Community News

Alexandria City Council Unanimously Adopts Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Including Meal Tax Increase to 5%

By a unanimous vote on May 3, the Alexandria City Council adopted a General Fund Operating Budget of $748.4 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, which represents a 2.7% increase over the current year. The approved budget includes $252.7 million in operating funds and debt service for public schools (a 4.2%, or $10.1 million increase over FY 2018 funding), and invests $2.2 billion over 10 years in Alexandria’s Capital Improvement Program.

The adopted budget adds investments for City and School infrastructure, implementation of the City’s Vision Zero traffic safety initiative, improvements to the King Street retail corridor, expanded opioid treatment, and enhanced employee recruitment and retention. The adopted budget also includes $4.3 million in operating budget reductions across City departments.

The real estate tax rate for 2018 will remain unchanged from 2017, at $1.13 per $100 of assessed value. This will increase the average homeowner’s tax bill by 3.3%, $199 per year, or just 55 cents per day — the lowest dollar increase in six years. The transient lodging tax on customers of hotels and home-sharing properties will increase 25 cents per night.

The adopted budget anticipates a potential increase in the tax paid by customers who purchase prepared meals, with the resulting $4.75 million revenue increase budgeted to fund affordable housing initiatives. The tax rate would increase from the current rate of 4% to the state median of 5%, or an average increase of 16 cents per meal in Alexandria.  City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed meals tax increase on May 12, before determining whether to adopt the increase. The adopted budget reflects no increases in any other tax rates, or to the fee for residents who receive City refuse and recycling collection services.

The first payment of the stormwater utility fee adopted last year will be collected in June 2018, with a $140 bill for the average homeowner and no increase in the rate for the November 2018 and June 2019 payments. Versus the real estate tax, the stormwater utility fee will more equitably fund compliance with new federal and state stormwater mandates by shifting stormwater management costs to the residential and nonresidential property owners with greater impact on stormwater runoff.

In partnership with Alexandria Renew Enterprises, the City is making progress toward the new, accelerated state deadline of mid-2025 for completion of all combined sewer remediation. The adopted budget includes an increase in the sanitary sewer maintenance and capital fee of 25% (from $1.82 to $2.28), for an average increase of $25 per year per household. The City continues to work with state officials in pursuit of 20% in state funding for these $385 million remediation megaprojects.

The adopted budget is based on the budget proposed by the City Manager in February and is consistent with City’s Council’s Strategic Plan and extensive input from the community and City departments. The adopted budget underscores the City’s investment in its workforce by funding $5 million for performance-based merit increases for employees; $3.6 million for additional improvements in the recruitment and retention of sworn public safety personnel in an increasingly highly competitive job market; a new paid parental leave benefit for City employees; and an increase from $14.13 to $15 in the living wage (minimum pay) for City employees and service contractors.

To learn more about the entire budget process and view all budget documents, visit

Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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