Alexandria City Council has moved one step closer to reducing the real estate tax by two cents to $1.09 per $100 of assessed value.
Council voted unanimously to approve the proposed ordinance on first reading Tuesday night and set the matter for public hearing but only after some discussion.
“While I generally support reducing the real estate tax rate, I would like an opportunity to review the proposed budget carefully and make sure that we will not have a problem in the out years when our real estate assessments may not be as high,” said Councilwoman Joyce Woodson.
“If, as I believe we will, we decide that a reduction is the way to go, leaving the rate at $1.11 does no harm. We can always reduce the rate later. We cannot, however, raise the rate without going through some procedural hoops. I would just like to have the maximum amount of flexibility.”
Councilman David Speck agreed. “I appreciate what Councilwoman Woodson is saying about flexibility,” he said. “I am all for keeping our options open.”
Mayor Kerry J. Donley disagreed. “While I understand the desire for flexibility, I think that we have sent a message that we wish to lower the real estate tax and if we don’t do it, we send a mixed message that I believe is harmful. I believe that we should set the rate at $1.09 and then make sure that we keep the budget in line with making that happen.”
In the name of speaking with one voice, Speck made the motion to approve the reduction. “I just think that it is important for us to speak as a group on this matter,” he said.
The public hearing will be held on Apr. 13, with final passage of the ordinance scheduled for April 23.