March 7, 2019

Dear Neighbor,

Yesterday, the Council of the District of Columbia had an opportunity to provide needed relief to middle class families but failed to do so. Due to lack of support at the Council, the “Homestead Exemption Increase Act of 2019” was returned to the Committee on Finance & Revenue.
 
As I traverse Ward 4, I hear concerns from longtime homeowners and new about the rising cost of real property taxes, especially in light of many homeowners having just received their new property tax assessment for 2019.  In July of 2018, I introduced the “Homestead Exemption Increase Act of 2019” with the aim that it would lessen the burden for ALL District homeowners by increasing the current deduction from $74,850 to $125,000. This increase in deduction would provide for $426 in every homeowner’s pocket this year- that’s real savings, right away, and middle-class residents shared that it would make a difference to them.  
 
According to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) in 2019, the District will collect over $445 million in residential property taxes from homeowners. In 2020, the OCFO predicts the District will collect over $480 million, an increase of $35 million in revenue. That $35 million would almost cover the entire fiscal impact of the “Homestead Exemption Increase Act of 2019”. 
 
Opponents of the bill argue that this would benefit wealthy homeowners. The tax assessment reduction would benefit thousands of everyday middle-class District residents. Additionally, there is a misguided belief that residents who live in homes valued at $ 500,000 or more are wealthy and that they are not in need of financial support to help them maintain the condition of the homes, educate their children, and take care of aging or parents or family.  
 
DC homes values have risen much faster relative to growth in average household income according to an April 2017 report from the District of Columbia CFO based on research conducted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Report indicates that single-family housing values in DC have risen much more over 25 years than in the metro area or the US. In the 14 years from 2002 to 2016, the District’s home price growth was 147% compared to 55% in the metro area and 36% in the US.  The average household income from 2002 to 2016 grew 63%.
 
The accumulation of annual expenses such as property taxes, utilities, and the maintenance on older housing stock creates increasing financial hardship for homeowners and put them at risk.  The loss of home has a multigenerational impact on the wealth of families.  
 
I introduced this bill to support thousands of middle-class homeowners. For our hardworking teachers, firefighters, and police officers who are committed to living in the city they serve. For our seniors who built this city, endured the hard times, and desire to age in place in the neighborhoods where they have raised their families, worked and enjoyed throughout their lives but are faced with a property tax bill that make their own homes cost-prohibitive. For our young families that moved to the District, purchased their first home with their life savings and struggle paying for childcare, utilities, mortgage, student loans, and taxes. This bill was introduced for all District homeowner across all eight wards.
 
While I am disappointed with yesterday’s outcome, I remain committed to ensuring that the voices of middle-class families in the District who want to remain here are heard.
 
 
 Sincerely,

Brandon T. Todd
Councilmember, Ward 4
#Ward4Proud

Legislative Update

Committee of the Whole:
On Tuesday, March 5th, the Council met in room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building for their regularly scheduled Legislative Meeting and additional Committee of the Whole.  

Council Approved Confirmations:
At the Legislative Meeting, the Council unanimously passed “Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee Confirmation Resolution of 2019” and “Chief Technology Officer Lindsey Parker Confirmation Resolution of 2019”

Committee on Government Operations:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

  • Committee on Government Operations Public Roundtable, 11 am, Room 123
    • Director o f Office of Nightlife and Culture Shawn Townsend Confirmation 

Monday, March 18, 2019

  • Committee on Government Operations Public Roundtable, 5 pm, Room 123
    • Director of the Office of Veterans Affairs Elliott Tommingo Confirmation

Friday, March 22, 2019

  • Committee of the Whole, Room 500 10:00AM-End
    • Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2020 Proposed Budget

DC Council Budget Hearings
In March, the Council will embark on one of its most critical functions: agency budget hearings. Directors of government agencies come before the relevant DC Council Committee to report on their actions and programs and justify their use of taxpayer dollars in Fiscal Year 2019. Additionally, they will present their vision for Fiscal Year 2020 and why they are requesting a specific amount of funding. Stakeholders and constituents are also afforded the opportunity to testify on their experience, the quality of service, and areas for improvement for each agency. The annual budget process is a crucial accountability mechanism, ensuring that the branches of government check one another and that citizens have the opportunity to make their voices heard.

The Mayor will come to present her budget Friday, March 22, 2019. Agency budget hearings will be scheduled beginning the following week.

DC Council Budget Hearings begin March 22, 2019. See the full calendar of  budget hearings at: dccouncil.us/full-performance-oversight-and-budget-schedules-now-available/
See the full Council calendar at: dccouncil.us/events

For more information regarding hearings or legislation, please contact my Legislative Director, Keiko Yoshino, atkyoshino@dccouncil.us or (202) 724-8052.

Week In Review

Ward 4 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners
and Civic Leaders Summit

Councilmember Todd hosted his 5th annual Ward 4 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and Civic Leaders Summit to share his goals for the coming year, learn about community leaders priorities, and to bring together community leaders with District agency leadership from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works, Office of Planning, Department of Health, and the Metropolitan Police Department.  The annual Summit helps forge relationships with Ward 4 community leaders and District agency leadership who report on annual agency strategic plans, new programs, and provide updates on Ward 4 projects and initiatives. Community leaders also have an opportunity to ask questions and share recommendations. 

Week In Review

Read Across America Day

To celebrate Read Across America and Dr. Suess’ birthday, Councilmember Todd visited Barnard Elementary School, Shepherd Elementary School, and Breakthrough Montessori as part of the National Read Across America Day, a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually on March 2—Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers participated by bringing together kids, teens, and books. 

