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  • Dear Councilmember Bowser, Please Raise Our Taxes

    Posted on December 6th, 2010 Brian No comments

    Dear Councilmember Bowser,

    My wife and I are relatively new constituents of yours in Ward 4, having recently moved from Logan Circle to the 1300 block of Quincy Street. We have watched with consternation as the city has struggled to balance the budget through these difficult times. As the former ANC Commissioner for 2F03, I understand the importance of maintaining a low tax rate in order for the District to effectively compete with surrounding jurisdictions for businesses and residences. At the same time, however, I am deeply concerned that the cuts potentially on the table in the areas of public safety, economic development, and transportation will have a severe negative impact on the long-term competitiveness of the District. Though we are all tightening our belts, I believe that reduced funding and delays on such important initiatives as street cars, MPD, and education will leave us in a poorer position to rebound as the economy regains strength.

    Like many Washingtonians, Heather and I have been fortunate through this downturn. Many of our fellow citizens have been less so. It is unfair to burden with additional expenses those who can least afford it, but Heather and I certainly can. And so we ask you and your fellow Councilmembers: Please raise our taxes.

    Please raise our taxes and use the money to maintain funding for important work like additional police, street cars, multi-mode transportation initiatives, and economic development. In particular we are in full support of a small, graduated increase such as that proposed today by your colleague Councilmember Wells on the Greater Greater Washington blog.  Such an increase will not unduly burden our family, nor will it completely eliminate the gap, but it will go a long way to making ends meet for our city.  And that is a sacrifice any Washingtonian in our position must be willing to make.

    With kind regards,
    Brian & Heather Vargas

  • DC Council Cutting Vacant Property Tax Just As It Starts Working

    Posted on July 31st, 2009 Brian No comments

    Hot on the heels of my ebullient post that the vacant property tax was starting to bear fruit comes the news that the Council is going to cut the tax.  And it’s going to cost the city $10.8 million (although not until 2011) at a time when we’re facing a massive deficit.

    And why?  Councilmember Mendelson is quoted as stating that the higher tax rate makes it, “difficult for some property owners to sell or put their property back to use.”  This is bogus reasoning fails to consider that properties that are either for sale or have current building permits for in-progress construction are automatically exempted from the higher rate.

    Furthermore, at the last ANC 2F meeting Councilmember Evans attended, he stated unequivocally that the issue of cutting the vacant property tax was going to be dropped, and instead the Council would be seeking ways to better differentiate between properties that were problems and those that were not (ANC 2F May 2009 meeting minutes, page 3). Clearly, something flip-flopped Councilmember Evans’ opinion in the last three months, since it seems he now supports a continued free-ride for the longest-standing blights in our neighborhood.

    So, to summarize, we’re cutting a tax that is not only just starting to serve its purpose, but that is also raising money for the city when it needs it most.  This move is both counterproductive and foolish.