Proposed budget would increase property taxes for some DC residents

The D.C. Council has given initial approval on a proposed budget that would include increased property taxes for some residents and reverse some cuts.

The initial vote on Wednesday is one of two, with the second vote being scheduled for June before the proposed budget is sent to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The proposed budget included a number of amendments to Bowser’s proposal, which was unveiled in April.

Under the proposal approved Wednesday, council chair Phil Mendelson suggested an increase to the property tax rate on single-family homes and condo units valued at more than $2.5 million.

If ultimately approved, Mendelson’s office said this would apply to roughly 2,800 homes.

"What it does is it bifurcates property tax, so residential properties under $2.5 million in value continue to pay the same rate. Properties over that on the increment over $2.5 million would pay a higher rate," Mendelson said Wednesday.

Another proposed amendment was a $70 million restoration towards the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund, which was initially proposed to be cut under Bowser’s plan.

Mendelson said Wednesday that he was confident in the council’s support of the changes.

"I believe there will be some amendments. Some may be successful. Some may not be. They deal with issues with the margin of the budget," he said. "I wouldn’t say I’m happy. I don’t like the fact that there are a lot of social justice programs like affordable housing where we are still falling short of the mark. There are environmental cuts that we were unable to reverse, actually some real damage there. There's still some controversy with regard to public education. I’m not sure I ever characterized the budget as something ‘happy’ but this reflects a lot of input."

Mendelson also highlighted the following pieces of his budget proposal:

  • Reallocating $25.4 million from DCPS Central to schools
  • $3.5 million for one additional, permanent teaching position for each elementary school in Wards 7 and 8
  • Increasing the number of new housing vouchers to 477
  • Proposing an increase of $6 million in one-time funds, for a total of $26.9 million for Emergency Rental Assistance Program
  • $1.8 million in one-time funds for a total of $11.5 million for Homeless Prevention Services for individuals and families
  • Restores the budget for Access to Justice to $31.7 million, restoring cuts made in Bowser’s budget
  • Increases universal paid leave program contribution rate from Bowser’s proposed .62% to .75%, generating an additional $76.1 million in fiscal year 2025

The meeting was attended by several members of the community, including Khadijah Williams who lives in Ward 1. Williams has lived in D.C. for eight years.

"D.C. has gentrified just extensively over the past decade. It’s not only important that we have a budget that’s not only supportive of our thriving communities in terms of businesses but also for our communities. Our communities build DC. It’s what makes D.C., D.C.," she said.

Mayor Bowser expressed some concerns over the proposed changes. In a letter sent to the council Wednesday, Bowser said the newly proposed changes would include $530 million in new taxes and fees but still leaves schools with insufficient funding for security, food, and technology.

"It is kind of a budget that gets passed in an election year. Next year, businesses and residents will have to pay more," Bowser said. "I also think they cut a capital project that has been long promised, a new indoor facility at RFK, which would be a DPR facility and serve DC public schools students that are currently going all around the suburbs for indoor sports. That is a significantly problematic cut."

A second vote is expected on June 12.