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Council Sets Real Estate Tax

Councilmembers also discuss permit parking and a commercial tax district for Lee Highway.

With little fanfare, the Fairfax City Council Tuesday evening passed its $85.8 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It adopted a 90-cent real estate tax rate, with 3 cents to be set aside for open space acquisition.

Last year's rate was 92 cents.

Council members had wanted to reduce the real estate tax rate further to ease rising real estate assessments but could not because of uncertainties surrounding the state budget, said Fairfax mayor Rob Lederer.

"We all had aspirations and hopes we would reduce it lower than that," Lederer said, adding that state funds comprise 10 percent, or roughly $8 million, of the city's budget. "We have been put in a position where we have to be very conservative. ... That really hindered our ability to be as creative as we'd like to be."

The Council also increased the water and sewer rate by 5 percent and set the personal property tax rate at $3.29 per $100 assessed value. Members of volunteer fire departments or rescue squads would have a personal property tax rate of 1 cent per $100. City employees saw their employee wage adjustment set at 2.4 percent.

By law, the Fairfax City Council needed to approve its budget by April 15.

Council also discussed the following items:

Permit Parking on Brookwood Drive?

In order to ensure citizens knew about the situation, Council members decided to defer approving an ordinance to create a permit parking district along Brookwood Drive between Old Lee Highway and Spring Lake Terrace.

The parking district had been proposed because of problems residents have encountered with students from neighboring Fairfax High School parking on Brookwood Drive. Seventeen residents on Brookwood had petitioned the city for the ordinance, and Country Club Hills Association president Paul Sullivan had spoken with Council members in favor of the permit parking.

But Council members questioned how effective the ordinance would be, since the $40 fine might not be adequate enough to deter would-be violators. They also wondered whether all the residents knew about the proposal, since notice would go out to all affected citizens only after the ordinance was passed.

"Pretty soon, both of the entire neighborhoods will have signs," said Councilmember Patrice Winter, referring to the Country Club Hills and Old Lee Hills neighborhoods. "This is just a Band-Aid on an issue that's going to keep proliferating."

If the ordinance is approved, parking would be restricted between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Each resident on Brookwood would be given two guest passes and could request additional temporary passes from the City Manager's office if needed.

Council members decided to defer the item until May 11, in order to notify all potentially involved citizens. The ordinance would go into effect in time for the next school year if approved.

Open Space Acquired

Council approved a $5.7 million settlement agreement, with Robert E. Stafford Sr. & Associates L.P., to acquire 23 acres of property located on the east and west sides of Stafford Drive for open space. Council members thanked the Staffords for their willingness to offer the land to the city.

Apple Federal Credit Union to Get Facelift

Apple Federal Credit Union of 9701 Main St. received the green light to proceed with renovations to its office building. Council approved a special-use permit for a drive-through window and for parking reductions.

The Credit Union, which serves primarily educators, intends to expand its current office space by constructing a one-story, 4,591-square-foot addition on the north side of the existing building, and adding a two-lane drive-through in front of the addition.

In response to a neighboring citizen, the Credit Union agreed to upkeep the vegetation and fencing buffers along the property's borders.

Special Lee Highway Tax District Discussed

Lee Highway Task Force chair Dale Lestina presented a proposal to create a special tax district along Lee Highway, in order to revitalize the corridor. The tax district, called the Business Improvement District (BID), would enable the city to tax businesses along Lee Highway with a supplemental tax of 12.5 cents per $100 assessed value. The revenue from that tax, $850,000 a year for 20 years, would go back to the corridor toward business development, creation of a master plan and a marketing plan, loan programs, and architectural and landscape development.

"Doing something along this order is extremely necessary if we're going to compete," Lestina said.

The Task Force had been meeting with 78 property owners, business owners and citizens about the district, the majority of whom approved the concept.

The ordinance to create the tax district will be introduced to the Council on April 27, and a public hearing is set for May 25.