Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On the budget

Dear Mayor Miles and Council Members Tarlau and Updike:
When I bought my home here a little over three years ago, the estimated property taxes gave me pause. However, home prices were low enough compared to the District that I took the plunge. I'm glad I did because I think Mount Rainier has a bright future. Our first priority should be to find more revenue in order to provide residents with the services they want. We should follow Hyattsville's example and annex adjacent commercial properties aggressively. I would also support temporarily raising taxes enough to maintain current service levels. Ultimately, I would like to see the tax rate go down, but first we need to increase our tax base. 

If the City Council has to make cuts, we need to be careful not to cut our feet out from underneath us. For example, the police department is not fully staffed. Skimping on police protection will tend to hurt our property values and erode our tax base. Crime has been reduced in Mount Rainier, but I would go so far as to suggest filling the vacant police position. Let's kick crime while it's down and eliminate problem areas like the BP Station at Eastern and Varnum for good. We should also consider investing in an economic development staffer, like we've had before, who can focus on increasing our prosperity while freeing up other staff to provide essential services. Finally, anything that tends to improve the public’s perception of Mount Rainier, and consequently attracts businesses and residents, would be a good investment now. This could include blight remediation, tree planting, code enforcement, and miscellaneous beautification projects.

Jesse Christopherson

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