Alexandria City Government

Alexandria VA

Alexandria is an independent city (Virginia cities have no county affiliation), which derives its governing authority from a charter granted by the Virginia General
Assembly. Changes in the structure and powers of the City government are made by amending the Charter. This requires action by the General Assembly, usually upon the request of the City Council, following public hearings. The present City Charter was granted in 1950; it was amended extensively in 1968, 1971, 1976, 1982, and 1983.  By referendum in 1921, an overwhelming majority of the voters approved the adoption of the council-manager form of city government, which went into effect in September 1922. This form of government centralizes legislative authority and responsibility in the elected City Council.

Administrative authority and responsibility are held by the City Manager, who is appointed by the City Council. The City Council is composed of a Mayor and six Council members who are elected at-large for three-year terms. Any in-term vacancy is filled by a special election unless the vacancy occurs within six months of the end of the term, at which time a judicial appointment is made. The Mayor, who is chosen on a separate ballot, presides over meetings of the Council and serves as the ceremonial head of government. The Mayor does not have the power to veto Council action. Council members traditionally choose the person receiving the most votes in the election to serve as Vice Mayor. In the absence or disability of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor performs the mayoral duties. The Mayor receives a salary of $30,500, and other Council members receive a salary of $27,500 per year.

Council determines the needs to be addressed and the degree of service to be
provided by the administrative branch of the City government. Under Alexandria’s Charter, the Council has power to:

  • Determine policy in the fields of planning, traffic, law and order, public
    works, finance, social services, and recreation;
  • Appoint and remove the City Manager;
  • Adopt the budget, levy taxes, collect revenues, and make appropriations;
  • Appoint and remove the City Attorney;
  • Authorize the issuance of bonds by a bond ordinance;
  • Appoint and remove the City Clerk;
  • Establish administrative departments, offices, and agencies;
  • Appoint members of the Planning Commission, and other City
    authorities, boards, commissions, and committees;
  • Inquire into the conduct of any office, department, or agency of the City
    and make investigations into municipal affairs;
  • Provide for an independent audit; and
  • Provide for the number, titles, qualifications, powers, duties, and compensation of all officers and employees of the City.

Council meetings are shown live on cable channel 70 and repeated at a later time. The council meetings can also be viewed via computer on streaming video. Past sessions of Council meetings can be watched via computer or on videos available from the Office of Citizen Assistance.

From time to time the city issues press releases which Condo Alexandria posts here.

How your ratios affect your home buying power.

Julie Nesbitt
Julie Nesbitt

Two ratios are calculated by mortgage lenders to determine a buyer’s maximum loan amount:1) the front ratio and, 2) the back ratio.

Front Ratio: The total mortgage payment including principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) as well as any condominium or homeowner association fees divided by your total GROSS income. Traditionally, this ratio must be below 30% Example: With a gross income of $5000 per month, a total mortgage payment (PITI) of $1350, the front ratio would be 27%.

Back Ratio: The total mortgage payment PLUS any car payments, credit card and any other loan payments including student loans divided by your total GROSS income. Traditionally this must be below 40%. Example: With a gross income of $5000 per month, a total mortgage payment of $1350, a car payment of $325, 1 credit card payment of $60 and 1 student loan payment of $150 for a total of $1885 with a back ratio of 38%.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Julie at (703)765-0300.

If you need help calculating your ratios, please contact Julie Nesbitt at 703 765 0300.

Home buying in Northern Virginia?

Nora Yelland
Nora has more than a dozen years of experience selling real estate.

Buуіng a home іѕ an important task that is a realization of a dream for many people. As a home buyer will need to walk through a process and overcome hurdles іn оrdеr tо ensure thаt your goals are achieved. At tіmеѕ, hоmе buуіng саn еvеn bе ѕtrеѕѕful. However, іf buy with a Nesbitt Realty agent, we can take the stress out of the process. Our agents know where and how to find the best properties for your needs. Our agents are experienced with deep local connections. And we can save you thousands on your purchase.

