Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has presented his fiscal 2010 budget plan to the council. It cuts about $220 million in local spending and more than 1,600 positions.
But cuts aren’t the only way to balance a budget. Fenty and his aides have identified more than $185 million in new revenue, and while Hizzoner promised yesterday that there would be no tax hikes, the proposals here sure stretch the semantics of that statement.
First off, under the plan, three tax deductions and exemptions previously indexed to the regional consumer price index—-including the homestead property tax exemption—-will be frozen. And property owners will be required to pay taxes on a minimum of 40 percent of their property’s assessed valuation. Now all of these things might be sound policy decisions in the face of a fiscal crunch, but they also mean everyday folks will be paying more taxes next year than if the current policies were continued.
So why isn’t that a tax hike? Said Fenty, “Because I don’t define it as one.”
Glad we cleared that up.
Then there’s the passel of new fees, including a “streetlight maintenance fee,” new fees for film and television productions, 911 fees, and a bunch of fees from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—-in addition to adding higher parking meter fees, expanding traffic camera enforcement, and automating parking tickets.
Says fiscal watchdog Ed Lazere of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute about the budget plan, “It’s changing law, it’s increasing taxes, and it’s doing it in a regressive way.”
So make no mistake, while Hizzoner says your taxes won’t be hiked, you’ll be transferring more of your cash to the D.C. government.