Though DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has unveiled a balanced budget that would invest in core services like housing, healthcare and education without raising taxes, the DC Council is considering proposals to raise taxes on individuals and businesses anyway to cover new spending projects.

The DC Council’s Budget Oversight Committee held a hearing June 17 to consider the mayor’s proposed FY21 budget, and representatives from the DC business community warned councilmembers against raising taxes during lean financial times created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If not carefully managed, the District could emerge from the COVID-19 crisis significantly weakened, which will force us to defer future investments in progressive agenda items,” said Anthony Williams, CEO and executive director of Federal City Council (FC2) and a former mayor of DC. “Simply put, without a robust economy, it will be impossible to fund our progressive agenda.”

In his testimony, Williams pointed out that the District has a proposed per capita spending in excess of $19,600 per resident, meaning the city is already investing more in its residents than any other large jurisdiction in the nation. At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic has seen DC small businesses burning through cash reserves, and key sectors of the city’s economy like retail, food services and hospitality are barely hanging on, he said.

ASAE and many other DC-based organizations are filing comments before the deadline of 5 p.m. tomorrow, June 26. The Recover Strong Alliance, a coalition of local businesses, workers and community organizations, has a portal for individuals and businesses to advocate that the Council approve a balanced and responsible budget that allows for sustainable economic growth.