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D.C. Council Gives Approval To $10.1 Billion Budget

The D.C. Council voted to approve the $10.1 billion budget, and a second and final vote is expected in June.
Larry Miller: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drmillerlg/1246397248/
The D.C. Council voted to approve the $10.1 billion budget, and a second and final vote is expected in June.

The D.C. Council yesterday approved a $10.1 billion budget that directs money to affordable housing and seniors, scraps the city's gas tax, paves the way for fare increases for Circulator buses, and pays for expanded library hours and more parks.

The spending plan—over $7 billion of which comes from local sources—was originally proposed by Mayor Vince Gray in late March, and amended slightly as council members sought to direct funds to pet projects and priorities. Gray's initiatives were largely left untouched, including part of his $100 million investment in affordable housing, though the council added money for rental assistance, homeless programs and property tax relief for senior citizens.

The council also voted to do away with a tax on out-of-state municipal bonds, drop the 23.5-cents-per-gallon gas tax in exchange for a new 8.3 percent tax on gas wholesalers, and directed revenue from future Internet sales taxes to offset decreases in traffic camera fines and to Metro.

It paved the way for fare increases on the popular Ciculator buses—from $1 currently to $1.50 with a SmarTrip card or $2 in cash—in order to finance new routes, set new traffic camera fines, and appropriated funds to pay for an expansion of operating hours at public libraries across the city. Some $50 million will be used to build new parks in the NoMa neighborhood, and funds have been set aside to kickstart the modernization of a number of schools and the city's Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library.

Gray's desire for funding to bring the Metropolitan Police Department to 4,000 officers was maintained, as were capital funds to replace aging police, fire and emergency vehicles. The council added $1.2 million to fund full-time librarians are public schools, and appropriated money to fully fund 20 council bills, including one that will allow the city to crack down on truancy.

The overall comity on the council on what's usually a divisive debate came in part due to the fact that the city has posted repeated budget surpluses and expects hundreds of million of additional revenue in the coming years. A second and final vote is expected in June.

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