Updates from Letty – September 9, 2022

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,

I hope your fall is off to a great start – the City Council is coming out of our summer recess with our first meeting next Monday night. This week’s update will be brief as I settle back into a more regular posting schedule – I’ll share my thoughts on 1) your personal property bill (aka, car tax) and 2) what I hope will be one of my last updates on Covid-19 as we learn to live with the virus.

You’ll have many opportunities to engage with us this month. Besides emails and public comment at our regular meetings (see schedule below), I’m resuming office hours next Monday at 12 pm at Mr Brown’s Park (in case of rain, I’ll post venue change here). We’ll also be stationed at the Falls Church Festival and resume our monthly “Meet the Council” office hours at the end of September.

Take care,

What Happened This Month:

(1) Personal Property Tax Bills

ICYM the city’s news flash or haven’t yet received your personal property tax bill (aka, car tax) – expect that your bills will likely have increased compared to last year. Due to supply chain issues impacting production and high demand for used cars – car values (for which the city and other neighboring localities rely on a 3rd party source) have actually increased in the past year, whereas cars typically depreciate over time. This year, 85% of the vehicles in the city increased in value compared to a typical year of 15%.

In the spring when we were developing the FY23 budget, we had anticipated this increase in car values and hence already lowered the personal property tax rate by 70 cents from $5.00 per $100 assessed value to $4.30 to blunt the taxpayer impact. However, assessed values rose even more than those early 2022 projections, so the decrease in tax rate hasn’t been enough to completely negate the increase in your tax bill. As the actuals come in, I expect the City Council will have further discussion on these higher than planned revenues and we can consider any actions we can take to alleviate the burden on taxpayers.

(2) Covid-19 Update

Meetings: As we discussed in August, we’ll be voting to lift our local state of emergency next week that has been in place since April 2020, effective in October. This will be a notable milestone in this long 2.5 year pandemic rollercoaster we’ve navigated through together. Besides the return to “normal” with school, economic activity, travel, and more – an implication with local government is that we’ll fully return to in person meetings, while keeping a virtual option available for the public as much as we can (It’s disappointing that we don’t have authority from the General Assembly for public bodies to hold virtual meetings outside of an emergency as we’ve seen first hand that government can be just as effective, if not more so because participation also increases.) We’ll also need to take action on the zoning flexibility we created in 2020 to allow for more outdoor dining , which has now become a mainstay at many restaurants.

The TL;DR: if you decide to attend an upcoming city meeting, we look forward to seeing you back in person or you can look at the meeting agenda for a virtual option.

Boosters: here’s a gentle nudge to book an appointment for the updated bivalent Covid booster now available at all of the local pharmacies and health departments for everyone aged 12+. When I made our appointments last weekend, there were plentiful appointments and locations around Falls Church. Flu shots will be next!

What’s Coming Up:

Monday, September 12 – 12 pm – Letty’s Office Hours (Mr Brown’s Park)

Monday, September 12 – City Council Meeting*

Saturday, September 17 – Falls Church Festival

Monday, September 19 – City Council Work Session*

Tuesday, September 27 – City Council Meeting* (moved to Tuesday due to Rosh Hashanah)

Wednesday, September 28 – 9 am – Meet the Council Office Hours (City Hall)

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