March 2, 2007
The city manager has rolled out his plan for how to spend Charlottesville’s dollars in the coming fiscal year.
Residents won't see the tax relief they have been calling for but they may benefit from the extra spending in three areas: education, public safety and affordable housing.
The nearly 123,000,000 budget plan increases spending by 12% and much of money is going to city schools.
“I call it unprecedented. The level of support is bigger than it has ever been,” said City Manager Gary O’Connell.
Public safety is another top priority and for the first time the city is proposing funds be set aside for the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad.
“CARS can only handle so much with the growth in the city and we need to step in and try to supplement their work,” said O’Connell.
But that spending may come at a cost. The proposal suggests people transported by ambulance pay a fee.
The budget plan also includes dollars for cameras and computers in police cars.
“I feel really good about what is being proposed and the good work it will do for the department,” said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.
Public transportation gets a boost with new limited CTS service on Sundays.
And some other good news, there will be no tax hike but no property tax cut either. Instead the city is proposing relief in the form of affordable housing and tax break initiatives for the needy.
“The people that need it the most get the least benefit from a tax rate cut because the value of their houses is the smallest,” said O’Connell.
O’Connell said if city council decides to do away with that almost $2,000,000 in housing programs then they would find enough money for a tax break.
And cutting the property tax is something at least one city councilor said he will be calling for in upcoming weeks.
The budget will officially be presented to city council on Monday night and there will be many public meetings and work sessions before it’s finalized in April.
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