Alexandria’s property tax rate will go down for the first time in 15 years, and the Virginia city eliminated fares on the DASH bus system when the Alexandria City Council approved its budget for the next fiscal year.
The budget of $770.7 million is 2.3% smaller than the current year’s spending plan.
While property taxes will decline two cents to $1.11 per $100 of assessed value, rising assessments in Alexandria will mean homeowners pay more in real estate taxes.
The Northern Virginia city will overhaul its 37-year-old bus system to focus on increased access. Fares on the DASH buses will be free starting Sept. 5. Buses, which have seen low ridership since the pandemic, will run more frequently in the midday, evenings and weekends under a planned overhaul of the system that will change some routes.
The DASH bus system changes will increase the percentages of the low-income and minority residents who are within walking distance to bus stations. For low-income residents, all-day bus access will increase from 29% to 73% and from 22% to 70% for minority residents. Access also will increase for senior citizens.
Alexandria residents will pay more for trash collection. The $24.22 increase in the residential refuse collection fee to $484.22 will help fund new vehicles that are required to convert yard waste collection and recycling from a contracted service to a city service.
The city will end its School Resource Officer program in T.C. Williams High School, Francis Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School, moving the nearly $800,000 in police department funding to contingent reserves. Over the summer, the city will consider using the funds for school-age children, the Teen Wellness Center, an additional Behavioral Health Specialist for the Alexandria Crisis Intervention and Co-responding Program pilot program or related needs.
Alexandria will no longer fund 38 vacant or frozen positions and will give a one-time 1% base salary bonus to city employees and state employees, such as those of the Alexandria Health Department. The city said the budget contains $11.8 million in general fund expenditure savings. The budget includes $2 million for targeted new operating investments.
The city will reallocate $3.2 million in funds to speed up the renovation of the Joseph Hensley Park off Eisenhower Avenue, starting in 2022, and will increase funding for affordable housing by $1 million.
The budget fully funds the school system’s $292.3 million budget.
The city said the adopted budget includes $293 million of planned capital investments in schools, transportation, sewers, stormwater management, public buildings and facilities and information technology.