This has been a very busy time at the Council. On Tuesday, May 24, the Council passed the Fiscal Year 2012 budget for the city. Mayor Gray submitted his FY 2012 budget to the Council on April 1. During the six weeks that followed, the Council held hearings on the budget and each committee considered and marked-up its portion. Chairman Brown then met with each Councilmember and put together a revised budget, which was passed on a first vote on Tuesday. A final vote will take place on June 14.
The budget, at over $11 billion, is the largest in the District’s history. The Council wisely repealed Mayor Gray’s attempt to raise the personal income tax, keeping the rate at 8.5%. It also rejected the proposal to tax live theatre. A number of safety net cuts made by the Mayor reducing funding for homeless and housing services were added back by the Council. Finally, the Council increased funding to the Metropolitan Police Department to ensure we have at least 3,900 sworn officers on the force.
The one item I disagreed with was the Council’s decision to tax the interest on municipal bonds. In the original Chairman’s budget, the tax on the interest would not go into effect if we have a revenue increase in June. Seven of my colleagues repealed this provision and, as of now, previously untaxed municipal bonds will be taxed at 8.5%.
Finally, 50% of our anticipated increase in revenue will be placed in our reserve fund to build this back up again. Although I believe the City spends too much money, the budget overall addresses my concerns for this year.
The other major item that was moved forward on this week was the District’s redistricting plan. I, along with Councilmembers Brown and Mendelson, have worked very hard to put together a plan that redraws Ward boundaries to conform with the new Census data. The plan was released on Tuesday and passed by the Subcommittee on Thursday. It comes to the full Council for a vote on June 7. More information on this process and the outcome will be forthcoming.