Kevin B. Chavous Discusses Legislative Priorities for Ward 7
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lamont Harrell
March 12, 2012
Kevin B. Chavous Discusses Legislative Priorities for Ward 7
Washington – Ward 7 City Council Candidate Kevin B. Chavous held a press conference Monday to discuss his legislative priorities as Ward 7 Councilmember.
Chavous plans to introduce legislation to freeze property taxes for seniors who qualify for the Homestead Deduction and to give parents the ability to transform low-performing schools through parental organizing.
Chavous intends to improve the responsiveness and performance of public services in Ward 7 by using the budget process to allocate more resources to the ward. He also plans to implement a 48-hour first response time policy for handling constituent service matters.
“These agenda items will address several major areas of need in Ward 7 and across the District. The bills are special to me because they involve areas in which I have expertise: affordable housing, our seniors and parent empowerment,” Chavous said Monday.
“I have promised to Ward 7 that I will be voice of the everyday person. By helping our seniors in their homes, empowering parents to transform failing schools and bringing city services to Ward 7, we will send a message to our residents that we are committed to their well-being and committed to a progressive vision that is inclusive of all residents,” he said.
Please read below for detailed summaries of the legislative plans and policies.
Senior Property Tax Freeze
- Chavous plans to author and sponsor legislation to freeze property taxes for seniors who qualify for the Homestead Deduction. Currently, the Homestead Deduction grants homeowners over the age of 65 a fifty-percent reduction in their property tax rate. Even so, property taxes still pressure seniors on fixed incomes because the Deduction continues to rise once applied. This measure will permanently cap the tax rate at the rate established at the time a senior successfully applies for the Deduction.
- Ward 7 has a large aging population comprised of many residents who have owned and resided in their home for a significant time. Despite the Homestead Deduction, many seniors face the threat of losing their home because of various economic burdens. When such loss occurs, seniors are placed in a vulnerable position and communities are fractured.
- This measure will assist Ward 7 residents in various ways. Primarily, it will help to protect seniors from being forced out of their homes by forces often beyond their control. The measure also will help to maintain and sustain well-developed communities by enabling the continued residence of long-term homeowners. Lastly, the measure would guarantee revenue for Ward 7. By keeping active taxpayers in their home, the measure will safeguard a constant revenue stream, as opposed to potentially rendering the home vacant and without taxes being paid on the property.
Parent Empowerment Act
- Chavous plans to author and sponsor The Parent Empowerment Act, a parent trigger law to give parents the ability to transform low-performing schools through parental organizing. After demonstrating consecutive parent involvement at a low-performing school, a parent would have the ability to organize with other parents and select from a set of options to assist in turning the school around. The measure would require that a school integrate the input of parents on the quality of the education their child receives. It also would encourage more parents to participate in their child’s education.
- In schools throughout the District, markedly in Ward 7, parents are continually omitted from the decision-making process concerning their child’s education. With this legislation, parents are given a legal, legitimate seat at the table. DCPS has been presented with many options regarding the fate of low-performing schools. The option being most discussed is school closure. Closing a neighborhood school leaves an incalculable void in a community and often, parents and teachers remain with few other educational alternatives. Nationally, cities are experiencing a growing parent engagement trend and Chavous will ensure Ward 7 is a part of this.
- This measure will positively impact Ward 7, where a disproportionate number of schools presented for closure are located. A recent report of low-performing schools highlighted Ward 7 as the most adversely affected ward in the District. Additionally, Ward 7 schools report some of the lowest standardized test scores of students citywide. This parent trigger legislation presents an option for parents to become a part of the evaluation process for low-performing schools. Quality education is the key to any successful community. As such, Ward 7 parents should be encouraged and empowered to amend these patterns with active parenting, which will result in their ability to participate in a school’s decision-making process. The Parent Empowerment Act gives parents this ability.
Using the Legislative Process to Improve Public Services in Ward 7
- Chavous plans to improve the responsiveness and performance of public services in Ward 7 by using the budget process to allocate more resources to the ward. He also plans to institute a 48-hour first response time policy for constituent service matters handled by his office. A consistent theme in the conversations Chavous has with Ward 7 residents is disappointment with the quality and availability of public services in the ward. Despite the efforts of residents, officials have ignored many of these public service issues, including the poor condition of roads and alleys throughout neighborhoods. Residents also complain about the lack of communication by the District and the Ward 7 Councilmember’s office.
- These problems stem from an erosion of financial resources to public services. According to Mayor Gray in his Committee Report on Public Works and Transportation, the Department of Public Works (DPW) faces significant cuts despite an overall budget increase for FY2012. These cuts put a strain on DPW and have hindered the Department’s ability to deliver public services, according to the agency. As a result, necessary projects throughout the city are avoided or not completed.
- Chavous’ approach will help to improve the standard of living in Ward 7 in a fundamental sense. By using the legislative process to ensure that the needs of residents are represented in the budget, the future availability of those resources will be determined. A 48-hour first response time policy for handling constituent service matters will assist in the efficient resolution of those matters and restore a tone of responsiveness and accountability to the Councilmember’s office.
Election day is Tuesday, April 3, 2012. To learn more about Kevin B. Chavous and his campaign, please visit www.kevinfor7.com, follow him on Twitter @Kevinfor7 and find him on Facebook.