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Arlington County Board Justifies Further Plundering of Taxpayers

On New Year's Day last week, the County Board continued a tradition of holding their organizational meeting. As part of that tradition, the chairman identifies special initiatives that he or she will emphasize during the year. (Since these intiatives generally require taxpayer funding, and since the chairman is generally up for reelection later in the year, the more cynical taxpayer might stop and ask whether they are left holding the bag for the chairman's reelection, but we'll leave the answer for another day.) The five "priority areas" the Board chairman chose for 2004 were: 1) economic sustainability, essentially working to raise state taxes by restructuring the state tax code and establishing a conference center in the county; 2) pushing projects to implement something called "Walk Arlington;" 3) pushing more so-called affordable housing; 4) a patchwork of actions called "investing in children;" and, finally, 5) greater civic involvement. Unfortunately, there is no requirement for the chairman to price out the cost of those initiatives. Taxpayers can read the complete text of the chairman's statement, the county's press release, or the other Board members' statements, which were generally supportive of the chairman. Not surprisingly, the chairman made no mention that county spending has increased 20% over the past two years while inflation has increased only 5.4% over that same period. Nor did she mention that when real estate assessment increases are announced later this month, the average assessment on the average residential property is likely to increase by 16.8%. These are not our numbers. Rather the financial numbers come from Arlington County while the inflation numbers come from the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the need for the county to establish a civic engagement institute is questionable since the county already has a strong network of civic activists, neighborhood associations, and a civic federation. This was pointed out by ACTA's president who also serves as secretary of the Arlington County Civic Federation in the January 2 Washington Post. For further details on these numbers, contact ACTA's president.

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