[Learn more about buying with Nesbitt Realty]

first-time buyer
Nesbitt Realty helps first-time home-buyers realize their home-buying dreams.

5 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes

A Single family house at 5428 Grist Mill Woods Way Alexandria VA 22309
Grist Mill Woods is in Alexandria 22309

1. Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.

2. Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.

3. Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.

4. Start saving.Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.

5. Get your credit in order.Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.

6. Determine your mortgage qualifications.How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.

Condos at 2001 15th St N #615 Arlington VA 22201
Odyssey is in Arlington 22201

7. Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.

8. Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.

9. Calculate the costs of home ownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.

10. Contact a REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Julie at (703)765-0300.

Homeowners are special people

Of course as a homeowner you’ll be responsible for maintenance and repairs on the house. As a condo owner, many of these responsibilities are handled by the condo association. Either way, you’re the type of person who has taken charge of his or her life. You can paint your wall any color you want. You don’t need your landlord’s permission to get a pet.

dog
Fred

As a homeowner you’re more likely to be a part of the neighborhood watch and the garden club. According to some studies, home owners are more likely to vote, and more likely to participate in local government activities. As a condominium owner you have become one of America’s landed gentry. According to the Rossi and Weber National Survey of Families, home owners possess significantly higher levels of self-confidence than renters.

Tax advantages are one of the biggest financial benefits of home ownership. The typical home owner that pays a $1,000 house payment will realize tax savings of about $120 each month. (As a general rule, most homeowners can deduct most or all of their interest payments on their home loan, property taxes and loan points, but check with your tax advisor about your situation.) What this means is that next year your rent won’t go up, but your liability will go down. Generally if you can afford the cash flow, it’s cheaper to buy than to rent. Because you’re a homeowner, you know what this means.

This increase confidence and wealth will have an impact on your family life as well. According to Boehm & Schlottmann, University of Tennessee, “Children of home owners are 59% more likely to become homeowners. Their children are also 25% more likely to graduate from high school and 116% more likely to graduate from college.”

As an owner, you’ll stop paying rent and you’ll start building ownership equity. A survey of consumer finance by the Federal Reserve Board found that the median net worth of most modest-income owners is almost $60,000 compared to less than $10,000 for renters in the same income group.

In many cases, your home will provide you with more privacy than rental living. For some, this means a quieter living environment, for others it’s the ability to have a grow garden, have a backyard barbecue or a build a garage. You’ll have the freedom to make whatever changes or improvements you like. Now that you control your living environment, you can make adjustments as your family changes or just as your personal taste dictates.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Julie at (703)765-0300.

Taxes Are Tricky for Second-Home Buyers

Purchasers of second homes should be aware that, according to the IRS, taxpayers who are married and filing jointly can’t deduct interest on more than a combined total of $1 million of “home acquisition debt” for a primary and a secondary residence.

Torpedo Factory entrance
Entrance to the Torpedo Factory condos on a snowy day

Taxpayers also may deduct up to a combined total of $100,000 of home-equity debt on their first and second homes.

After refinancing, a home owner can only deduct interest on the original amount of the loan at the time they refinanced, plus $100,000.

Buyers and refinancers also can deduct loan fees – “points” – if the money was used to buy or improve their home. They can’t deduct them if they refinanced to lower the interest rate.

Source: Inman News, Tom Kelly (04/07/2010)

  • REDUCED: 7202 Churchill Rd, McLean

    Open House, Sunday, 1-4 BIG PRICE DROP! 7202 CHURCHILL ROAD McLean, VA 22101 6 Bedrooms 5.5 Bathrooms 6,752 SF $1,695,000

    Read More

  • [FWD: The Empire Strikes Back Pictures]

    We played a game at the office this Sunday. Lots of fun. Sincerely, Will Nesbitt Principal Broker   Nesbitt RealtyAlexandria VA licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Maryland 703 765 0300 (main) 571 237 7902 (direct)888 783 6391 (fax) ——– Original Message ——– Subject: The Empire Strikes Back Pictures From: [email protected]

    Read More

  • Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services

    Fairfax County
    Established in 1974 with a mission to reduce homelessness, increase community support and promote self sufficiency, the Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services is operated by a multi-denominational board of directors and staff managing over 70 housing units. Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services is located in the Mount Zephyr Business Center at 8305 Richmond…

    Read More

  • Mistake 4: Acting too picky.

