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City Unveils Proposed Budget for '04-05

Proposed real estate tax rate is at 92 Cents.

The proposed budget unveiled by Fairfax City manager Bob Sisson looks to maintain the status quo of this year's budget, with a stabilization of the real estate tax rate at 92 cents per $100, which is this fiscal year's tax rate.

Other carryovers from 2003-04 include the same rates for the cellular, cigarette, meals taxes and BPOL rates. Personal property taxes would remain at $3.29 per $100. Water and sewer rates will rise 5 percent, but water and sewer connection fees will remain unchanged.

City expenditures will increase 4.6 percent from 2003-04, and both General Fun expenditures and revenues will increase 8.9 percent over the previous year.

"We have tried to be very conservative," said Sisson in reference to the General Fund.

Sisson presented the proposed budget to the Fairfax City Council during its work session Tuesday evening. The budget presumes the continuation of economic conditions from this current fiscal year, such as state and federal funding, to remain flat; low unemployment rates; no changes to the tax structure in reducing or increasing local revenues, as directed by the state; and low vacancy levels for commercial properties.

Although the proposed real estate tax rate would remain at 92 cents, with 3 cents going toward the open space fund, citizens could still see their payments increase due to rising real estate residential assessments, which increased an average of 13.1 percent in 2004.

One cent of the real estate tax rate roughly equals $382,000.

The City Council will meet with department heads next week and conduct several public hearings and an outreach meeting on the budget before it is adopted on April 13. Public hearings are scheduled on March 23 and April 13, and a budget outreach meeting will convene at Daniels Run Elementary on March 30 at 7 p.m.

Copies of the proposed budget are available in the director of finance's office in City Hall.

Council members refrained from making comments on the budget, but Fairfax mayor Rob Lederer reminded them that the real estate tax rate, as well as other budget items, can still be debated during future meetings.

THE COUNCIL also agreed unanimously during its regular meeting to approve the General Development Agreement with the developers for the city's Old Town Redevelopment Project. The agreement will govern the development of the Logan-Sipan site, where the post office is located; the North Street Parking Lot site; and the current Fairfax County Regional Library site, according to staff reports.

Members also agreed unanimously, with a time amendment, to approve a purchase agreement that will govern the terms of the purchase of the Logan-Sipan site, along with either the North Street Parking Lot or the library.

These agreements are between the city and Old Town Village LLC, TC Mid-Atlantic Development Inc., Walnut Street Development Co. and J. Donegan Co.

The Council took action on two additional items. It approved changes to the city's retirement plan to make it available to part-time employees, and it decided to implement several traffic-calming measures in the Fairchester Woods neighborhood on a 90-day trial basis. The measures were determined by the citizens of the community and the city.