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Hey, Virginia, Why does Alexandria Get Back Zero of its Tax Dollars?

Gale Curcio
By Gale Curcio
Posted on Nov 12,2010
Filed Under News , Community,
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Photo by John Arundel <br /> <br />The City now gets back nothing from the State of Virginia to operate essential services such as bus transportation.
Photo by John Arundel
The City now gets back nothing from the State of Virginia to operate essential
services such as bus transportation.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - In a packed room last week at the Mark Center Hilton for the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce's 2010 Annual Meeting and State of Business, City Council member Rob Krupicka dropped the bomb.
 
While the State of Virginia once chipped in $8 million to $10 million of state taxpayer dollars for the City of Alexandria to spend, it now gets nothing.
 
Nada.
 

Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks<br /> <br />It was a jam-packed agenda with the chamber update, panel program, government relations update, and annual awards presentation.
Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks
It was a jam-packed agenda with the chamber
update, panel program, government relations
update, and annual awards presentation.

Councilman Rob Krupicka got the curve ball when Chamber President Tina Leone asked him if the commercial add-on tax was fair to city businesses.

Krupicka took a three-fold approach to explain the taxes.
 
First, Alexandria doesn’t get to pick the tools that they use to fund projects. They are limited to the current system, which in Virginia is an outdated system based on an agricultural premise.

Second, "this is a terrible inflexion point," he said. "While the city once received $8 million to $10 million from the State of Virginia, it now receive zero dollars."

Third, all the surrounding counties and Washington, DC are at a crossroads. "They are at the dawn of creating a new transportation system with HOT lanes and high-speed transit," Krupicka said. "Alexandria needs to be a part of this discussion."

Krupicka finished by saying that Alexandria still has a lower net tax rate than surrounding counties as well as Washington, DC.

“We are still well positioned but we don’t have the luxury of getting what we want,” he said.
 
It was a jam-packed agenda with the chamber update, panel program, government relations update, and annual awards presentation.

A captivating panel of nonprofit heads discussed the relationship between their respective organizations and their connection to the City of Alexandria.

Bill Hanbury, president and CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area, said that they employ attorneys, HR personnel and accountants just like any other company in Alexandria and suggested that if anybody is interested that they contact United Way.

Bill Harley, the president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment (OPEI), likes being in the community, and said, “This community provides tremendous opportunity for me  and OPPI.”

Roger Conner, senior director of communications at Catholic Charities USA, said he felt there are plenty of opportunities to do more with the City. "We love the location that we’re in," Conner said. "We bring people in from all over and they love coming here.”

Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks<br /> <br />It was a jam-packed agenda with the chamber update, panel program, government relations update, and annual awards presentation.
Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks

Kathleen King, senior vice president of external relations at Catholic Charities USA, agreed. "There are wonderful opportunities in the city,” she said.

Alexandria Vice Mayor Kerry Donnelly gave some background on the initial influx of associations into Alexandria. When he was the mayor in the 1990’s, he initiated the Mayor’s Local Business Initiative and made a concerted effort to reach out to associations. There were also attractive financing packages at the time.

“It was attractive for associations to be here,” Donnelly said. “It’s close to Washington, DC; close to National Airport; and close to the Metro. We met their needs and provided financing.”

Donnelly mentioned that some associations are leaving and going to Arlington and National Harbor and said to the companies that are still here, “We’re happy that you’re here and happy that you’re staying.”

Tina Leone, the Chamber's president and CEO, added that, "We need to focus on them again.”

Panelists touched on the economy in their opening statements, with Hanbury saying, “People are hurting. Every person in this room is defined by the challenges in the City.”
 
Harley said that the economy is not horrible for them and that they are “cautiously optimistically cautious.”

King said that they are running through resources faster than they can provide services.

Donnelly added that governments around Alexandria are making investments and that there is a tremendous need in the Beauregard corridor. He would like to see the trolley expand and interconnect the different areas in the City.

Panelists took questions from the audience and then Leone reviewed highlights from last year’s.

“There has been tremendous membership growth,” said Leone, who pointed out that membership has risen from 530 members in 2009 to 855.

She pointed to the packed crowd at the breakfast, and said, “I am glad that we can create this kind of excitement.”

Leone and Charles Banta, the chairman of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and the General Manager of the Hilton Alexandria at Mark Center, then presented the annual awards.

The meeting closed with cake and cupcakes celebrating the Chamber’s 104th birthday.



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