Alexandria City Council adopts budget with 2.5 cent real estate tax rate increase

Alexandria City Council voting on the FY 2025 budget (image via City of Alexandria)

Alexandrians will see their taxes go up this year, with most of that going to help Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS).

The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved the FY 2025 General Fund Operating Budget at a quick meeting last night. The operating budget totals $926.4 million — a 4.8% increase over last year’s budget.

That budget included a 2.5-cent increase in the real estate tax, meaning the average single-family homeowner will pay $483 more than last year. The average condominium owner will pay $285 more this year than last year.

Mayor Justin Wilson noted in a newsletter that this marks the first real estate tax rate increase in seven years and follows a tax rate reduction three years ago.

The City Council approved a $14.3 million increase to the ACPS operating budget, including an additional $4 million added in the add/delete process.

Wilson said one common misconception about the budget process is just how much of the budget goes to education and other basic functions like public safety.

“This is my fourteenth and final budget,” said Wilson, who is not running for reelection as Mayor. “I had to admit, thinking through this process and thinking about what we’ve learned; one of the things I don’t think the community often understands is that two-thirds of this budget we just adopted is education, public safety, and debt service for infrastructure.”

Wilson said city leaders don’t have as much wiggle room as many in the city think when it comes to funding other priorities. Even the $14 million increase to the ACPS operating budget still falls short of the $21 million requested by the School Board.

“Two-thirds of this budget is in those policy areas alone,” Wilson said. “While we spend a lot of time talking about a lot of other things — what is ultimately moving the needle on revenue and expenditure pressures is the bread and butter of local government.”

After years of the city riding a boost from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), City Council member John Chapman also noted that this was the first year that well ran dry.

American Rescue Plan funding peppered the budget in areas like the Health Department, the Department of Community and Human Services, and the Sheriff’s Office.

“This is the first time ARPA funds were not readily available to close some gaps,” said Chapman. “Seeing how we deal with that — with programs started under ARPA coming to an end or finding an opportunity to reprioritize —  that will be something the community will want to watch.”