    We help buyers and sellers.
    While you should narrow down what you want and you list features most important to you, don’t be so inflexible that you make it impossible to find a home. If you’re too picky, you may have to continue renting when you could own a home. Be willing to compromise on some of the less important…

    Read More

More Taxes for Sellers to Pay

flag
Nesbitt Realty is licensed in Virginia.
Virginia House Bill 2313 which recently was approved by the Virginia General Assembly. Among other provisions, each designed to facilitate statewide transportation funding, the Virginia Grantor’s tax charged to all Sellers of real property will increase from $1 per thousand (in the greater of the sales price or assessed value) to $3.50 per thousand. Consider this a pyrrhic victory, as the original proposal called for an increase to $5 per thousand. Unlike a number of years, this Bill will not be struck down as unconstitutional. This change will take effect July 1, 2013, and should be factored into your seller’s net sheets for all transactions sent to record on or after that date.

  • Alexandria City Government

    seal of the City of Alexandria
    Alexandria is an independent city (Virginia cities have no county affiliation), which derives its governing authority from a charter granted by the Virginia General Assembly. Changes in the structure and powers of the City government are made by amending the Charter. This requires action by the General Assembly, usually upon the request of the City…

    Read More

  • Fairfax County Courthouse, in 1972

  • Alexandria City Hall- Historic Old Town

    Old Town Alexandria
    Alexandria City Hall was built on a site designated for the market and city hall when Alexandria was founded in 1749. The original City Hall burned in 1871 the current structure was erected in 1874. This City Hall wraps around a central courtyard known as Market Square. When first constructed Alexandria City Hall also housed…

    Read More

  • Department of Agriculture at Washington DC, in 1950

  • TISCOM / Coast Guard base at Alexandria, Virginia

    US Coast Guard seal
    The Coast Guard Telecommunication and Information Systems Command or TISCOM sets office just near Hayfield in Fairfax County Alexandria Virginia. The Command is the Coast Guard’s lead developer of voice and data communications systems by developing modern digital communication networks and integrating computer technology in the Coast Guard’s daily routine. TISCOM provides telecommunications, electronics and…

    Read More

Mistake 3: Failing to consider additional expenses.

Even if you can afford the cost of a home, remember owning a house requires additional expenses a renter doesn’t have to pay. For example, homeowners have to pay for insurance against disasters, for home repairs and improvements and for property taxes. In addition, condominium owners are required to pay maintenance fees as part of the homeowner’s association. Be sure to make yourself away of the additional expenses of owning a home so you don’t find yourself in trouble after purchasing.

NEXT Mistake 4: Being too picky.

A Financial Plan for Your Home

You probably already have a financial plan for yourself in place. Most likely you sat down with an advisor at some point to set up a budget and diversify your investments. Or maybe you did it yourself online or at the dining room table. Either way, smart move.

But what about your home specifically, probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make in your life? Did you really take everything into account: repairs and upgrades, the mortgage, insurance, and taxes? Probably not.

Your house requires a financial plan of its own. Spend a weekend creating one. Once you have a handle on your home’s expenses you can devise a long-term strategy that’ll let you live there for years with maximum enjoyment and minimum anxiety. These are the four central elements you need to address.

The mortgage: Paying it—and then some

Yes, you already shell out a lot for your mortgage, but can you pay more? Even a little extra each month can add up. Let’s say you have $200,000 outstanding principal and a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5%. Your monthly payment is $1,319.91. But if you can manage to pay another $100 a month, you’ll save $14,887 in interest. Run the numbers for yourself.

