Public Works & Operations Committee Budget Remarks

Councilmember Nadeau made the following remarks at the Committee on Public Works & Operations mark-up for the FY 2025 budget on May 9, 2024.

This marks my second budget as Chair of the Committee on Public Works and Operations. This Committee has areas of critical importance to the public, and I’m as energized as ever by the work. Several of the agencies in our committee are residents’ most common interaction points with DC Government. Many are charged with providing access to justice for our residents, whether it’s consumer protection, upholding human rights and worker protections, access to public benefits or the ability to adjudicate fines; they impact people’s lives every day. This committee also oversees critical daily functions of our government such as waste management and parking enforcement – the bread and butter of local government.

This Report of Recommendations of the Committee on Public Works and Operations on the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget for Agencies under its Purview was developed with research and public and stakeholder engagement. The Committee held seven performance oversight hearings and five budget oversight hearings on the agencies in its portfolio.

I want to thank all our agency directors and my colleagues on the committee for your tireless work during this oversight process. I especially want to thank the District residents and stakeholders who joined us online, emailed written testimony, left voicemails, and scheduled meetings to make sure the Committee was well informed when making recommendations for this budget. Your experiences and insights helped shape these recommendations.

I also want to thank all our colleagues in the Chief Financial Officers office and in the executive branch for taking on the very daunting challenge of preparing multiple budgets, all with the additional complication of less favorable revenue estimates forcing late-hour adjustments. Although I may not agree with every choice made, I appreciate the hard work and commitment to the agencies under this committee’s purview, responsible for executing many of the District’s most essential services.

Now I will discuss some of the committee’s key recommendations in more detail.

These investments reflect the Committee’s commitment to preserving and strengthening those critical services, from trash collection and composting services to streamlining business licensing and ensuring sufficient staffing to handle administrative claims and human rights protections.

This markup also reflects the Committee’s commitment to using resources wisely across city government to enhance public safety, supporting the District’s most vulnerable residents, and supporting businesses. The Committee’s budget makes strategic reductions to some of the Mayor’s proposed new investments, but only does so by introducing measures to control costs, improve performance management, and facilitate better services.

Keeping Our City Clean and Livable

To start, the Committee’s recommended budget makes critical investments in ensuring that our city is clean and livable.

First, it strengthens enforcement of solid waste violations that impact residential and business neighborhoods across the District. I want to thank my colleague Councilmember Lewis George for transferring $312,361 in recurring operating funds from the Committee on Facilities and Family Services to hire 4.0 FTEs as SWEEP inspectors at DPW.  

In addition, this budget adds $420,000 in one-time funds to the Department of Public Works to continue the standalone public restrooms pilot program that I funded at the agency last year, with five “Throne” units. I also want to thank my colleague Councilmember Allen for a transfer of an additional $90,000 from the Committee on Transportation & Environment for a sixth standalone restroom at Eastern Market Metro Plaza.

Public Safety

This budget also makes investments in public safety. My approach to public safety has always been a holistic one; no one tool alone is going to reduce crime. The solution is a mix of short-term immediate interventions and longer-term measures, and the Committee’s budget recommendations reflect this. The recommendations are largely based on a coordinated approach to addressing violence and proven methods of creating safer communities that includes efforts in prevention, policing, and prosecution. I will briefly discuss the ones that have been my priority in the budget this year:

These budget recommendations address prevention by continuing to provide support to people living with substance use disorders in Columbia Heights and adjacent neighborhoods, to benefit individuals and create healthy neighborhoods, by transferring $750,000 to the Committee on Health to support continued grantmaking.

In the area of policing, the Committee’s recommendations respond to resident requests and improves public safety by adding two mobile surveillance cameras in the Third and Fourth police districts through a transfer to the Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety of $180,000 in one-time funds and $10,000 in recurring for operational costs.

To give greater support to prosecution, the Committee recommendation adds staff to the city’s crime scene services team to better meet demand at the Department of Forensic Sciences, through a transfer of $19,000 to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. And I do just want to note that while this transfer out was not reflected in the circulated report, it will be in the final filed report.

