City Desk

The Needle: Budget Blues Edition

Today's Needle Rating: 61

Talkin' About Money: After weeks of signaling no tax increases would be forthcoming, Mayor Vince Gray unveiled his 2012 budget with... a brand-new 8.9 percent tax bracket on people making more than $200,000. The budget also includes major cuts to social services, new fees on DMV requests, new parking fees, and a doubling of the Circulator cash fare from $1 to $2 ($1.50 with SmarTrip), among other items. Given how tight the city's finances are, the tax increases seem preferable to even deeper service cuts. Better news: The budget would allow D.C. liquor stores to stay open until midnight, rather than closing at 10 p.m.—which means all the rich people can drink away the pain of paying higher taxes! +1

Giro d'Washington: When District officials announced a couple years ago that the Giro d'Italia—one of the biggest cycling events in Europe—would kick off the 2012 race in D.C., it was a little confusing. Washington, after all, is not in Italy, no matter what various Neapolitan-style pizzaiolos might want you to think. Cycling officials seem to have learned that geography lesson as well; the race will now start in Denmark next year, not D.C. The bad news: A major world sporting event bypasses the District. The good news: No one has to see Gray (whose predecessor, Adrian Fenty, was the real bike fan) in racing spandex. -1

One Branded City: It's always nice when major civic institutions receive awards for thoughtful, striking architecture. And Washington City Paper recently recognized Arena Stage's building, so we're especially in favor of awards for that particular architecture. But the D.C. Office of Film and Television's latest announcement—that Arena would be the "One City Location of the Month"—seems a bit silly. Just another reason to be glad we're not ripping off Baltimore's old slogans; "City That Reads Location of the Month" would be even worse. -2

Pepco Pranked: This has not been a great few years for Pepco; the area's utility has come under fire for service outages, slow responses, and just about everything in between. For April Fool's Day, the Greenwash Guerillas targeted the power company, rendering its name as "Pepcoal" on a sign outside and posting fake ads on the Metro. It's almost enough to make us feel sorry for them—almost. +1

Yesterday's Needle rating: 60 Today's score: -1 Friday bonus: +2 Today's Needle rating: 61

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  • Legends

    +1 for a heap of new taxes and fees? wtf?

    why not just write checks out to kwame, vince, and harry instead? this is where it goes fool.

    no more taxes. this shit is gettin crazy.

  • Mike Madden

    More taxes on people making $200,000 a year is far better than more cuts to services for people making $20,000. Hence the +1.

  • Legends

    Nice try, Mike.

    Your +1 gets Kwame his aluminum rims. Your +1 allows inefficient and bloated government programs to continue. Your +1 is what keeps DC, well, DC.

    As long as we keep this way, statehood is but a pipe dream. I bet we could raise taxes to help fund that cause as well. Sound good, Mike?

    The point is not the $$$. We know the high earners can afford it. You gotta look at the bigger picture and think about the long term sustainability of the city. We can't keep raising taxes and fees to pay for a budget that has grown by 60% in the last 8 years. 60%!

    Until we control spending, the elected folk will keep coming back to ME and YOU asking for more. You wanna ay more, Mike? Cut a check right now to Thomas, Gray, Barry, or Kwame and let them do with it what they'd like.

    If you read the paper (other than Shitty Paper), you'll see exactly what they are doing with it.

  • Mike Madden

    Why is it unsustainable to raise taxes (especially on high earners) to a level that roughly matches surrounding counties?

    And yes, you're right, there's no coverage at all in City Paper of Harry Thomas Jr., Vince Gray, Kwame Brown, or Marion Barry.

  • Legends

    our budget growth is whats unsustainable. how can anyone possibly justify 60% growth in 8 years? spending more per student that any school district in the nation, but coming away with the poorest results. see what im getting at? raising taxes just perpetuates the notion that this is ok.

    bottom line: dc guv cannot keep nickel and diming us to death. fees and tax increases are not going to help us in the long term. we are already the least competitive in the region.

    example: my friend works on the exec team at living social. 300 employees in chinatown in 4 buildings. great for the district and the hood. guess what? they can pay far, far less in property and corporate tax just across the bridge in VA. guess what? thats what they say they will have to do sooner than later.

    your paper should do more than just advocated for save our safety net and empower dc. you should take a longer and harder look at the broad issues first. you guys dont. jerkis, lydia....all the same.

  • Rick Mangus

    Why is the writer of this article commenting on what readers say, again this rag has no journalistic standards! As far as raising taxes for high income people, I being one of those people I'm sick and tired of paying for unappreciative freeloaders living in city payed hotel rooms and then bitch about it! I am sick and tired of irresponsible men and women in this town bring in to the world another generation of bastard children who will end up as criminals because their parents were losers!

    Public assistance should only last for two years period, it has turned in to a way of life not a safety net! A one child limit if you want public assistance any more kids you pay for! It's all about personal responsibility, why should hard working people who have goals and a responsible life pay for the stupidity of a few!

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