Washington Area Bicycle Association Meeting

Tuesday, Councilmember Todd met with Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) members to learn about their interests, share his priorities, and updates on Met Branch Trail and the East Rock Creek Visibility Study I initiatives that will enhance the District’s cycling experience. These are two initiatives that Councilmember Todd has actively spearheaded during his tenure and include advancing the next phase of the Met Branch Trail from Brookland to Ft. Totten. He also secured funding for the East Rock Visibility Study that will include an evaluation of  bicycle infrastructure within the study area, bicycle and pedestrian crash sites, and bicycle routes. For more information visit the project website or contact the DDOT Project Manager, Cynthia Lin, at cynthia.lin@dc.gov or (202) 671-2381.

Councilmember Todd & Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Host Community Meeting on 14th Street Bus Barn Redevelopment: Monday, March 11th, 6:30 PM 

Councilmember Todd invites you to mark your calendar for an upcoming community meeting with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to discuss their reconstruction plans for the Northern Bus Garage, commonly known as the “14th Street Bus Barn.” Located on 14th Street, NW and bounded by Decatur St, Iowa Ave, Arkansas Ave, and Buchanan St, the facility serves as a parking and maintenance facility for WMATAs buses that service Ward 4 and the surrounding area. The facility dates back to the early 1900’s and is now in poor and deteriorating condition. 

The meeting will take place on Monday, March 11th at 6:30 PM at the garage’s community room (4615 14th Street, NW). 

Learn more about the project at: brandontoddward4.com/blog/wmata-northern-bus-garage-reconstruction 

Important Announcements

Community Meeting For Potential Futsal Court in Takoma:
Wednesday, March 6, 6:30, Takoma Community Center

DCRA’s New On-Demand Customer Relationship Management

The District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ (DCRA) pilot On-Demand Customer Relationship Management (CRM) streamlines the way we respond to customer inquiries and ensure we do it in a timely manner. Regardless of how you contact DCRA (web, social media, phone, and email), our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) provides us with access to a single point of contact to provide you with assistance with permitting, licensing, inspections, investigations, and enforcement. The system is designed to submit, assign, track, prioritize, and resolve your inquiries and provide our staff with key information to assist you.

Learn more and access the system at: dcra.dc.gov/crm

RiverSmart DC Communities 2019
Applications Due March 15th 

The District Dept. of Energy and the Environment, in collaboration with the Anacostia Watershed Society, is pleased to announce the release of the 2019 RiverSmart Communities Grant Program

Eligible applicants will include 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations and houses of worship. Qualifying projects include the installation of practices that will reduce pollution to local waterways, reduce their stormwater fees, and educate the public about water pollution. While prior RiverSmart Communities grant programs focused primarily on effective stormwater treatment, this year’s program heavily emphasizes the community engagement and outreach activities that will accompany the installation of stormwater projects. The application deadline is Marth 15, 2019 at 5pm.

Get more information and review this year’s Request for Applications (RFA) at doee.dc.gov/service/riversmart-communities or by contacting Josh Clak at jclark@anacostiaws.org

Nominations For 2020 DC Teacher of the Year
Due March 15th

The Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) is searching for the 2020 DC Teacher of the Year. We are seeking nominations for outstanding teachers who:

  • Inspire and accelerate growth for all students
  • Build strong partnerships with families and communities
  • Champion the teaching profession

Find the 2020 DC TOY Nomination Form HERE. Nomination window is from Feb. 1-March 15, 2019. Questions? Read more at: hosse.dc.gov/service/district-columbia-teacher-year or contact Annette.Thacker@dc.gov.

Let’s Play Ball! Capitol City Little League Registration Is Open

With the start of baseball season right around the corner, there are many great opportunities for young people to learn and enjoy America’s pastime. In Ward 4, we have a great organization providing baseball and softball opportunities for kids ages 4-12. Capitol City Little League welcomes kids of all skills and abilities to come out and play. Playing baseball is a great way for kids to be part of a team, have fun, get exercise and learn life lessons. Registration for the spring season is open now. For more information and to register, visit www.capcityll.orgor nationals.com/findyourleague.

Ward 4 Office Hours in Lamond Riggs on March 7 will be rescheduled to March 16
 at Riggs LaSalle Recreation Center, 501 Riggs Road NW

Councilmember Todd’s Office Hours for today, March 7 will be rescheduled for Saturday, March 16 from 11 am to 12:30 pm.  Office Hours provide an opportunity for you to speak with Councilmember Todd for a one-on-one meeting for 15 minutes. For more information contact LaRoya Huff at lhuff@dccouncil.us or 202-724-6663. 

Ward 4 Council Staff

Brandon T. Todd
Councilmember
(202) 724-8052
btodd@dccouncil.us

Sherryl H. Newman
Chief of Staff 
(o) (202) 724-8052
(c) (202) 215-5455
snewman@dccouncil.us

Jackson Carnes
Director of Constituent Services
(o)(202) 741-5293
(c)(202) 316-9078
jcarnes@dccouncil.us

Keiko Yoshino
Legislative Director
(o) (202) 724-7774
(c) (202) 717-2782
kyoshino@dccouncil.us

LaRoya Huff
Deputy Director of Constituent Services
(o) (202) 724-8106
(c) (202) 368-2518
Lhuff@dccouncil.us
Dolly Turner
Deputy Chief of Staff
(o) (202) 654-6406
(c) (202) 412-2024
dturner@dccouncil.us

Gary Johnson
Constituent Service Coordinator
(o)(202) 724-8029
(c) (202) 304-8123
gjohnson@dccouncil.us
Joshua Fleitman
Director of Communications
(o) (202) 724-8191
(c) 202-294-2506
jfleitman@dccouncil.us 

Manny Geraldo
Senior Legislative Counsel
(o) (202) 724-8035
mgeraldo@dccouncil.us