In addition, this budget expands the Department of For-Hire Vehicles’ enforcement capacity by adding new officers and funding the replacement and acquisition of new vehicles.

It also enhances DPW’s ability to target scofflaw vehicles by funding automatic license plate readers to be installed on tow cranes.

Supporting the Rights, Health, and Wellbeing of Residents

Supporting the rights, health, and wellbeing of our residents has always been a priority of mine, and this budget season is no different. The Committee’s budget:

Restores funding to the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children in collaboration with the Committee on Facilities and Family Services; this Committee transfers $400,000, recurring, to complete the restoration of funds cut by the Mayor.

It improves timeliness in resolving administrative cases that have a tangible effect on residents’ lives, for benefits like SNAP and unemployment insurance. This is achieved by restoring $187,000 in recurring funding for temporary contractual workers at the Office of Administrative Hearings.

This budget helps protect renters, by restoring one investigator in the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection to ensure compliance with corporate property owner disclosures, so that bad actors can no longer hide behind opaque LLCs.

It reduces the backlog of cases of discrimination, by providing 2.0 Equal Opportunity Specialist FTEs to assist with reducing the aged backlog of cases and other enforcement efforts at the Office of Human Rights.

This budget also restores $200,000 to the Fair Housing Program at OHR.

There are two transfers totaling $500k to the Health Committee that expand access to healthcare and social services, to fund home visiting for expectant parents and increased access to social services under Medicaid.

And, finally, this budget expands services for the LGBTQ+ community with several enhancements and policy changes. There is a $500,000 transfer to the Committee on Business and Economic Development to fund completion of a LGBTQ+ Community Center next to Howard Theater, and investment in 10 dedicated housing vouchers for LGBTQ+ residents with a transfer to the Committee on Housing.

Through a new BSA subtitle, the Committee also establishes a new budget chapter and agency code for the Office of LGBTQ affairs. This does not change the office’s position within the org chart or remove it from EOM, but it will improve budget transparency and ensure that their budget of over $1M reflects the budgeting practices of peer offices of similar size. There is a table included in the one-page summary of updates that highlights this.

Another theme of this committee’s budget is the Efficient and Effective Use of Public Funds.

All of the critical enhancements made within the Committee and outside of it have one common theme – good governance. In other words, the Committee’s recommendations are largely based on identifying inefficient or wasteful spending and reallocating those funds to the most important priorities of District residents. I have already discussed many of the priorities that the Committee was able to support, so I will briefly conclude by discussing a handful of recommended reductions in the report.

Last year, this Committee’s budget did not allocate funds towards the Business and Entrepreneurship Support to Thrive Amendment Act, or BEST Act, which CM Pinto introduced in 2021 along with me, CM McDuffie and Chairman Mendelson. I strongly support making business licensing more streamlined and affordable to support our businesses and DC’s economy, there was too much uncertainty and a lack of available resources in the FY24 budget year to be able to move forward on full funding in this Committee. This year, the Mayor fully funded the bill in her proposed FY2025 budget, with funds matching an updated Fiscal Impact Statement that had costs much higher than initially reported when the bill was marked up.

Through the course of oversight and committee analysis, we determined that the cost of implementation related to licensure consolidation is unnecessarily high due to the way the bill as passed structures its mandate. A new proposed BSA subtitle ensures that the entirety of the BEST Act remains fully funded, while enabling DLCP to approach implementation in a more cost-effective way that reduces implementation cost by $2,000,000.

This budget completely maintains investments that reduce and standardize licensing fees and enacts changes to the code that radically streamline the District’s outdated statutes.

This budget also reallocates $1,729,176 from the Chief Technology Officer’s proposed budget for a new Office of Artificial Intelligence to restore cuts and invest in other core functions.

Finally, the Committee’s recommendations address operations and cost concerns with the DC School Connect program. School Connect is a program under DFHV that provides students a safer alternative to get to and from school. Over the last year and a half, this Committee has spent considerable time, resources, and oversight attention on School Connect.

