aye" Krupicka "aye"
Euille "aye" Pepper "aye"
WILLIAM D. EUILLE MAYOR
Jacqueline M. Henderson
City Clerk and Clerk of Council
This docket is subject to change.
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