Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Plea to City’s Voters

To the Editor:

Next November, a new mayor and City Council will be elected. However, there are a number of considerations to ponder; first, why elect someone who has made a career out of being on the City Council? Although City Council experience is a good idea, after a few terms, it may be beneficial to have fresh ideas from new members.

The following are Alexandria City Council members and their length of time in office: Del Pepper, 33 years; Paul Smedberg, 15 years; Justin Wilson, 10 years; Tim Lovain, 10 years; John Chapman, 6 years; and Mayor Allison Silberberg and Willie Bailey, who have served just one 3-year term.

Although this particular council will not tax us while running for office in 2018, they will surely inflict grave damage to our personal finances during the off election years. As an example, the 2017 property tax increase of 5.7 cents added $750 to my tax bill. With storm water and combined sewer fees, my total 2017 contribution to the city increased by approximately $1,000. Councilman Justin Wilson was directly responsible for this increase, since he convinced the other council members to adopt his tax increase initiative.

In light of this approach, I would like to ask the citizens of Alexandria why they vote for council members who exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Constantly espousing a tax and spend mentality. Perhaps voting for those who advocate the use of better financial management principles would be a better solution.
  • Continually increasing the density of an already dense city. With over 9,000 residents per square mile, Alexandria is the densest city in Virginia. This has put our traffic, parking, infrastructure, schools, demand for services and financial stability all into question. One should only vote for those who are inclined towards a sensible growth approach for future developments.
  • Continually endorsing any increase to the debt, which is currently over a half billion dollars. Even more dramatic is the annual debt service payment of around $82 million a year. Obviously these funds could be better served elsewhere, such as for the improvement of our decaying infrastructure.
  • Failing to streamline government practices. An independent performance audit of the city’s Operating, Capital Improvement and Schools Budgets is in order to ensure that the citizens of this great city are receiving cost effective, efficient and reliable services. Former Governor Wilder performed a statewide audit for then Governor Warner, and found numerous cost saving measures, that can easily be replicated in Alexandria if citizens select the right individuals for Council. If not, Alexandria only has itself to blame.

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet


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