DC School Connect was initiated by the Mayor only a few years ago and, until the Mayor’s proposed FY2025 budget, was entirely funded through ARPA dollars as a pilot program. When asked about the decision to continue DC School Connect over all other ARPA-funded programs, the Department indicated that the decision was based on a review of data by the Office of the City Administrator, which showed improvements in attendance because of the program. However, the Committee was never presented with this information. Instead, the Mayor’s proposed budget doubles down on areas of concern like extremely inflated costs and an inability to reduce cost per-ride in a meaningful or sustainable way, an absence of any targeted assistance for the most at-risk students, and two consecutive fiscal years where budget errors exceed $1 million are identified.

The Committee is not convinced, based on the numbers and data provided, that the program is efficiently operated, or that it is it sustainable. Therefore, the Committee’s proposed budget reduces the School Connect budget by $2,000,000 to align the program budget with actual operating costs. This will allow DFHV to continue providing service for currently served families for the upcoming school year.

In addition, the Committee recommends a new subtitle, “School Connect Pilot Program Transition Act of 2024” which requires the Mayor to form a working group involving relevant agencies and DC School Connect participants to devise a sunset plan. I’ll go into more detail on this subtitle in a few moments.


With that, I now want to turn to the eight Budget Support Act subtitles proposed by the Mayor, as well as five new subtitles proposed by the Committee.


The first of the Mayor’s subtitles is the Public Sector Workers Compensation Across-the-Board Increase Clarification Amendment Act.

This subtitle amends the District of Columbia Government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act of 1978 to clarify that whenever a uniform across-the-board salary increase is awarded to District employees, the Mayor must also increase public sector workers’ compensation payments the same percentage amount. It also clarifies that “across-the-board” is applicable to the Career Service salary schedule only.

The subtitle is needed to provide clarity and uniformity in the administration of the Employees’ Compensation Fund to ensure correct and consistent application of adjustments to wage-loss indemnity payments to workers’ compensation beneficiaries, whether they are current or former employees. 

We recommend approval of this subtitle.

Second, the Mayor proposed the Medical Captive Claims Reserve Amendment Act of 2024.

The subtitle updates the Captive Insurance Agency Establishment Act of 2008 by adjusting the liability limit. Instead of being based on the Captive Trust Fund, it will now be tied to the Medical Captive Insurance Claims Reserve Fund. The Medical Captive Agency provides various insurance services, including medical malpractice coverage for health centers and insurance for District assets. Identification of the correct fund will ensure the availability of the intended fund to pay medical malpractice claims for the insured health centers. 

We recommend approval of this subtitle.

Third, the Mayor proposed the Housing Subsidy Contract Extensions Amendment Act of 2024.

A recently enacted law exempted the renewal of project-based, long-term subsidy contracts with housing providers from competitive bidding. It also extended the maximum length allowed for an initial subsidy contract from 15 to 20 years. This subtitle makes technical adjustments to the law by removing references to the Procurement Practices Reform Act of 2010 (PPRA), since these long-term contracts are considered grants and are not subject to the PPRA.

We recommend approval of this subtitle.

Fourth is the WorldPride Grants Act of 2024, which the Committee recommends retitling as the WorldPride Grants Administration Act of 2024.

As I’m sure my colleagues know, the District of Columbia is preparing to host WorldPride, an international LGBTQ+ event, in 2025. This subtitle clarifies grant requirements for WorldPride 2025 and requires the Mayor to submit a draft budget for the use of WorldPride grants, along with other information about the use of funds.

However, the Committee is concerned about the lack of clarity and instruction being given to the Office by the executive. As such, the Committee has added language to the subtitle.

With these changes, the Mayor would now be required to submit a comprehensive report to the Council prior to granting any funds. This report must outline the intended uses of the grant funds, provide a breakdown of the budget by purpose, specify the agencies responsible for managing the grants, describe the intended recipients for each purpose, estimate the total WorldPride grants budget, detail the amount of funds allocated for special events reimbursement costs, and disclose any grants or contracts from District sources awarded in support of WorldPride.

WorldPride is a huge undertaking that requires precision and planning to be executed successfully. As such, it is vital that there is transparency and accountability surrounding the distribution of $5M in grant funds. The report will ensure that the Council and community are informed about how and where the grants will be spent and that the funding is used properly and exhausted.

