Mayor Gray Submits Fiscal Year 2014 Budget to Council, Includes $400 Million for Streetcars

Photo by PoPville flickr user Rich Renomeron

From a press release:

Mayor Vincent C. Gray today released his Fiscal Year 2014 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan. The $10.1 billion budget leverages the District’s strong financial position to make major investments in expanding affordable housing, strengthening education and workforce development, and safeguarding public safety without raising new taxes or fees.

“After two years of sometimes-difficult decisions made to strengthen our fiscal health and hard work to grow our economy, we are now in the position to begin investing for tomorrow and funding our priorities at a higher level,” Mayor Gray said. “This budget makes significant investments that will boost the quality of life for all District residents — including a historic investment in the expansion of affordable housing.”

The plan’s priorities include funding for affordable housing, school construction and modernization, expanded library hours and construction, bringing the Metropolitan Police Department to 4,000 officers, and investments in streetcars and bicycle infrastructure.

The budget has three overall goals consistent with the Mayor’s One City Action Plan: 1) Grow and Diversify the District’s Economy; 2) Educate and Prepare the Workforce for the New Economy; and 3) Improve the Quality of Life for All.

Improve the Quality of Life for All

The Mayor’s budget reflects $100 million in investments over Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014 to produce or preserve 10,000 units of affordable housing by 2020. These include:

· $86.9 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund – including $66.9 million in FY 2013 and $20 million in FY 2014;

· $13.1 million to fund the other recommendations of the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force;

· A commitment to dedicating 15 percent of the District’s deed-recordation and -transfer taxes to the Housing Production Trust Fund on a recurring basis.

The budget also funds other initiatives to improve the quality of life for District residents, including:

· Fully funding 4,000 sworn officers for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD);

· $7.2 million for MPD and $8 million for the Fire & Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) Department in FY 2013 for vehicle-fleet replacement initiatives;

· Replacing $27.9 million in lost federal funds to continue reforming the District’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program;

· The beginning of a $400 million, six-year investment in the District’s streetcar program and a $6.2 million annual operating subsidy – including completion of the District’s 1st streetcar line (Minnesota Avenue to Georgetown), completion of the engineering for the Anacostia Line and a study on adding additional north-south lines;

· A $16 million investment in the District’s bicycle infrastructure, including new bike lanes and trails, continued bike-friendly improvements to streetscapes, and the addition of 10 new Capital Bikeshare stations;

· A multi-million dollar investment in expanding, improving and renovating the District’s parks and recreation facilities and programs;

· Expanding hours and days of service to seven days a week at all the District’s public libraries, and investing in a major, $103 million renovation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library as well as construction or renovation of libraries in Cleveland Park, the Palisades and Woodridge;

· Investing $15 million in the One City Fund, which will provide competitive grants of up to $100,000 a year to non-profit organizations in education, job training, health, services for seniors, the arts, public safety, and the environment;

· And pay raises for District employees – union and non-union alike – including, for most, the first raise they’ve had in between four and seven years.

Continues after the jump.

Educate and Prepare the Workforce for the New Economy

The Mayor’s budget makes major investments in public education and workforce development, including:

· Increasing investment in operating funds for public education (both traditional public and public charter schools) by $79.3 million;

· Increasing the local funds dedicated to the charter school facilities allotment by $7.4 million;

· A $162 million investment in construction and modernization of high schools, including the construction of Ballou High School, Dunbar High School, Ellington High School of the Arts, and Roosevelt High School and the modernization planning and design for Spingarn Career and Technical Education Center in FY 2014;

· The beginning of a $242 million investment over six years in modernizing all the District’s middle schools, including the construction of new Brookland and Shaw Middle Schools and complete modernization of the rest of DCPS’s middle schools;

· The first outlay – to the tune of $128 million in Fiscal Year 2014 – of a $920.5 million plan over six years for elementary-school modernization;

Grow and Diversify the District’s Economy

The budget proposal includes hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in development and infrastructure projects that will enable continued growth of the District’s economy, including:

· Up to $40 million for public infrastructure support as commercial firms redevelop the Skyland Shopping Center;
· An $18 million investment in the relocation of D.C. Water facilities from The Yards in the Capitol Riverfront area and transfer of land for a mixed-use development project;
· A $13 million investment to complete the environmental assessment of Poplar Point and prepare the land for transfer from the National Park Service to the District;
· A $622 million investment in building a new Frederick Douglass Bridge;
· And $32.4 million for Great Streets projects, including infrastructure and streetscape upgrades, in neighborhoods across the District.

