Opinion

Beware of Bill Euille’s “Growth Monster” — Mayor’s Vision Will Change City’s Character Forever | Letter to the Editor | Stephen Ryan

Dear Editor,

Mr. Euille warns us to be afraid of the Alexandria “Naysayers”. He accuses the elected democratic nominee for mayor, Alison Silberburg, of being uninformed and in over her head – not fit for office. He claims she lacks understanding of complex fiscal matters.

And because of this Mr. Euille feels compelled to run as a write-in candidate for mayor despite making a promise to support the democratic nominee. He says he is running because he cares so much about the city he has lived in for so many years. Well I have news for Mr. Euille -if he wants to challenge Ms. Silberburg on matters of finance he needs to do his own homework and better understand the fundamentals of finance. I am a professional financial advisor and I would like to recommend the mayor start with reviewing finance 101 and refresh his memory about the “The Power of Compounding” or the 7/10 rule i.e. money (traffic) doubles every ten years growing at 7%.

I am not sure Mr. Euille fully understands what havoc his growth monster, pro-commercial real-estate policies, can wreck upon the character of city of Alexandria if growth is left unchecked.  But before I explain let me say a few things about my connection to the city of Alexandria.

I lived in Alexandria for a long time as well. I moved into Alexandria in 1968. I attended Macarthur Elementary, St. Stephens and St. Agnes and Bishop Ireton and I can tell you Mr. Euille is not the only one who cares deeply about this city. And his pro-development vision of the city is not the only vision for our town and it is most certainly not mine. Today I work in Old Town Alexandria as does my wife. I moved to South Alexandria a few years ago in part because of traffic.

I care deeply about this city I call my home town. Mr. Euille’s statements about his vision for the future upset me and so yesterday I called the City of Alexandria and talked with communication Director, Chris Fifer, about the Alexandria City Budget to see what I could learn about the city’s budget. Mr. Fifer was very helpful and directed me the city’s five year budget plan.

The five year plan is terrifically well done. I am sure Mr. Euille has reviewed the document and so it is no wonder the Mayor is so desperate to push his extreme commercial real-estate development agenda. According to Mayor Bill Euille, Alexandria citizens are going to get a big fat tax increase because of his own fiscal policies. In the city’s report real estate taxes are set to rise 22.5% over the next five years per household “necessary to sustain current policies”

This dramatic tax increase is on its way despite the city’s slow growing population which according to the Virginia Employment Commission is expected to grow only 3% over that same period.

To pay for this looming tax increase Mr. Euille and his real estate cronies – the “yaysayers” including Alexandria banker and former Mayor Kerry Donly are using scare tactics to keep the commercial real estate engines firing on all cylinders. It seems Mr. Euille is desperately trying to sell trickledown economics to Alexandria citizens hoping that growing the commercial real estate tax base will offset the tax bill homeowners are very likely to receive because of the Mayors policies. For 11 years Mr. Euille’s administration has had the opportunity to find the right balance between growth and maintaining the character of the city with the payoff of fiscal benefits to our citizens. Instead of reduced tax burdens, homeowners are facing higher and higher tax bills. Why should we believe Euille when he tells us he just needs a little more time to get Alexandria to his promised land.

Mr Euille’s growth monster will result in massive unforeseen traffic problems (remember Mr. Euille the finance 101 rule – the power of compounding – traffic will double over time) and higher taxes when the musical chairs of commercial development stops. Any kind of economic down turn will result in a potentially crippling tax burden for businesses and citizens of Alexandria. What we should be really afraid of is Mr. Euille’s vision of Alexandria – a future that could change the character of this city – a unique character that makes our town so wonderful and attractive.

Finally, Mr. Euille is not only reckless and demeaning towards Alison Silberburg with his statements that she is not experienced enough to take over the city but he is also very insulting to his own Democratic voters who carefully evaluated the candidates and took time out of their day to vote.

Stephen Ryan

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