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The Greed of the Political Elite

Mondays' Washington Post reports that "Montgomery County leaders are preparing for a olitical battle this spring over whether to cut the property tax rate or use the additional revenues to support an increasingly strained network of government services." Some politiccal leaders, however, recognize it is possible to kill the golden goose. The paper quotes Council member Nancy Floreen (D) saying, "Our challenge is to recognize the fact that disposable incomes are not increasing at the same rate as assessments." And even though Monthgomery County's budget has increased $1 billion over the past seven years (by comparison, Arlington's current FY2005 budget is $871 million), the paper notes "officials and community leaders say the dollars are not keeping pace with needs." One Council member, George Leventhal (D) who is reportedly planning to run for county executive says, "The list of needs is endless." Interestingly, the story's headline notes that Montgomery County home values are "surging," and the paper notes that one third of homeowners "saw an average 69 percent increase in their assessments" last week. Arlington taxpayers need to brace themselves for very large assessment increases as well since the County Manager has said that average increase will be 20%. A 1990 charter amendment in Montgomery County requires budget increases be limited essentially to the increases in the inflation unless 7 of 9 Council members vote to override the cap, but Arlington has no such cap.

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