Comment Board

Latest comment posted 65 months ago

FY 2013 Budget Process

The City of Alexandria anticipates Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 to be another challenging year as it continues to strategically plan for its future. As the City begins the budget process, we would like your input regarding the FY 2013 Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program.

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To: City Council, Mayor, and City Manager

General property tax revenue has increased 9 times faster than population growth over the last ten years indicating a government gone wild looking for ways to spend the taxpayers’ money.

There are several areas of opportunity for the City Council to reduce the cost of government and reduce taxes.

And where might be the best areas to look for savings? Payroll stands out. The city has increased payroll at 7 times the rate of increase in our population.

If our payroll in proportion to revenue were the same as Savings to the city would be:
All Virginia Independent Cities $102,000,000
All Virginia Municipalities $90,000,000
Fairfax and Arlington Counties $80,000,000
Alexandria 2001 $50,000,000

The City of Alexandria’s workforce can and should be reduced to give the taxpayers of the city a tax cut and to diminish the size of the city government on the community. It is doable without affecting services.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-farm business productivity, which excludes manufacturing, was up 24.6% from 2001 to 2011. Had the city government realized these kinds of productivity gains, the number of city employees would have dropped from 4,334 to 3,579 even after allowing for our population increase.

Assuming the government services sector is inherently less amendable to productivity increases, cut in half the BLS figure, and we could be at 4,163 employees.

America's Protected Class III, a 1994 study, estimated that state and local government employee counts could be reduced by 19.2 percent without reducing public services. Bill Clinton’s initiative “Reinventing Government” aimed to reduce the Federal workforce by 12%.

The City Council, working with the city staff, can seek:
• Reduction in the size of the staffing of the city government
• Bring the pay scales to more realistic levels
• Continue its efforts to increase the productivity of the city work force
• Use of contract labor for some functions the city performs. Privatize these functions
• Consolidate or eliminate some of 76 boards and commissions that absorb staff time
• Continue efforts to move all employees to defined contribution plans

A part of this effort should focus on why Alexandria cannot be more business friendly. Thriving businesses produce jobs and tax revenues. Evidence would point to a hypothesis that the city is not business friendly. Over the last ten years:

• Sales tax revenue, excluding restaurants, down 9.3% adjusted for inflation
• Restaurant sales tax revenues down 16% after adjusting for inflation and for the 4% surcharge levied beginning in 2009.

The school budget appears to also offer opportunities for savings.

The school is top heavy with administration. These positions and the pay scales can be reduced. According the Auditor of Public Accounts of Virginia, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) spends, as proportion of total revenues, 40% more than the average school district on administration and overhead. One would think we could spend less than the average as the city has 4 times the density of population of all cities in Virginia. Were the administrative costs of the ACPS in line with the average of all schools, the city could save over $8,000,000 a year.

Disturbing reports over the last several months provide antidotal evidence, as revealed by the press, indicates that more savings are possible in the ACPS system.

After repeated inquiries of the ACPS superintendent’s staff, it was unable to provide any evidence of or reasoning for its projected increase in student population over the next five year, thus, their projections are suspect and likely made up out of whole cloth.

I have a concern about the proposed Potomac Yards Metro stop. Based on figures provide to me by the city, the discounted cash flow to the beginning of 2011 indicates an $18,000,000 loss to the city. The city claims a breakeven in cash flow in 2019. That date is misleading; 2019 is when positive cash flows begin to eat into the cumulative losses. The breakeven point is 2037. Of course, the breakeven date could be even further out if the staff’s projections are too optimistic.

J.J. Smith (90) | User | May 1, 2012 - 8:14 AM

I can also recommend the Washington Metro Philharmonic Orchestra for the birthday event.
I want to request that bike lanes be created to connect Alexandria's high schools: TC to Minnie Howard to Episcopal to St. Stephens/St. Agnes to Bishop Ireton. We need to unite these kids socially, via a non-parental mode, to promote unity....and with gas set to hit $5/gal...why not?

Margaret Wohler (309) | User | March 27, 2012 - 8:13 PM

If the city is looking to cut costs by using a local a band for its birthday celebration, look no further than its own Alexandria Citizens Band!

Deb Fuller (92) | User | February 28, 2012 - 4:28 PM

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