The Council of the District of Columbia just held a first vote on the city’s annual spending plan, which totals $14.4 billion. So, what’s in it for Ward 6 residents, businesses, students, seniors, parents, bikers, walkers, and more? Let’s break it down.
Major Investments in Homeless Services and Affordable Housing: The Council added $15.6 million on top of the proposed increase under the Mayor’s budget to provide additional housing supports to survivors of domestic violence, residents experiencing homelessness, and extremely low-income families. Overall, the District is dedicating $237 million toward homeless and housing instability services, a 10 percent increase in our work to help our homeless neighbors. The budget commits $100 million toward the creation of affordable housing and continues the innovative program led by Councilmember Allen last year to provide attorneys to families and renters facing eviction.
Dedicated Funding for WMATA: The District made a historic commitment along with Maryland and Virginia to provide a dedicated funding stream for our Metrorail and Metrobus systems, setting aside $178 million annually for operations and infrastructure.
Supporting Small Businesses in DC: Ward 6 is enriched by hundreds of small businesses who add to our communities, hire locally, and support local causes. The 2019 budget creates a new $5,000 tax credit small businesses can claim on their property taxes or rent annually to help ensure local and small businesses can always be part of our neighborhoods.
Investing in the future of Eastern Market: Eastern Market is the longest continually operating public market in the city and the heart of Capitol Hill. As our community grows and changes, this budget includes funding to ensure Eastern Market is ready for the future. The budget funds a strategic plan for the market, as well as directing the Department of General Services to repair longstanding building issues, and funds a study of security bollards for the Eastern Market streetscape during weekend closures. The budget includes $2.6 million toward the reimagining of Eastern Market Metro Plaza - more on that below.
- Per-Pupil Funding: The Council’s budget increases the funding dedicated to serving at-risk students by more than $2 million while increasing by 3.9 percent the growth in the per-pupil funding. The budget also increases the per-pupil facilities allotment for public charter schools by 2.2 percent.
- Increases in Ward 6 school modernizations: $67 million in additional funding added to modernizations and building improvements at Maury Elementary, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, School-Within-School @ Goding, JO Wilson, and Brent Elementary. Jefferson and Eliot-Hine maintain full-funding secured in previous budgets - these projects total $313 million!
- Miner and Tyler Elementary Schools are getting new playgrounds thanks to $3 million in funding!
- Capitol Hill Cluster School Bus: The budget continues the funding of the Capitol Hill Cluster School Bus, now operating under the District Department of Transportation.
- Child Care Tax Credit: For parents with a child 0-3 in child care, a tax credit this year for $1,000 to help off-set the high cost of child care.
- Investigating School Residency Fraud: Councilmember Allen ensured funding for a full-time attorney in the Office of the Attorney General focused on school residency fraud.
- Education Research Consortium: The budget sets aside $500,000 to incubate an independent entity in the DC Auditor’s office working with data and strategic thinking to improve DC Public Schools.
- Police, Firefighters, and EMT: Maintains annual funding levels for 3,837 sworn police officers and 2,153 fire and EMS professionals.
- Youth Rehabilitation Amendment Act Funded: Supports evidence-based public safety reforms for victims of crime and young adult perpetrators by fully funding the Youth Rehabilitation Amendment Act of 2018, introduced by Councilmember Allen last year.
- Fully funds the NEAR Act: Includes IT upgrades to track stop and frisk data and adds $2.2 million in grants supporting community-based organizations intervening with individuals at high-risk to commit or be victim to a violent crime.
- Maternal Mortality and Violence Fatality Committees: Funds the Maternal Mortality Review Committee and establishes and funds a Violence Fatality Review Committee to study all deaths ruled a homicide or suicide to provide data to inform policies.
- Relief for Community Events: Provides financial assistance to small charitable special events in the District to defray fees assessed by District agencies for homeland security preparedness.
