Tuesday, June 10, 2008

City Council Meeting

Oh, lets see if I can sum up the city council meeting. I'm sure some of the hot topics (slavery museum) will be written up in the paper.
On the slavery museum asking for tax waivers (as allowed by law):
Former Governor Wilder was in the audience, and spoke about the possibilities of the slavery museum. I fear a few of his remarks such as "If we are successful, just consider the possibilities of what those revenues ..." are going to be. Sounds too visionary, with little backing. However, if you listen to the other supporters, you get a genuine heartfelt love for the museum. One of the most data driven comments was that the 40k per year in taxes could be money spent toward construction. A quick search of city records shows that previously the tax bill wasn't nearly that high. In 2006 and 2007 the assessment for the land was approx $380k. In 2008 that assessment is now $7.6M. Times are tight not only for the city but also for the fund raising activities related to the museum. Wilder stated that even some large donors are holding back on earlier commitments, or asking for a delay in when they send money. The item was deferred until 6/24 to do more research...
The city is requesting through state representatives that the GSA examine the per diem rate for Fredericksburg. Stafford shares the same rate as Prince William, which is $88 per hotel room per night. Technically Fredericksburg is not a defined city or county, therefore it falls into the standard statewide rate of $70 per night.
On Budget:
The rate appears to be $0.56 per $100 in value (needs another vote in 2 weeks). This rate means that city staff is going to take a hit, including some benefits limitations, and no raises. At the previously discussed $0.58, there was talk about at least 1/2 year raises, but some other benefits limitations. The affect is roughly $90 for a home valued at $300k.
The city is going to be required to reduced spending within city officers and outside agencies by $400k. The other $400k comes from a fund balance (reserve), which won't be available in future years. It was justified as a one time use in order to fund outside agencies. This gives outside agencies one year to look for alternate sources of revenue. The city grant writer will be busy. This also means that the city is operating on less revenue than last year, so expect to see some efficiencies, or reduction in services. It's setting the city up for a more difficult budget discussion next year.
Storm cleanup:
The city will continue to gather trees/limbs until 6/17. They noted that some equipment acquired last year is being put to good use, and doing work that previously would have required outside contractors.
The city is also rejecting a request for Northern Virginia Car and Bike Show since the application wasn't filed 60 days in advance. Apparently they can't pull together comprehensive plan for traffic, police and support. It's ~10,000 vehicles, which could have been a lot of ancilary revenue. Kinda funny since their website: http://novabikeandcarshow.mbrrewards.com is already selling tickets on their website for the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds. Shouldn't the fairgrounds have been all over the paperwork for this?

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