Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's In Your Wallet?

Late yesterday, the City of Alexandria announced real estate assessments for 2009 are now available online.

In addition, the proposed residential real estate "would increase from 84.5 to 88.7 cents (4.2 cents) in 2009. However, due to the estimated 4.7% decline in average assessed home value, the average homeowner will pay the same amount ($4,226) as in 2008. The average tax bill has declined since 2006."

So in 2010 we will have the same tax bill for homes that are likely worth less than they were last year.

Simultaneously, City Manager James Hartmann unveiled the proposed $524.3 million general fund budget for FY 2010. Interestingly, several departments will be allocated slightly more money in 2010. Most citizens will probably not take issue with increases in the budgets for public safety units such as the Alexandria Police and Fire Departments, but it's notable that the Department of Human Services' budget will increase while the transfer to Alexandria City Public School will be reduced. What does that say?

Some employee layoffs are also apparently on the way, but the Growler finds the admission that a reduction in force of 4% is "unprecedented" remarkable. How many of us have been in organizations that have slashed 15, 25, even 50% of the workforce in hard times? What does this say about productivity as well?

Another interesting revelation is that this will be the first time in 20 years the City has frozen salaries. Things can't be too bad for employees however, since the City Manager is also proposing an extra day of accrued leave. If that leave can be cashed out, it's a backhanded raise.

So readers, what do you think about the budget and your tax bill?