I hope everyone is doing ok with the winter weather we’ve been having. It will be good to see spring!
Taxes: I hear more every year about how difficult it is for people to afford our ever increasing property taxes. At our meeting last Saturday we advertised the tax rate for next year with an increase of 1.5 cents. By law, we have to advertise the rate now. When it comes time to adopt in April, we cannot adopt a higher rate, but we can adopt a lower rate. Just as a matter of principle, as an elected official, I like to have maximum flexibility for as long as I can. One never knows what might happen. We do know now that the schools want $13.6 M more than could be accommodated in the current rate without some cuts or increases in revenue. That said, I am very hopeful we will find ways to not increase the rate and perhaps to even lower it a little. That is my goal. We now embark on many work sessions on the manager’s proposed budget to get to adoption of our own budget on April 21.
Our public comment for this meeting made it clear to me how much we need a strategic plan and to have the difficult conversations needed to determine what our priorities for spending should be. You can watch my remarks at the 1:17:53 to 1:21:45 time mark.
Affordable Housing: On Tuesday we approved an affordable housing project on Frederick Street behind the Carlyle condominiums on Columbia Pike. This was a very difficult vote for me because the new building will provide 254 much needed affordable units, but it will also be very close to the Carlyle and block much of their view and sunlight. The developer, APAH, made a number of modifications that mitigated the harm to the Carlyle. The project passed on a 5-0 vote, but I think residents of the Pike who contacted us made clear that the west end of Columbia Pike needs attention and that the Form Based Code we adopted in ’12 may need some revision to make sure it does not have some unintended negative consequences for the Pike.
Save the Date: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” I turn 64 on April 25th and this Beatles tune has been playing in my head for some time. When I first heard it years ago, I never thought I’d actually be 64 some day. I’ve decided to celebrate with a Beatles themed party at Dan and Jane Dixon’s home in Lyon Village. It will have a political purpose as well: I hope to raise some money for my reelection next year, and we’ll hold a straw poll for both the County and School Board races this year. I hope you can help me celebrate. I’ve been getting by with a little (and a lot of) help from my friends for years. It should be fun. And it should definitely be spring by then.
As always, I am happy to hear any thoughts or concerns you have on County matters.