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Council Notebook

A Taxing Debate

The late campaign may be a thing of the past. But the debate about taxes lingers.

During a discussion of the city’s economic health this week, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley praised Alexandria for having a responsible debt burden and a thriving economy when other jurisdictions are struggling. Mayor Bill Euille added that the city’s tax rate has been relatively constant since he was first elected to the City Council in 1994.

“I might be the Grinch that stole Christmas,” interjected Councilwoman Alicia Hughes. “But, at the end of the day I don’t want the viewing public to think that we’re out of touch since we’re having a pep rally here.”

Hughes pointed out that tax bills have doubled over the last decade, even if the tax rate has remained flat. She said that she didn’t want people in Alexandria to think that elected officials had a tin ear to the concerns of taxpayers, who have seen an increasing burden in recent years. Donley shot back that the rising property values are an indication of strong leadership in the city, and that taxpayers have funded investments that have added to the tax base.

“When you vote against those opportunities to expand your tax base,” he said, “one of the consequences of those decisions to turn away from economic development and expand the tax base is a potentially higher tax burden.”

Mayor of All Things

Being mayor of Alexandria has its perks. There are parades and speaking engagements and invitations to every reception imaginable. Then there are the occasions that call for kilts or bicycles. But Mayor Euille may have powers unknown to previous generations of city leaders — dominion over the weather.

During a discussion of the upcoming Scottish Walk festivities, Euille assured Alexandrians that they can expect a crisp and clear weekend.

“I talked to the man upstairs today, and we’re going to have great weather,” Euille announced. “Yes, the Big Man upstairs. Beautiful weather. Fifty-five plus degrees. Sunny, and the winds are going to be less than five miles and hour. So there’s no excuse for folks not come out and enjoy themselves and be Scottish for that day.”

Fake Blood Robbery

Not all of this season’s holiday shoppers are above board. Just ask the folks at Wells Fargo Bank on North Washington Street. Last weekend, they confronted a bank robber wearing a read-and-white hooded sweatshirt. It happened around 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, when the man brandished a knife and demanded money. Alexandria police officials say he had “fake blood” on his cheeks and around his eyes. He left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Wasteful Spending

Leaders in Arlington and Alexandria are talking trash about each other again. But this time, it’s about creating a new waste-to-energy agreement.

This week, the Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council both agreed to enter into a new agreement to create a waste-disposal service through 2025. The agreement allocates ownership of funds as 60 percent Arlington and 40 percent Alexandria, which represents the amount of trash that would be taken to the facility. Revenues from the waste-to-energy operation would be split 60 percent to 40 percent.

“Industrial sites aren’t the prettiest things to look at,” said Councilman Frank Fannon, whose family has owned industrial properties throughout the city. “But they are very important to the economic health of the city.”