Is Fredericksburg writing checks that it can’t cover?
City Council has approved a 9 percent budget increase for 2022, now at $105 million. New projects include the Riverfront Park for $5 million; a water and sewer treatment plant for $80 million; a fire station for $10 million; plus needed firefighters, police officers, and a new director of diversity for $80,000+ per year.
Our debt service includes the courthouse, two schools and the renovations of a third for $7 million per year, all without any new capital projects. There is no decrease in debt service until 2031, and these numbers are a “best guess,” sure to rise with inflation.
Council and the School Board are considering a new school for $50 million, and a council member with a vested interest in the schools says that may not be enough, this with a proposed building delivery date in three years. What happened to adding on to existing school buildings at a reduced cost?
Children are a major priority, and quality teachers, like city employees, need to be paid a competitive salary, but how do we pay for these things? Plunge deeper in debt, and on whose shoulders will this increasing debt be carried?
Fredericksburg has limited ways to raise money to pay for all of this, and any one item could be a budget buster. Council approved a new tax increase, justified by one member stating that “most homeowners do not live in Fredericksburg anyway.” Rents will rise, so new projects and taxes will affect all of us.