Other Fiscal Year 2014 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan Highlights:

· Effects of federal sequestration “baked in” to the revenue estimate;
· Eliminates the tax on out-of-state municipal bonds;
· Repeals the Possessory Interest Tax on housing purchased under the Land Acquisition for Housing Development Opportunities (LAHDO) Program.

23 Comment

  • Imagine what that 400 million dollars could do if poured into the bus system instead of duplicating the bus system with slower vehicles.

  • This city is led by imbeciles! $400 million to a street car program that could instead go to more efficient buses or how about this…..better schools! I know they are already dumping $162 million to schools but add the other $400 million. As it stands now tax payers leave the city when their children get old enough for school or they send them to private school. Keep those tax payers in the city and FIX THE SCHOOLS!

    • Totally agree with this. smh
      Its just a shame

    • DC already spends an absurd $30k per student per year so I don’t think this would make that much of a difference. We’d be better off replacing of most of the terrible school district administration and using the $400 million on the inevitable legal fees.

  • What percentage raise will DC government employees receive?

  • Sooo no funds for any public health programs? Please let me know if I misread this…No dollars for early childhood programs?

  • MORE STREET CARS!!! We haven’t begun to spend enough on this project.

  • Why would we pour more money into more efficient buses when every study out there shows that streetcars are more efficient than buses? What am I missing here?

    • You gotta be kidding me. The streetcar in DC is going to be ridiculously successful. Buses are already over-packed and usually late.

      Yeah, a street car won’t work in less dense places, like Albany or Akron. But DC is getting denser every year.

      • brookland_rez

        Street cars are the future for DC mass transit.

        The modern streetcars are nothing like the clanking trolley cars of 100 years ago. Modern streetcars are fast, quiet, and efficient. Something that can hardly be said of buses. There’s a reason they’re still used all over the world.

      • I agree, consider the source (“Reason” my tailbone, ha!). Look up “Bustitution” on Wikipedia, the real scam was perpetrated fifty years ago, thanks to General Motors, destroyers of urban America.

        • Streetcars are here to stay in DC. For whatever reason, people prefer streetcars to buses. Streetcars almost always increase property values for nearby real estate as well. Look no further than what’s already happened on H street. As DC becomes more of a pedestrian-oriented city with a greater share of the population living in apartments/condos and not owning cars, the investment in streetcars will make even more sense.

          • Uh, H Street has streetcar *tracks* but as far as I can tell no actual streetcar. Development on H Street is only marginally related to a future streetcar there.

  • This is terrible. In order to complete this project, the city will have to hire dozens of operators, and who knows how many construction and maintenance workers. All of that money pouring into the pockets of working people, probably unionized. I’m outraged! And for what? More transportation? This is just reverse bustitution.

  • Why not improve the quality of life for all by lowering taxes?

    • Because giving my wife and I a refund of $200/year over the next 6 years will not improve my life one iota. The Streetcars will make it easier to get around, as well as increase my property values WAYYYYY more than the $1,200 my family is going to pay for these things over the next 6 years.

  • The 400 million is good, wish it was more, but this is certainly progress. I tend to think the people that constantly scream “BUS!” “BRT” etc, have likely never ridden a bus, and they would then try and water down any sort of BRT that did get implemented either way.

    • This $400 million is about $100/resident/year over the next 6 years. Lets keep the hysteria to a minimum.

      • That’s a lot!

        I ride buses about once a day, on average, and would much rather see the money go there. No reason we can’t electrify buses and get dedicated lanes to reap most or all of the benefits of street cars. Much cheaper, not hazardous to cyclists, etc.

        There is value in the permanence of street cars, I’d agree. And especially as they become integrated into a ped friendly system, they make sense. At least with dedicated lanes. But I’m not seeing that in current proposals. I’m just seeing a waste of money. Although all the improvements on H street are nice, so “waste” is a little strong.

  • This is a very interesting back and forth about streetcar. I personally think it’s crucial that we have a streetcar system – especailly since the Metro system in the city will soon be at capacity. I think the Gray budget shows that this Mayor is willing to think ahead and address long-term infrastructure, capital improvement and transit requirements that don’t provide an immediate political benefit but are the right thing to do.

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