Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Examining City Budget

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Examining City Budget

If you ever wondered why our city government costs so much, then read Dan Brendel’s article in the April 18, 2019 edition of the Gazette Packet. It’s short on words but revealing thanks to an excellent, nearly full page chart.

The chart nicely depicts the complicated process whereby 15 adjustments were made to two budgets: a one-year and a 10-year budget which combined exceed two billion dollars.

Now savor this: Mr. Brendel’s chart shows our elected officials could only find, to date, among these billions of your tax dollars just two savings totaling roughly $500,000. I’m sure you’ll agree this is a statistically insignificant sum when compared to the billions the city manager insists is necessary to provide the services and facilities presumably demanded by we, the taxpayers.

Based on the city’s appeal to anyone with Internet access to submit add/subtract budget suggestions, it is not expecting much advice from our elected officials. And, given the complexity of the few budget items in Brendel’s chart, I empathize with them. Critiquing not one, but two budgets consisting of millions upon millions of dollars requires a level of expertise our part-time citizen council members don’t have.

However, what they do have is a proclivity to spend. Case in point: council member Chapman, who by day works for Fairfax County school system, gratuitously gave $100,000 of our tax dollars to our school system. But when asked what the money is for, neither he nor the ACPS could answer the question.

As they scrub the proposed city budget, our council members should remind themselves of the core services all cities provide: public safety, road maintenance, parks and schools. Everything else is an example of the tax-taking public sector crowding out the tax-generating private sector. The former will not tolerate competition; the latter needs competition to be ever-efficient.

If in doubt where to begin paring the city manager’s proposed short and long term budgets, then our councilors should start by selling its money losing businesses to the tax-paying private sector (e. g., Dash, bike share, rental properties, inspection services of all types, passport photos, etc.). Result: a more affordable city for young and old, and for everyone between.

Jimm Roberts