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Talkin’ About Money: After weeks of signaling no tax increases would be forthcoming, Mayor Vince Gray unveiled his 2012 budget with… a brand-new 8.9 percent tax bracket on people making more than $200,000. The budget also includes major cuts to social services, new fees on DMV requests, new parking fees, and a doubling of the Circulator cash fare from $1 to $2 ($1.50 with SmarTrip), among other items. Given how tight the city’s finances are, the tax increases seem preferable to even deeper service cuts. Better news: The budget would allow D.C. liquor stores to stay open until midnight, rather than closing at 10 p.m.—which means all the rich people can drink away the pain of paying higher taxes! +1

Giro d’Washington: When District officials announced a couple years ago that the Giro d’Italia—one of the biggest cycling events in Europe—would kick off the 2012 race in D.C., it was a little confusing. Washington, after all, is not in Italy, no matter what various Neapolitan-style pizzaiolos might want you to think. Cycling officials seem to have learned that geography lesson as well; the race will now start in Denmark next year, not D.C. The bad news: A major world sporting event bypasses the District. The good news: No one has to seeGray (whose predecessor, Adrian Fenty, was the real bike fan) in racing spandex. -1

One Branded City: It’s always nice when major civic institutions receive awards for thoughtful, striking architecture. And Washington City Paper recently recognized Arena Stage’s building, so we’re especially in favor of awards for that particular architecture. But the D.C. Office of Film and Television’s latest announcement—that Arena would be the “One City Location of the Month”—seems a bit silly. Just another reason to be glad we’re not ripping off Baltimore’s old slogans; “City That Reads Location of the Month” would be even worse. -2

Pepco Pranked: This has not been a great few years for Pepco; the area’s utility has come under fire for service outages, slow responses, and just about everything in between. For April Fool’s Day, the Greenwash Guerillas targeted the power company, rendering its name as “Pepcoal” on a sign outside and posting fake ads on the Metro. It’s almost enough to make us feel sorry for them—almost. +1

Yesterday’s Needle rating: 60 Today’s score: -1 Friday bonus: +2 Today’s Needle rating: 61