Issues

Jeanette Rishell

Mayor Of Manassas Park

Successful FY2018 Budget
    
As we all know, the debt service owed by the City spiked by several million dollars for the FY2018 budgeting year. This was a real challenge for our City to surmount. All Departments brought forward the leanest departmental budgets possible. So the budget that was analyzed and eventually voted on by the Governing Body was balanced and needs based. It was balanced through several mechanisms. First, City debt that was eligible was re-financed for significant savings. Second, about a half dozen City staff positions will go unfilled in order to achieve savings there. And third, some capital improvement projects will be postponed, with the knowledge that we cannot kick the can down the road indefinitely for these projects.
     The City was able to provide a modest increase in funding to the Schools, and a 1% pay raise for staff (plus an added Public Safety increase of .05%)
     We were mindful that the City must be careful not to establish significant recurring costs, because the debt service will again spike next year for the FY2019 budgeting season. The next increase will not be as great as this fiscal year, but will nevertheless have an affect on the budget. Many thanks to all staff who worked hard to make the FY2018 budget a lean one. We will continue to pursue savings at every opportunity.


Removal of Requirement to Display Vehicle Decal
     The removal of this requirement has come up several times for discussion by the Governing Body over the last several years. Recently a very thorough report was provided to the Governing Body to assist us with our deliberations. A public hearing was held May 2nd, public comments were received, and at the May 16th meeting, council voted to approve removal of the decal display requirement.
     It was felt that decals were no longer needed due to electronic advancements. Decals were simply the physical representation that the license fee has been paid on the vehicle. So please NOTE: All residents of Manassas Park must still pay their vehicle license fees.
     Right now not all residents put their decal on their vehicle despite the fact they have paid their license fee, and have the decal. And about 50% of the localities in the Commonwealth have phased out the use of decals. For example, Manassas City, Prince William County, Vienna, Culpepper and Fauquier County no longer issue the actual decal. Manassas City indicated to us that they experienced no negative impacts from their decal phase out.
     There are options that the Commissioner of Revenue can use to keep City records current. There is a monthly electronic download from the DMV that contains all the vehicles listed as being garaged in our City. If someone moves into the City midmonth, then they will be listed in the DMV download the following month.
     When someone accidently registers their vehicle to another jurisdiction, such as Manassas, that Commissioner of Revenue office over there logs into the DMV files and corrects that mistake. Likewise our Commissioner corrects mistakes for other localities.
     Also, our Treasurers Office provides to the Commissioner of Revenue, copies of all water and sewer applications (both owners and renters) of those who move into the City. This is another way for the Commissioner of Revenue to know who is moving into the City and therefore who probably owns a vehicle.  And the City will issue reminders to register vehicles and to pay vehicle license fees, by placing notices in the utility bills from time to time.
     Next is Enforcement. There is most definitely enforcement and ticketing in the neighborhoods. The Police Department will continue working with the Treasurer and the Commissioner of Revenue to identify violators. The Police Department will assist by having patrols routinely and periodically check problem areas, identify violators and forward the appropriate information for enforcement.
     In addition to the removal of the requirement to display a decal, there is also a fee increase to cover the administrative costs that have increased over time for processing the license fees. There has not been an increase since 2000, and that’s 17 years. Prior to that there was no increase since 1985. The departments did a general tally of staff time spent on processing license fees, the increase in the number of accounts processed, etc. and this demonstrated the need for a fee increase. In the last several decades, both the Treasures Office and the Commissioner of Revenue have each converted one part time employee to a full time employee. So the 2 part time conversions combined resulted in a staffing impact of one full time employee being added.    
     The population of our City has also increased. In 2000 the population of the MP was 10,290 (US census data) and now the population has exceeded 16,000 (Weldon Cooper stats). With greater population came an increased number of vehicle license fees to process. These numbers indicate about a 56% increase in license fee handling alone. For these reasons, we felt that the processing of these fees and this service required a $6 fee increase. In this way the fees charged for a particular service will fully fund the service that is provided.
     The City will closely monitor incoming revenue, projected revenue and any other issues over the next few years to determine how successful these changes are.


Manassas Park Named 6th Safest City in Virginia
     Our City has again made the list of Virginia’s safest Cities by Alarm.org. Manassas Park has moved up to 6th place in Virginia based upon FBI crime statistics in conjunction with Alarm.org internal research and population data. Congratulations to all of our public safety employees, who make Manassas Park a safe place to live, work and raise a family.
For more details go to:
https://www.alarms.org/the-safest-cities-in-virginia-2017/