April 5th, 2023
Faraldi for Lynchburg
— Vice Mayor Chris Faraldi Issues Statement on Real Estate Rate & Comments From the Attorney General —
Lynchburg, VA — Last night, Lynchburg City Council conducted a Public Hearing on multiple topics, specifically the Real Estate Tax Rate for the next two years. Over seventy-five residents expressed public comment on the matter. Later that evening, there was an attempt by four members of council to set the rate at $0.89 per $100 of assessed value. It was motioned by Councilman Helgeson and seconded my Councilman Taylor. Mayor Reed initially ruled this motion out of order as it was not presented on the agenda for the meeting outright. This decision was appealed by a vote of 4-2. Then, a substitute motion to table the discussion to the next regular business meeting failed by a vote of 4-2, thus returning the main motion of setting the rate before the council.
After a discussion with the City Attorney, Councilmember Helgeson amended his motion to direct City Hall to produce the proper ordinances and other statutory requirements per city and state code, etc. that would set the rate at $0.89, and the proper vote on the ordinance could be made in the near future. This motion passed 4-2, with Vice Mayor Faraldi supporting this measure.
Following the actions from last night, Vice Mayor Faraldi provided the following comments:
No doubt, yesterday was a long, long meeting. I want to thank City Staff for working through many challenges to accommodate a peaceful and productive Public Hearing that lasted until 2:30 am. I am especially thankful for the officers from multiple law enforcement agencies and the Lynchburg Fire Department who worked diligently to clear City Hall of any threats to the public. It was a sobering reminder of the deep level of appreciation we all should have for those who put their lives on the line, for our sake, every single day. Truly, thank you all.
For some time, council has been wrestling with the best way to return tax dollars to residents. It is not lost on me the contention that has been perceived by the public as council deliberated "immediate tax relief" or "tax relief through the budget process." I have been on the side of "tax relief through the budget process" for many reasons, but mainly because it accomplishes the goal of returning your dollars to your bank account long term, not simply one time.
Last night also reminded me of two perspectives of how to approach a budget; either what or how can we spend your dollars on, followed by setting rates to pay for those items — or, how families and businesses make financial decisions, determine how many dollars are available to put towards priorities and mandates, and then allocate accordingly. I, and many others, align with the latter.
As a conservative, I believe I have a duty to be responsible with your dollars. As a conservative representative, I believe it is my responsibility to show the government what resources are available to get the job done.
It is clear to me that setting the Real Estate Rate at $0.89 is the right way to go. I have said this for some time now. This rate leaves a 5% increase to the General Fund, equipping council to responsibly invest your dollars into the core responsibilities of government as able — public safety, education, infrastructure, and core services — while generating millions of dollars in savings for property owners. There is also a strong opportunity to find relief for those who do not own there home, something I have pushed for in this budget cycle.
This rate also challenges council to work with city staff to tighten the belt of government and focus.
For me, that means reducing new spending proposals not related to public safety and other priorities or mandates. It means amending the Capital Improvement Plan to focus on true necessities, not fancy projects. For public education, it means prioritizing the classroom over administration. It all means working through every single new spending proposal and deciding if now is the time for it.
In the end, it means getting creative to amend this budget to a place where services are not cut, but spending aligns with priorities. Now, City Hall has the direction they need to craft a budget that fits with the taxes at hand. As the budget process continues to unfold, I am committed to this path, and I know my colleagues are too.
For the last twenty years, Lynchburg has witnessed a council that did not fully prioritize the taxpayer, first and foremost. In November, that changed. Last night, it was solidified.
The Vice Mayor also offered this statement in response to a press release (attached) from the Attorney General of Virginia:
At the outset, Virginia has a great Attorney General. From day one, I have been an advocate for Jason Miyares and his vision for a safer Commonwealth. He is doing good work and I commend his entire office for placing great emphasis on law, order, victims, and justice. We need more leaders like him and I am profoundly thankful for his leadership.
I know first-hand the needs of our public safety departments because I have seen them first-hand through many ride-alongs, sit-ins, and personally responding to structure fires and other traumatic events. The Lynchburg Police, Fire, and Dispatch departments, plus the offices of Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney need to have historic investment. I know this council is set to deliver on this.
As I have said since my campaign was announced in 2020, my commitment to public safety investment is a top priority and will be apparent to all. My advocacy on council has and will continue to demonstrate my commitment to safer streets for residents.
Unfortunately, someone went out of their way to mislead the Attorney General of Virginia. This is clear because his statement is based around some pending "vote" where this Republican lead council will vote to cut public safety funding for the City of Lynchburg. There never is, was, or will be such a consideration, and it would be unconscionable to make such a proposal. Candidly, I have no idea who this disinformation came from, but I think folks have a right to know. Again, it is very unfortunate.
I look forward to an opportunity to, hopefully, personally reassure the Attorney General that Lynchburg will be a leader in public safety by making historic investment(s) in the 2024 Fiscal Year.
Chris Faraldi, a conservative Republican, is the Ward IV Representative and Vice Mayor of Lynchburg City Council.