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Taxpayers to County Board: There is a Tomorrow

When I was a youngster, and my Mother thought I was spending what I earned from my paper route too freely, she would ask me, “So, are you spending like there’s no tomorrow?” Looks like the County Manager is telling the spendthrift Arlington County Board much same thing.

In a story with no comments by any of the five County Board solons, Scott McCaffrey of the Arlington Sun-Gazette posted a story last night that begins:

“The Arlington County government stands at risk of exceeding its own debt limits and putting its bond rating at risk, if it doesn't rein in future bond referendums and capital spending, County Manager Ron Carlee has warned.

“The government's total debt has ballooned from $387 million in 2000 to $641 million in 2007, an average annual growth rate of 9.4 percent that Carlee says now is “not sustainable” over the long term.

“In a memo to County Board members on Jan. 16, Carlee said projected lower growth in government revenues presented the possibility that the government might in the future exceed its self-imposed cap on debt, which requires that total annual debt funding be no more than 10 percent of government operating expenditures.

“How does this matter to the typical Arlingtonian? It means the county government may soon start having major choices to make: Build a new high school, or construct the North Tract recreation complex? Complete existing projects, or start new ones? Seek to make deals with developers for joint-use projects, or not?”

McCaffrey’s complete story should be a ‘must read’ for every Arlington taxpayer because it contains a great deal more information than just the short excerpt above. A couple questions, though. First, why wasn’t the information disclosed before last November’s election so that it could be discussed by the candidates for the Arlington County Board? Second, why are there no quotes from Board members in this story? Now you’d think at least one of the five wise solons would have something to say in response to the Manager’s call to slow down capital spending.

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