Alexandria City Council Adopts Fiscal Year 2020 Budget

by Lee Hernly, Editor
On May 1, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 General Fund Operating Budget of $761.5 million, which represents an increase of just 1.75% over the current year.

On May 1, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 General Fund Operating Budget of $761.5 million, which represents an increase of just 1.75% over the current year. The approved budget includes $231.7 million in operating funds for public schools (a 3.5%, or $7.8 million increase over FY 2019 funding), and invests $1.62 billion over 10 years in Alexandria’s Capital Improvement Program. FY 2020 begins on July 1, 2019, and ends June 30, 2020.

The adopted budget is consistent with City Council’s guidance and Alexandria’s Strategic Plan, along with extensive input from the community and City departments. In addition to the items in the budget proposed by the City Manager in February, City Council further increased funding for Alexandria City Public Schools; approved the necessary local match if a federal grant is funded to increase firefighter staffing; extended King Street corridor tree lighting; increased contingency funding to plan for a proposed commercial property clean energy program; expanded early childhood services; created a due process universal representation access program for immigrants facing deportation; and expanded nutrition assistance services for low-income residents at farmers’ markets.

As in the City Manager’s proposed budget, the adopted budget funds a new customer service system based on the easy-to-remember 311 phone number and upgraded online features. Major energy efficiency and air quality improvements for City fleet vehicles, facilities, and street lights are planned, including linkage of 100% of City government energy use to renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass. The budget funds a new racial and social equity officer position in the City Manager’s Office and increases funding for affordable housing programs from $5 million to $6 million per year. Economic development initiatives in the adopted budget include vitality improvements for commercial corridors and expanded capacity for business recruitment research and analysis. The adopted budget reflects $4.8 million in operating budget savings across departments proposed by the City Manager and $1.3 million in revenue from increased cost recovery and collections.

The real estate tax rate for 2020 will remain unchanged from 2019, at $1.13 per $100 of assessed value. Based on 2019 real estate assessments, this would increase the average homeowner’s tax bill by 1.9%, $118 per year, or the equivalent of 32 cents per day. The vehicle personal property tax will increase from $5.00 per $100 of assessed value to $5.33, in conjunction with the elimination of the vehicle decal and associated $33 annual fee. This will result in no change to the total amount of City revenue generated by the tax, while the net cost to each vehicle owner will increase, decrease or remain the same. The adopted budget adds additional resources to improve delinquent tax collections through specialized contractors, license plate readers, and data exchanges. There are no increases in City stormwater or sewer fees.

The annual fee for residents who receive City refuse and recycling collection will increase by $38 or 10.2%, from $373 to $411, based on increases in contractor costs and the impact of China’s new strict recycling processing standards. Five dollars of the annual fee increase will be used to fund WasteSmart initiatives.

Pending approval by the Alexandria Transit Company’s Board of Directors, the base DASH Bus fare would increase from $1.75 to $2.00, to match the base fare for Metrobus, the Fairfax County Connector, and Arlington Transit. The monthly DASH pass would increase from $45 to $50. These increases would not take effect until after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Platform Improvement Project concludes in September 2019. The City has allocated $2.7 million in local and state funding to mitigate the impacts of the WMATA summer platform project beyond WMATA’s efforts, through planning, public outreach, traffic management, shuttle buses, and other strategies.

The adopted budget underscores the City’s investment in its workforce by funding performance-based merit increases for employees, improvements in shift differentials for the evening and overnight workers, earlier retirement age for sheriff’s deputies, and the conversion of eight long-term temporary and contract positions to full-time permanent status.

To learn more about the entire budget process and view all budget documents, visit

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