We recommend approval of this subtitle with the changes described.

Fifth, the Mayor proposes the Vision Zero Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Fund Amendment Act of 2024.

The Vision Zero Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Fund, which supports improvements in pedestrian and bicycle transportation in the District, currently falls under DDOT. It receives $500,000 annually from Automated Traffic Enforcement Revenues. This subtitle proposes transferring control of the fund from DDOT to the Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure (DMOI). The FY2025 budget transfers control of the fund from DDOT to DMOI. The FY2025 budget also transfers $203,307 from the fund’s certified fund balance to the District’s Local fund.

The Committee supports this transfer because the Vision Zero initiative is now under DMOI instead of DDOT; under these circumstances, we agree that it is appropriate for the fund to also be managed by DMOI.

Therefore, we recommend approving this subtitle.

Sixth, we have the Mayor’s Clean Curbs Pilot Amendment Act of 2024.

The purpose of the Clean Curbs Pilot Amendment Act of 2024 is to repeal the Clean Curbs Pilot Program Act of 2023. The Clean Curbs Pilot Program Act was proposed by this Committee last year to establish a pilot program at the Department of Public Works to provide solid waste collection services through shared containers to residential homes currently services by DPW via front-of home pickup. The legislation also required DPW to publish a database indicating which DPW-serviced homes receive front-of-home waste collection services versus alley waste collection services.

As much as I hate to repeal a pilot program that I introduced, the Committee recommends approval of this subtitle. The legislation specified that, in order for a block to be selected for participation in the program, DPW would need to receive a signed petition containing signatures from one adult resident of no fewer than 70 percent of households serviced by DPW on the block. While DPW made a good faith effort to obtain the required petitions, and kept the Committee apprised of its efforts, it was ultimately unable to meet this requirement.

I’d also like to note that a portion of the funding intended for program – $511,000 – will be used to purchase Smart waste bins and Smart Compost bins – an investment that I’m excited about, as it will be a valuable contribution to our waste diversion efforts.

The Committee recommends approval of this subtitle as introduced.

Seventh, the Mayor proposes the Illegal Vending Enforcement Amendment Act of 2024.

The subtitle grants the Mayor the authority to seize, tow, and impound food trucks if they are vending without a valid business license or permit, or if they are illegally parked. If a tow truck is not readily available, the Mayor can immobilize the food truck. Owners will be notified of impoundment details, fines, and procedures for recovery either at the time of impoundment or via mail. Owners can reclaim their vehicles by paying associated fees. If infractions leading to impoundment are dismissed, the District will refund fees. Unclaimed vehicles may be disposed of by the Mayor. The Mayor can engage private entities for towing, impounding, and releasing food trucks.

The Committee supports this new authority and is optimistic about how it may enhance enforcement on food trucks, particularly addressing issues such as unlicensed operation on the National Mall, which has led to health violations and significant revenue loss for the Department.

We recommend approval of this subtitle.

Finally, eighth, the Mayor proposed the Late Business License Renewal Penalty Waivers Amendment Act of 2024.

DLCP sends license renewal notices within sixty days of the pending expiration of their business licenses. Failure to renew results in a lapsed license with penalties: $250 within 30 days, or $500 between 30 days to six months. After six months, a licensee must reapply as a new applicant. If the licensee continued to operate over the six-month period without a license, then they will be subject to other penalties and fees for conducting business without a valid license. The subtitle allows the DLCP director to waive penalties for renewal within six months if good cause is shown.

The Committee recommends approval of this subtitle.

While we approve both of these subtitles, I want to note that in the Mayor’s proposed BSA, neither this subtitle or the previous one related to DLCP included any fiscal impact or budget nexus. The Committee has not yet received information on this, despite multiple requests to DLCP, and will continue to explore whether it can be considered appropriately germane to the budget.


Moving to the Committee’s proposals, the Committee Recommends the adoption of the LGBTQ Affairs Budget Transparency Amendment Act of 2024.

The proposed subtitle aims to improve the structure and transparency of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. It requires future directors to be approved by the Council, aligns their compensation with the Executive Service schedule, sets specific grant administration requirements, and clarifies the Office’s role in coordinating grants for WorldPride.

