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Back to Mayor’s main pagePress release on Bill 13-161Bill 13-161

Letter to Council Chairman Linda Cropp from
Mayor Tony Williams on Bill 13-161
March 15, 1999




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March 15, 1999

The Honorable Linda M. Cropp
Council of the District of Columbia
One Judiciary Square
441 Fourth Street, N.W.
Suite 710
Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Chairwoman Cropp:

On behalf of the citizens of the District of Columbia, I am transmitting to the Council of the District of Columbia, the Service Improvement Act of 1999. This legislation will dramatically improve the way the District delivers services to its citizens.

While the endeavors of the Council and the Executive over the last three years to repair the District's financial infrastructure has certainly proved successful, there remains a crisis in terms of service delivery. Indeed, the District must improve services in order to stop the reduction of our population base and instead, attract new residents to our Nation's Capital. A stable and growing population is critical for the District to maintain the financial solvency that the District has worked hard to achieve these past years. In addition to protecting the population base, improvements to service delivery is one of the goals of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995 ("Act"). The legislation I am proposing will improve service delivery in the District and protect the investments made by all of those individuals involved in the District's financial recovery.

The proposed legislation provides for improvement to services in several areas. In the area of government reform, I ask that the Council provide the Mayor with an expedited process to procure critical services and goods and a process to reorganize the certain executive agencies. In the area of personnel, I propose several provisions to increase the accountability and efficiency of the District workforce. The proposed legislation also focuses service improvement for the District's children and youth in terms of better resources for education and employment. The legislation would also create a commission to recommend improvements to the delivery of health care services in the District. Finally, the legislation provides a number of initiatives to improve services in the area of economic development. Greater detail is provided below in each of the areas covered by the proposed legislation.


In the past, procurement problems have hampered the executive agencies, thereby resulting in poor service delivery to District residents. I am proposing an expedited process in order to improve service delivery to District residents. My proposal would exempt all contracts from the review provisions of the Home Rule Act to allow the Mayor to expedite procurements. This exemption would expire after two years.

The delivery of services by the District has also been hampered by poor organization. My administration is now moving to implement the management reforms that have been studied over the last few years. In order to facilitate the reform of our service delivery, I have proposed that the Mayor be given expedited authority to reform the District government for a temporary period of two years. My proposal would continue to keep the council informed of all proposed changes.


One of the significant reasons for our past failures in service delivery has been the inability to hold managers and supervisors accountable for their performance. It is elemental that officials who are responsible for performance in a given area be held accountable for that performance, just as elected officials are. My proposal would hold Management Supervisory officials accountable by making them serve at the pleasure of their appointing official. In addition, I propose establishing incentives for early retirement in order to allow us to fairly and equitably reform the District's workforce.


One of the factors that helped to create the District's past financial crisis and one that will contribute to further uncertainty with respect to the District's financial condition has been the District's high unemployment rate. A high unemployment rate has led to a less productive public and a public that has become highly depended on government services. Many District residents are unable to find employment or have great difficulty finding suitable employment. I believe the District has failed in the past in providing the necessary services to prepare District residents to complete in the marketplace of employment. For example, our educational systems are not providing the tools necessary for District residents to be successful in work.

Instead of continuing the status quo and jeopardizing the progress the District has made with its finances, I propose that it is time for the District to invest in its people and improve educational, occupational, recreational and developmental services for our residents To that end, I propose that the Council immediately consider and enact the following measures no increase the quality of life for our residents:

  • Establish the District of Columbia Technology Center to deliver comprehensive educational and employment services to District residents. The Center should be located in an area with greater proximity to those residents in most need of those services and who have greatly ignored by the District in terms of overall service delivery.
  • Establish Child and Youth Partnership Program to provide educational, developmental, training, and recreational resources to District children and youth.


While the District has made minor changes to its provision of health care services to District residents, there has never been a comprehensive examination of the District's entire health care delivery system. Such an examination would enable the District to make the system more efficient and thus able to provide more services to District residents in need. Additionally, the analysis would provide the District with the tools necessary to modify the health care system in order for health care services to be directed to those citizens who need them.

Without the comprehensive examination that I am proposing, the District's health care system will continue to have financial problems and could jeopardize the delivery of health care services to some of our most needy citizens. Therefore, I ask the Council to enact my propose to establish a Health Care Commission to develop recommendations for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the District's health care system and ensuring that those citizens in need receive adequate health care services.


We are all aware of the acute need for economic development in our city. The National Capital Revitalization Corporation was established last year to assist in economic development for the District. The Corporation has the potential to be an important tool in driving development projects in our city. However, comparison with other cities programs indicates that several changes need to be made to bring the Corporation in line with the best practices of other jurisdictions. I have proposed a few amendments that would make the following changes:

  • The NCRC originally contained a requirement that the Corporation seek and obtain the approval of the Council prior to designating dedicated taxes and fees as "available revenues." I have proposed an amendment that would eliminate that requirement.
  • I propose to provide the Corporation with full autonomy over its internal personnel policies and procedures, which currently require Council approval.
  • The NCRC originally required the CEO and the Board to appoint a CFO, a general counsel and an inspector general. This requirement denies the CEO and the Board the exercise of their discretion to hire senior officers and employees as may be necessary. I have proposes eliminating this requirement.
  • The NCRC originally provided that the failure of the Council to act on a proposed plan within 45 days caused the plan to be disapproved. I have proposed a change in the provision so that the default rule would be to approve the plan.
  • I have proposed to change the time for providing written criteria for selecting types of assistance that projects may receive from the Corporation from 90 days to 180 days from the Board's initial meeting.
  • I have proposed to eliminate the original requirement that the Council must approve any subsidiary established by the Corporation.

Other minor, technical corrections are also included in the legislation.


A great number of businesses have left the District during the last decade and a half. It is well known that one of the major motivating factors has been, and continues to be, the District's non-business-friendly tax structure. Indeed, certain aspects of District business taxes places the District's small, local and disadvantaged businesses at a great economic disadvantage as compared with similar businesses in surrounding jurisdictions. Consequently, District businesses are unable to be competitive or are forced to leave the District to remain in business.

The District and its residents have suffered greatly as a result of the severe business flight over past years. The resulting decrease in economic activity has led to a lower revenue base and increased unemployment. Without a strong and reliable revenue base, the District will be unable to make needed improvements to the delivery of services. In order to stop further deterioration of the District's revenue base and resulting service delivery, I am proposing the Small Business Tax Improvement Act Service as part of my Service Improvement Act of l999. The tax proposals will address the financial emergency that continues unabated as a result of the outdated and, in some respects, punitive tax structure. I ask that the Council enact the following proposals aimed at retaining existing local, small and disadvantaged businesses in addition to attracting new ones;

  • Limit the threshold of the District Franchise Tax to provide relief to small businesses
  • Exempt from the Personal Property Tax the first $50,000 in value of personal property
  • Exempt small businesses from the Arena Tax
  • Amend the Personal Property Tax to account for rapidly depreciating computer and electronic equipment
  • Repeal of the Professional License Fee
  • Establish a Ward 7 and Ward 8 Commercial Development Taxing Zone ("Zone") and reduce the rate of the Real Property Tax for commercial property located in the Zone
  • Repeal the Sales and Use Tax on internet access
  • Restructure the operation of Net Operating Losses ("NOLs") to link NOL to local losses and to prevent the carry back of NOLs

Again, the Citizens and I ask for the Council's support on this very important legislation on an expedited basis. I look forward to working with you and the Council on this and other matters.


Anthony A. Williams

cc: Conncilmembers

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