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Letter to the Editor: Taxpayer’s Lament

To the Editor:

There was a recent story about city tax rates quoting the mayor, vice mayor and council member Alicia Hughes. Only Hughes showed the correct understanding of the tax rate and burden, so her failure to be re-elected is a real loss to the city. She correctly noted that tax bills have doubled in the last decade. However Vice Mayor Donley’s discussion of tax rates and property values show he is deeply out of touch with reality, particularly economic reality. Raising property values are only very remotely related, if at all, to city leadership. Apparently Mr. Donley is oblivious to the housing price bubble of the last decade. What the city really did was tax inflation, to cover over spending. The housing inflation had many causes, none of which were related to city leadership. That inflation allowed Alexandria and many other jurisdictions to pursue to reckless spending. As far as investment is concerned, what do we as citizens and taxpayers see? An expensive school system who’s “crown jewel” (T.C. Williams High School) is labeled “persistently lowest achieving school,” in the lowest 5 percent statewide. That speaks well for the city. We also see a new tax in the form of the new sewer agency, which for me was higher than my water bill. Yet there is no money or borrowing capacity to deal with flooding in Old Town.

Furthermore the city, with its brilliant current leadership, has subtracted from the tax base with the BRAC site, which is a permanent 2 percent hit on every property owner in the city. It will be 100 years, if ever, to correct that error. We cannot afford this “leadership.”

The city’s leadership has been lucky that the Federal presence keeps the local economy in relatively good shape. Maybe one day the Council will wake up. Meantime do the citizens and taxpayer a small favor and drop the phony outreach program. That will at least save a few dollars and as a bonus drop the hypocrisy.

William Blumberg, MBA