- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2006

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday introduced to the D.C. Council a $7.5 billion budget for fiscal 2007 that includes $62.2 million in tax increases.

The residential deed and recordation tax that residents pay when buying or selling property would rise from 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent.

Mr. Williams, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election, proposed the increase two weeks after the council rejected a 0.1 percent rise for the same tax.

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat who is running for mayor, called the proposed increase troubling.

“I do have concerns in regards to the increase of the deed and recordation tax,” she said. “It would make it very difficult for some residents to buy homes, and that’s something we want to avoid.”

The bill rejected by council this month would have increased the residential deed and recordation tax in 2008 only in the case of a budget shortfall for school modernization.

The council approved an amended version of the bill that allows for a 0.1 percent increase in commercial property deed and recordation taxes.

The mayor’s proposal would not affect commercial property sales.

Revenue from the deed tax increase would go to two housing funds.

The mayor also proposed an increase in the 911 fee, a type of tax on phone users, from $0.62 to $1.45 per phone line per month.

Revenue from the increased 911 fee would go to 911 and 311 services.

Although overall spending would increase more than 6 percent, the mayor’s proposal includes $350 million in tax relief.

Under his plan, income taxes for residents earning less than $10,000 would be cut 0.5 percentage point to 4 percent. The city’s highest income-tax rate — for residents earning more than $40,000 — would decrease 0.2 percentage point to 8.5 percent.

The budget includes about $16 million for library improvement to enhance services and build a new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

To pay for the council’s school modernization bill, the mayor proposed $1 billion for public schools. About $260 million of that would be set aside for charter schools.

Council members Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, and Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said the budget does not do enough to increase the number of police officers. Both members are seeking re-election.

The budget would provide $4 million to keep 81 officers on the street. That money replaces federal funds that the city no longer will receive.

Several members criticized the mayor and the chief financial officer for not providing an executive summary of the budget until yesterday morning.

The briefing was based largely on information in the summary and the mayor’s testimony. The council had not seen a full copy of the budget as of yesterday afternoon.

Council committees will hold budget hearings through April 13. The committees will review the budget and propose changes between April 24 and 28. A final council vote is expected May 9.

After the council passes its version, the budget will be sent to Congress for approval by June.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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