Deadbeat Taxpayers

Deadbeat Taxpayers

The City depends on taxes, which pay for services. If everybody stopped paying them, the City would have a difficult time functioning. That’s why the city’s Department of Finance publishes an annual list of delinquent taxpayers. It’s a way to use the oldest trick in the book — public humiliation — to encourage payment. Fred and Tempie Barron topped the published list, owing the city’s largest delinquent amount: $36,862.

“When I get the list, I go line by line to see if I know anybody who’s on it,” said Mayor Bill Euille. “Then I call them to let them know because maybe they accidentally overlooked something. It’s embarrassing to have your name on this list.”

One item on the top-20 list stood out to Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald. Number 16 was a name that was very familiar to him: DSF Long, the developer that initiated a demolition of a 1913 townhouse in the 1500 block of King Street. Macdonald led an ill-fated campaign last year to save the 92-year-old building last year, but the developer went forward with the demolition anyway. According to the delinquent taxpayers list, DSF Long owes the city $15,711.

“Everybody should pay their taxes,” Macdonald said. “Developers like DSF Long should be particularly attentive.”


Following the Paper Trail

Virginia was spared the political turmoil of a recount in the closely contested Senate race last week when Republican Sen. George Allen conceded the race to Democratic challenger Jim Webb. But if the city of Alexandria wanted to conduct a recount, election officials would not have the benefit of a paper trail. This concerns Councilman Rob Krupicka and Councilman Ludwig Gaines, who have asked the city’s lobbyist to keep an eye on the upcoming session of the General Assembly in Richmond.

“I think there’s an excellent change that a bill like this will be introduced,” said Legislative Director Bernard Caton, “Whether it will pass or not I don’t know.”

The issue of a paper trail has become an issue since Election 2000, when then-Gov. George W. Bush brought a legal challenge against Vice President Al Gore’s call for a recount in Florida. The result of the presidential election was delayed for 36 days. In response, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which required 90 localities in Virginia to replace their punch card and lever voting equipment. Eighty-seven jurisdictions in Virginia purchased electronic voting equipment and three jurisdictions purchased optical-scanning equipment.

“One of the concerns that has arisen with respect to electronic voting machines is the lack of a paper record to ensure that a person’s vote was recorded accurately and to use in the case of any election recounts,” wrote City Manager Jim Hartmann in his recommendation that the city incorporate the issue into its legislative package.

The General Assembly considered a bill that would have required a paper record of electronic ballots last year. Rather than acting on the bill, HB 1243, legislators sent the issue to the Joint Commission on Technology and Science to study the issue. The commission has yet to issue its report, but Mayor Euille added his support to the idea of adding paper ballots Tuesday evening.

“Hopefully, this has legs,” the mayor said.


Batons Aren’t Just for Girls

Twirling a baton is for boys too, according to Mayor Bill Euille. During presentation of a proclamation honoring the Twirl Factory, which recently captured two silver medals at the 2006 Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics in Cleveland, the mayor asked why no boys were present.

“Guys shouldn’t be embarrassed to twirl a baton,” said Euille, adding that Houston Rockets star Calvin Murphy was a championship baton twirler. “It’s a sport, and it takes skill.”