City Council Candidates Agree Tax Hike Needed
This article has been updated to include the reason Brad Ellis did not participate in the candidate forum. He was out-of-town.
A tax increase is needed in the City of Fredericksburg agreed three City Council candidates who participated in Wednesday evening’s candidate forum, hosted by the Fredericksburg Democratic Committee.
The question of taxes came from an audience member, who referred to City Council’s decision this week to advertise a six-cent increase in the real estate tax rate for FY2015, along with increases in trash, water and sewer fees.
“The city is in a tight spot with some of its obligations and it needs to raise taxes if we want to have the same services,” said Ward 3 candidate Richard K. Friesner.
Tim P. Duffy, also running in Ward 3, agreed. “We are facing a lot of infrastructure needs and we need a tax increase if we want to preserve the quality of life in the city,” he said.
“My guess is City Council will end up approving a two or three cent increase this year, and we’ll increase it a little more again next year,” said Ward 2 candidate William C. “Billy” Withers. He said the increase was “reasonable,” given the quality of life in Fredericksburg.
Candidate Charlie L. “Chuck” Frye, Jr., is running in Ward 4 against incumbent Bea Paolucci. Paolucci was absent from the event due to illness. She was recently hospitalized with pneumonia, organizers said.
Frye gave an opening statement, but chose not to answer any questions, “in the spirit of fairness.”
Billy Withers is running unopposed in Ward 2. He used his opening statement to review accomplishments from his 2002 – 2008 tenure on Fredericksburg City Council. Withers called himself “a moderate thinker” and “a fiscal conservative.”
“Fiscal conservative to me means you don’t waste money, but you spend money when it’s needed,” Withers said He gave the example of building the new high school. “When you need to do things, you need to spend money.”
Chuck Frye Jr. promised if elected to return 51 percent of his city council salary back to the city. “The 51 percent rule is my rule,” the Ward 4 candidate said. “I believe in my community so much that when I become councilman, I’m going to take 51 percent of the city council salary and invest in back into my communities — not only Ward 4, but the whole city.”
He said his motivation for running is to give people a voice. “I’m not affiliated with any special interest groups, so any judgements I’m going to make when I’m elected to City Council won’t be effected by which one of my buddies will be effected,” he said.
Richard Friesner, Ward 3 candidate, said his platform focus is economic development and tourism. He called these the “economic engine” of Fredericksburg. “It needs to be as easy as possible to start a small business in the city or to relocate a business to the area,” Friesner said “A strong economic foundation will give us great schools and will help to support strong neighborhoods.”
“My view of Fredericksburg is that it is poised for greatness,” said Ward 3 candidate Tim Duffy. “We need to create a business friendly environment that will fill our shops and restaurants. At the same time, we need to address the needs of our older neighborhoods with regard to safety and infrastructure.”
Ward 1 incumbent Brad Ellis, who is running unopposed, did not attend the candidate forum. “He declined our invitation because he was out-of-town,” said Jason Graham, chairman of the Fredericksburg Democratic Committee.
For more on the May 6 Fredericksburg General Election, see: Fredericksburg Election 2014
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