D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh’s lightened the tone of what’s been a fairly contentious budget process with the release late Tuesday of a memo outlining her committee “priorities” in advance of an initial vote Tuesday on the city spending plan:
To: Members of the Council of the District of Columbia
From: Mary M. Cheh, Chairperson of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment
Re: Summary of Significant FY 2012 Budget Recommendations
Date: May 24, 2011
Tomorrow, we will take our first vote on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. As a convenience to all, this memorandum highlights the major Budget Support Act recommendations for my committee, which are as follows:
1. Create an additional value added tax on all processed food or foods contained in plastic packaging. This revenue stream shall be allocated solely towards replacing unhealthy high-sugar foods with broccoli in all vending machines in the District. The obvious latent demand for easily accessible delicious florets will address any concerns about the shelf life of this exquisite greenery. The Committee anticipates this will create a savings in healthcare costs of no less than $20,000,000. When such savings materialize, they shall be used to retrofit all District government buildings with a full service Starbucks.
2. For the purpose of encouraging the arts in the District of Columbia, the Committee recommends an allocation of $5,000,000 in capital funds to the new Department of General Services to construct an amphitheater along the Klingle Trail in Ward 3. Owing to the efficiency of a much-enlarged agency and the anticipated unanimous agreement among residents, the project is expected to be completed in 90 days. Additionally, $500,000 shall be transferred from the Executive Office of the Mayor to the Commission on Arts and Humanities. These funds shall be used to write, cast, and produce a play entitled Sulaimon Brown’s Service: The Musical. It should be noted, however, that the name is something of a misnomer as the title character, despite much mention, does not ever appear in the production.
3. As part of its continuing effort to engage Congressional attention to the District’s lack of voting rights, the Committee recommends an increase in capital funds ($580,000,000) allocated to the District Department of the Environment to facilitate the relocation of the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant to a new installation just upwind of the United States Capitol. The Committee notes, however, that it would reconsider relocating the facility should more space near the Capitol be needed to accommodate new Congressional offices for a newly added state. Funds for the relocation of the facility shall be, in part, offset by tolls placed at ingress and egress points to federal facilities located in the District.
4. The Committee takes notice that the ten-year review of the campus plans of Georgetown University, American University and the University of the District of Columbia has caused far too much community discord in the District of Columbia. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the government of the District of Columbia, in line with an exercise of the takings clause expressed in Kelo v. City of New London, hereby condemns and seizes all land and the physical structures located therein of the above mentioned Universities. The properties shall be respectively converted into a subway station, the nation’s largest dog park, and a strip mall. We anticipate that the condemnation will cost approximately $1 billion. This will be amortized over twenty years, and we will allocate the tax revenue generated by the strip mall to a special purpose fund to pay the full amount over that period of time.
5. Create a special purpose revenue fund to collect the revenues from a new entertainment-related rental service at the Wilson Building known as “Screen in the SUV.” For a fee to be determined by the Mayor, residents will have the opportunity to reserve time in one of two Lincoln Navigators at the Wilson Building for screenings of their favorite movies, television shows, and votes on ceremonial resolutions. Rental pricing varies by the interior type and color of each vehicle. All reservations are final and may not be cancelled after confirmation. Revenues from the special purpose revenue fund will be used to subsidize SmartCars in the District.