Alan D. Kahn, a financial planner in Syosset, N.Y., likes the idea of early payoff because lowering debt leaves you free to spend money elsewhere later on. There’s an emotional benefit as well. It can feel awfully good to own your house outright as soon as possible. And don’t fret too much about losing the mortgage interest deduction come tax time. Toward the tail end of the life of a loan most of your payment is going to the principal, not the interest.

Nevertheless, the same extra $100 might also go into a retirement plan every month, or be put aside for the inevitable home repairs (more on those later). Michael Kay, a financial planner in Livingston, N.J., says while a debt-free life may be enormously important to your peace of mind, an extra $1,200 toward your child’s college fund every year may feel even better. It’s about what’s ultimately important to you, both emotionally and financially.

Insurance: Protecting your property

You’ll want homeowners insurance with full replacement coverage in case your house is burned to the ground. This sounds simple, but be careful on the calculation. Remember that you own a house as well as the land on which it sits. So even though you bought your home for $300,000, it may cost only $100,000 to rebuild it. Your policy limits should reflect this.

The differences are regional. Where land is at a premium, like much of Southern California, a higher percentage of the purchase cost is for the property rather than the structure. Where land is cheap, like much of North Dakota, most of the value of a new house is the house itself. Don’t be deceived by shifts in market values. You may have bought a $1.2 million townhouse in Florida during the boom that now may only sell for $600,000. But the replacement cost of the townhouse hasn’t changed much, so you can’t cut insurance costs that way.

Do, however, try to cut costs by asking your insurance agent about discounts. Making structural improvements, such as adding storm shutters, can lead to lower rates. Membership is certain groups, such as AARP or veterans’ organizations, entitles some policyholders to breaks on premiums as well.

Repairs and renovations: By choice or necessity

Throughout the life of your house, you’ll be making two kinds of changes. The first is the fun kind, like a marble floor for the living room. The second is the essential, behind-the-scenes change: a new water heater. You don’t have a choice about when you’ll do the latter, but you can prepare for it financially.

It’s a good idea to have a rainy-day fund. Start with the inspection report you received when you bought the house. Did the inspector indicate that you would need a new roof in five years? A new furnace in 10? Get estimates on what these repairs will cost and start saving. Consider ongoing non-emergency maintenance too. Do you live in New England? Price a snow blower and get bids from plow services. Resist the temptation to take care of everything with home equity loans, which defeat efforts to pay off the mortgage early.

As for the discretionary upgrades, act prudently. Matthew P. Havens, a financial planner in Hingham, Mass., has seen too many people rationalizing lavish upgrades as an investment when they really were lifestyle decisions. According to Remodeling magazine, an upscale major kitchen upgrade, for example, could cost nearly $112,000, but only about 63% of that will be recouped in the home’s resale value. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t upgrade. If you can afford to redo your bathrooms, go ahead. Just don’t confuse your necessary repairs (new oil furnace—about $4,000) with your discretionary upgrades (Viking range—$6,000 and up).

Taxes: (Almost) no way around them

Taxes are an essential part of your home’s financial plan. The bank that holds your mortgage may already handle your real estate taxes with an escrow account. If so the expense is built into your monthly mortgage payment. Check your statements or call the lender. Otherwise create a dedicated fund for property taxes, which can run into the thousands of dollars annually.

You may be able to reduce your tax burden by getting a reassessment. Do your homework first. Are comparable houses taxed less than yours? Ask the local assessor what formula is used to set tax rates. Kay, the New Jersey financial planner, researched and then challenged the assessed value of his own home and got a 15% rollback.

If you’re in a special group, you might get some help from state or local programs. Check around to see what’s available in your area. New York State, for example, has its Star Program for giving senior citizens some relief from school-related property taxes.

Richard J. Koreto is a freelance writer. He has been editor of several professional financial magazines and is the author of “Run It Like a Business,” a practice management book for financial planners. He and his wife own a pre-Civil War house in Rockland County, N.Y.