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A Tale of Two Counties

Today’s tale of two counties (Arlington and Fairfax counties) begins on page 176 of Arlington County's Fiscal Year 2007 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The page contains Table I, which is one of two tables designed to help readers “assess the affordability of the County’s current levels of outstanding debt and its ability to issue additional debt in the future.” Let's look at the two:

  • Arlington County: For Fiscal Years 1998 through 2007, Table I includes the population, total assessed real estate value, net bonded debt, and net bonded debt per capita. Over the 10-year period, Arlington County’s net bonded debt per capita increased from $1,790 to $2,924, an increase of 63.4%.
  • Fairfax County: By comparison, page 230 of Fairfax County’s FY 2007 CAFR shows the comparable numbers for net per capita debt in Fairfax County increased from $1,506 in 1998 to $1,972 in 2007, an increase of 30.9%.

That higher debt per capita in Arlington County means not only a higher cost of debt service, but also means that taxpayers money goes to paying off debt rather than providing county services. Something to remember when voting for the bond referenda in November, too.

To find out just why debt per capita has increased more than twice as fast in Arlington County as in Fairfax County, you may want to ask the Arlington County Board where the phone number is 703-228-3130, or use the contact information in the right column.

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