Alexandria City Manager Announces Revisions to Proposed FY 2021 Budget Based on COVID-19 Pandemic
For Immediate Release: April 7, 2020
On April 7, City Manager Mark Jinks announced revisions to his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 operating and capital budgets for the City of Alexandria, responding to the nearly $100 million budget gap created by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised proposal for a $753.3 million operating budget in FY 2021 is 5.8% lower than the $799.9 million operating budget Jinks proposed on February 18, and represents a 1.6% decrease from the current-year operating budget.
“When I proposed my FY 2021 budget less than two months ago, the City’s economy was expanding, revenue was growing steadily, and prospects for long-term growth were very good,” said Jinks. “The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the biggest health crisis in a century, and caused what may be one of the biggest, most sudden economic downturns the nation has ever seen. While we don’t yet know the full extent to which this deadly virus will impact Alexandria residents, businesses and City government, I am recommending significant budget changes to continue the City’s record of prudent fiscal management, while relieving some of the burden on taxpayers and focusing on delivering core services to our community.”
Prior revenue projections have been reduced by $35.8 million for FY 2020 (ending June 30) and $56.4 million for FY 2021 (July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021). Some of the recommended budget revisions to close these gaps include:
Cancelling the previous proposal to raise the 2020 real estate tax rate to fund City and Schools capital projects. This would mean rescheduling the beginning phases of the Waterfront Park and Flood Mitigation plan to FY 2023, and the high school facility project at the Minnie Howard Campus to FY 2023. The new MacArthur Elementary School project would proceed on schedule.
Cancelling previously proposed pay increases for City employees in FY 2021, and freezing new hiring, with few exceptions, for the remainder of FY 2020 and much of FY 2021. The recommended operating transfer to the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) has been reduced by an amount equivalent to previously proposed pay increases for ACPS staff. The final decision on ACPS employee compensation rests with the Alexandria School Board.
Cancelling many previously proposed program enhancements, totaling $2.1 million of $3.9 million proposed.
Reducing the scope of several projects in the 10-year Capital Improvement Program or deferring them from FY 2021 to a future fiscal year.
Using fund balances specifically set aside for economic downturn and emergencies.
The revised budget proposal allocates $1.0 million to the Alexandria Health Department from potential federal funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to be used along with potential state funding for increased epidemiological staffing. Although the Alexandria Health Department is a division of the Virginia Department of Health, more than 50% of its budget is funded by the City.
Jinks will further present his budget recommendations to City Council and the community at the April 14 City Council meeting. On April 18, City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget and effective real estate tax rate. City Council will then hold work sessions on April 21 and April 27, and is scheduled to adopt the FY 2021 budget and FY 2020 tax rates on April 29. All of these meetings will be held online in order to observe physical distancing guidelines. For details about how to view these meetings or participate in the public hearing, check the listing at alexandriava.gov/Calendar a few days before each event.
The City Manager’s full message to City Council and the community, as well as details about the revised budget proposal, public budget presentation, public meetings and online comments, are available at alexandriava.gov/Budget.
For media inquiries or reasonable disability accommodation, contact Andrea Blackford, Senior Communications Officer, at email@example.com or 703.746.3959, Virginia Relay 711.
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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/114593.