The current setup of the office within the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs lacks transparency and oversight compared to similar offices. Despite having a sizable budget, it operates with less accountability, hindering effective oversight by the Council and the community. To address this, the Committee proposes establishing a separate budget chapter and agency attributes. This move is intended to provide the office with greater autonomy and transparency, enabling more accurate tracking of spending and assessing its impact on the community.

Second, the Committee recommends the adoption of the Boot Removal Penalty Cost Parity Amendment Act of 2024.

This subtitle raises fines imposed by DPW for vehicle booting and boot destruction. The recommendation stems from DPW’s indication that current fees don’t cover the costs of these activities or acquiring new boots. The adjustment aims to align fees with costs and generate modest additional revenue.

Third, the Committee recommends adoption of the School Connect Pilot Program Transition Act of 2024.

The School Connect program is in the wrong agency, is expensive, and we don’t know if it’s serving the right target audience – all of which makes a clear case for examination and change.

This subtitle requires the Mayor to form a working group comprising relevant agencies. The group, in consultation with DCSC participants, must devise a plan to either: (1) phase out the pilot program and allocate resources to enhance other school transportation programs; or (2) if the program continues, determine a suitable agency within education or public safety clusters to oversee its operation.

The Committee considers these actions critical to achieving a primary goal of responsible stewardship for DFHV, which necessitates a transition away from functions that are not core to its mission. Even if DC School Connect were successful, it shouldn’t permanently reside under DFHV due to resource consumption beyond its budget and the risks to the Department’s essential duties as a consumer protection, traffic safety, and regulatory agency.

Next, the Committee recommends adoption of the Taxicab Rate Structure Rulemaking Authority Amendment Act of 2024.

This subtitle enables the issuance of a finalized rulemaking by DFHV, which it currently lacks the authority to issue. This rulemaking includes a fare increase aimed at supporting the economic wellbeing of operators, specifically increasing the taxicab passenger surcharge from 25 cents to 50 cents.

In recommending this legislation, we recognize $2,184,000.00 across the financial plan. The current taxicab fare structure has remained unchanged since 2012, prompting the Department to initiate a proposed rulemaking process to address economic sustainability for drivers, service quality improvement, fair competition, and efficiency in the transportation system.

Taxicab operators are excited about this fare increase, reflecting the need for adjustments due to changes in the for-hire vehicle industry, cost-of-living increases, and inflationary pressures impacting drivers. The Department testified that the Mayor’s proposed FY2025 budget for DFHV does not account for the changes resulting from the nearly-final rulemaking. Setting and modifying taxi fares and surcharges is one of the Department’s mission-critical functions – arguably the primary duty of a taxicab regulator, alongside consumer protections. Thus, the Committee recommends enacting the planned increase in the passenger surcharge through a new BSA subtitle mandating that the Mayor or a designee issue any finalized rulemakings.

I do want to flag that, as originally drafted, the revenue generated by this subtitle was Special Purpose, and that was what was stated in the circulated draft committee report. However, after making some edits to the subtitle, the revenue generated is now in local funds. This will be reflected in the final filed committee report.

Finally, the Committee recommends adoption of the Business Licensing Simplification Initiative Amendment Act of 2024.

This subtitle streamlines the requirements for basic business licensure consolidation, originally detailed in the Business and Entrepreneurship Support to Thrive Amendment Act of 2022. It also requires the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection to formulate a comprehensive plan for consolidating the business licensure process, while ensuring that it remains manageable for both businesses and regulatory authorities.

*         *         *

When we first received this budget, like many of my colleagues I had a lot of concerns and not a lot of hope.

But today, we are moving a committee report that restores funding to critical programs, brings back agency positions needed to provide residents with the robust services they need and expect, and brings to life important programs and services that we’ve passed in the past two years and will reach and benefit District residents living in all eight Wards.


“The Council has gone through yet another budget process while the commission has sat on its hands.”
Yes, this was a difficult year. And we were handed a difficult budget. I’m proud of the work this Council has done to make an unpalatable budget better.

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