- We’re getting a new fireboat! Recognizing that as DC remembers it is a city on two rivers, we will need to be prepared for public safety challenges on the water. Councilmember Allen funded the procurement of a new fire boat to replace the aging John H. Glenn, Jr for our fire department.
- Taking Care of Our Firetrucks and Ambulances: Advances design and construction planning funds for a new, modern fleet maintenance facility for the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department by adding $1 million to the project in FY19.
Parks and Environment
- Eastern Market Metro Park: Last year, Councilmember Allen secured funding to begin re-designing Eastern Market Metro Plaza – the area surrounding the metro’s entrance. Included in this year’s budget is $2.6 million to improve lighting, install a much-needed playground, create a seating area and shade, update pedestrian walkways, and the opportunity for interactive programming in partnership with the Southeast Branch Library. This brings the total investment in the space to $7.1 million.
- Garfield Park-Canal Park Connector: The budget also includes $1 million funding to build out the connector that will create pedestrian and bicycle transit options when traveling between Canal Park and Garfield Park along 3rd Street, SE.
- Southwest Library Playground: Councilmember Allen secured $500,000 in the budget for the playground at 3rd and I Streets, SW, beside the Southwest Neighborhood Library. The funding to complete the needed improvements will be available in October, with a goal of having the newly modernized library and playground open at the same time.
- Lansburgh Park: The budget includes an additional $400,000 in the to upgrade Lansburgh Park starting in October. Together with the $500,000 already in the budget, this funding will go toward improving the seating, lighting, water lines, and other needs in the park.
- Virginia Ave Park and Hill East Parks: Additional $100,000 set aside to complete planning for the Virginia Avenue park as well as pocket parks in Hill East.
- Kennedy Recreation Center Expansion Assessment: Councilmember Allen has pushed the Department of General Services to study feasibility of expanding Kennedy Recreation Center, recognizing its growing usage in the center of a fast growing community.
- Southwest Neighborhood Library Opening Day Collection: Councilmember Allen included money in the budget toward the opening day collection for the Southwest Library following its renovation, with a commitment to meet the full cost once we know the total. The library is scheduled to re-open in early 2020.
- Southeast Neighborhood Library: Funding remains in place and modernization for library located next to Eastern Market Metro Plaza is set to begin next year.
Getting Around Town – In addition to the historic dedicated funding to WMATA, the budget includes funding for the following transit priorities:
- DC Streetcar: $44 million additional funds toward the DC Streetcar expansion east to the Benning Road Metro. Budget also includes funding to upgrade the H Street Bridge as part of western expansion and dedicated parking enforcement along streetcar route.
- Streetscapes Projects: The budget includes or maintains funding to support streetscape redesigns for Pennsylvania Ave SE, Maryland Ave NE, and Florida Avenue NE.
- Capital Bikeshare: Continues funding to expand Capital Bikeshare program and includes funding and policy recommendations for DDOT to speed up creation of more bicycle infrastructure.
- Sidewalk repairs: The budget includes $10 million for repairs of sidewalks citywide, and ramps up that funding in the next four years with a commitment to pedestrians and accessibility. Budget also includes $5 million for Ward 6 local street repairs.
Making Government Work
- Fair Elections Act: Fully funds Councilmember Allen’s Fair Elections Act, which creates a public-financing option for campaigns for local DC offices beginning in 2020.
- More Inspectors and Permit Processors at DCRA: Funds eight new full-time positions with DCRA to assist with housing permits and inspections
- Protecting Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence: Creates Address Confidentiality Program, which allows survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to hide their primary address in public records.
- DC Water bill relief: Even as DC Water hits major milestones in its massive infrastructure project to divert hundreds of thousands of gallons of waste water from entering our rivers, the Council recognized the burden higher water bills were having on homes and nonprofits, including local churches. The budget sets aside $12 million relief fund in DOEE to offset eligible nonprofits and fees and subsidize the bills of households earning $150,000 or less.