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Council faces familiar challenge
Fredericksburg faces financial challenges in the coming years

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Date published: 6/27/2010


This week Matt Kelly and Hashmel Turner come to the end of eight years on Fredericksburg's City Council. Fred Howe III and Bea Paolucci will take over their seats representing Wards 3 and 4, respectively.

Brad Ellis and George Solley will be sworn in for fresh four-year terms representing Wards 1 and 2.

The council members who will take their oaths and then vote for a new vice mayor at the city's original Town Hall at noon Thursday have their work cut out for them.

The next four years won't be filled with the swimming-pool ribbon-cuttings, playing-field groundbreakings and openings of shiny new police stations, schools and parking garages that Kelly and Turner oversaw during their eight-year terms.

Fredericksburg faces the prospect of taking on nearly $40 million in debt to build a new courthouse.

At the same time, the city may have come to the end of the line when it comes to "doing more with less."

As council members adopted this year's budget, City Manager Beverly Cameron warned that after years of cutting employee benefits and withholding pay raises, the city has to find a way to do something for its workers--even if that means raising taxes--or it risks losing those with talent.

On top of all of that, being a small city on a big interstate highway isn't cheap.

The crime that rolls in with out-of-towners, whether they're coming to their regional business hub or just happen to be traveling up or down Interstate 95, is part of why Fredericksburg faces some of the highest per-capita costs in the state for public safety and judicial administration, according to 2009 figures available from the state's Auditor of Public Accounts.

The council has focused on building the city up as a tourist destination and regional business hub as a way to keep paying for the rising costs of government services without leaning solely on property owners.

The largest piece of that effort--the Kalahari Resorts project planned for Celebrate Virginia--will face some crucial deadlines for lining up its financing in the first few months of the new council's term.

Here is a look at how Fredericksburg compares with other Virginia localities in terms of where it gets its money and what challenges that poses for the future.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com

Fredericksburg ranks seventh in the state in the total amount of taxes and fees it collects per capita, behind six localities with far wealthier populations:

Falls Church: $4,657.72

Arlington: $4,183.48

Fairfax city: $3,616.65

Alexandria: $3,390.32

Fairfax County: $3,207.17

Loudoun: $3,189.32

Fredericksburg: $2,999.83

Surry: $2,732.32

Charlottesville: $2,611.76

Bath: $2,569.34

Fredericksburg does a good job of collecting fees and taxes from businesses and visitors, whether they are tourists or residents of the area coming to town to shop. SALES TAX

Fredericksburg is No. 2 in the state in per-capita sales-tax collections.

Norton: $499.11

Fredericksburg: $439.78

Colonial Heights: $396.80

Fairfax city: $357.53

Winchester: $304.63


Fredericksburg is No. 2 in the state in per-capita admissions-tax collections, out of 24 localities that collect this tax.

Norfolk: $15.44

Fredericksburg: $14.67

Virginia Beach: $12.48

Richmond: $8.10

Alexandria: $7.79


Fredericksburg is No. 3 in the state in per-capita meals-tax collections, out of 114 localities that collect this tax.

Williamsburg: $406.91

Abingdon: $339.24

Fredericksburg: $309.15

South Hill: $308.48

Christiansburg: $276.41


Fredericksburg is No. 18 in the state in per-capita lodging-tax collections, out of 128 localities that collect this tax.

Williamsburg: $362.68

Chincoteague: $143.62

Emporia: $115.29

Herndon: $115.16

Wytheville: $108.72

Arlington: $99.90

Abingdon: $89.75

Ashland: $80.27

Bath: $75.89

Alexandria: $74.73

York: $65.04

South Hill: $63.09

Charlottesville: $56.72

Virginia Beach: $52.84

Bristol: $52.30

Christiansburg: $50.25

Rockbridge: $48.22

Fredericksburg: $45.87

James City: $43.39

Norton: $39.90

--Auditor of Public Accounts 2009 Comparative Report

Fredericksburg gets far fewer dollars from the state to help with the costs of schools, police and roads than its neighbors do. STATE AID RECEIVED PER CAPITA

Stafford: $1,350.38

Spotsylvania: $1,327.96

Colonial Beach: $1,159.91

King George: $1,151.65

Caroline: $1,106.66

Culpeper County: $1,029.56

Orange County: $1,020.95

Fauquier: $930.25

Fredericksburg: $900.91

Westmoreland: $847.36

Louisa: $830.77

Town of Orange: $241.23

Town of Culpeper: $204.33

--Auditor of Public Accounts 2009 Comparative Report