Updates from Letty – April 19, 2024 – budget edition #3

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council

Dear Friends,

It’s a busy time of year with budget season in full swing and spring activities underway. This weekend, join the City Council and the community in the spring clean up, Arbor Day celebrations, and more. Two main topics this week:

  • Thank you for all the input on the budget so far. We’re about halfway through the season and City Council has been rolling up our sleeves. IMO, far better than the official presentations are the Q&As so you can see our areas of focus. Keep your comments coming via email, at our upcoming public meetings, or office hours. See below for some highlights, including interesting data about mixed use development diversifying our tax base.
  • Read on for the latest on business openings around town. There is much good happening in the community and an exciting year ahead. I expect announcements for the former baby Target space and at the West Falls project in the coming week!

Happy spring,

What Happened This Week:

(1) FY25 Budget Season

From our work session this week, we heard from our new police chief about public safety priorities and investments and then deep dives into the operating budget. Because we are in the fortunate position to expect strong revenue growth (albeit with the wildcard about Metro funding I wrote about last week), the staff-proposed budget includes investments in a number of staff in key areas (+16 FTEs, listed below), process improvements, and project delivery for a growing community. The deck is a good overview and worth a skim.

General Government headcount from FY05-FY25

In response to community requests for the specific street paving and pedestrian safety work that will be funded in the budget – here are more details:

Finally – as I mentioned in the opening, the running list of Q&As is usually one of the best reads during the budget process, so I encourage you to look at that. You can really tell the depth and breadth that City Council members are diving into the budget and taking to heart our fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers. (There’s also a school specific Q&A too.)

One Q&A I’ll highlight in particular is the chart showing real estate mix over the past 10 years, as a result of diversifying our tax base with development. This is important to pay attention to, as real estate taxes make up the 51% of our revenues. In the chart below, Falls Church is the only jurisdiction that decreased the % of residential real estate (therefore slowly alleviating the tax burden on residential homeowners) because we added multifamily. And while everyone’s commercial real estate % went down in the past 10 years, we’re much closer to the middle of the pack now

(2) New Business Openings / Announcements

One of the most popular topics is new businesses and status of the projects around town – so in case you’ve missed some recent announcements, this is a good recap, with the full deck available here:

What’s Coming Up:

Wednesday, April 24 – Budget Town Hall #2 (12 pm, City Hall & virtual)

Monday, April 29 – City Council Meeting – Budget Public Hearing #2 & Work Session*

Wednesday, May 1 – City Council Office Hours (9 am, City Hall)

Monday, May 6 – City Council Meeting – Budget Markup*

Friday, May 10 – Letty’s Walking Office Hours (9 am, Cherry Hill Park)

Monday, May 13 – City Council Meeting – Budget Adoption*

*Mondays (except 5th Mondays and holidays) at 7:30 pm. You can access the agenda and livestream here, including recordings of past meetings