Arlington County uses a type of accounting referred to as fund accounting that is used in the non-profit and public sector where “organizations have a need for special reporting to financial statements users that show how money is spent, rather than how much profit was earned,” according to Wikipedia. The general fund is the county’s primary fund although other funds are used, e.g., travel and tourism fund, utilities fund, Section 8 housing fund, and the Ballston parking garage fund.
The general fund revenues in the Manager’s proposed FY 2011 budget is estimated to be $941.8 million dollars, down from $961.8 million in FY 2009 (actual) and $946.8 in FY 2010 (proposed). The decrease from 2010 to 2011 is 0.5%. General fund revenues come from three sources: first, real estate taxes, personal property taxes, BPOL tax, sales tax, meals tax, and several other taxes. comprising $772.0 of the $941.8 million; second, licenses, permits, fines and revenues from the state and federal governments, totaling $160.3 million of the $941.8 million; finally, there is the prior year balance of $9.6 million of the $941.8 million general fund balance. (amounts from section A -- budget summaries of the FY 2011 proposed budget)
Except for real estate taxes, the other tax categories were up or down by small amounts, ranging from an increase of 4.4% to a decrease of 4.2%. The real estate taxes at the current rate are estimated to decrease by 7.1%. Since the real estate tax made up almost two-thirds of all tax revenues, that 7.1% decrease is significant. Following the Board’s budget direction, the Manager’s proposed budget would add $36.3 million to the general fund by raising the real estate tax rate by 6.7 cents.
Overall, licenses, permits, fees, fines, etc. are estimated to increase 3.1%. The two largest categories to increase were “charges for services” by 4.4% and revenue from the state increasing by 3.6%.
The Manager also proposes increasing the water/sewer rate by $0.54 per thousand gallons, i.e., from $11.20 to $11.74. In addition, the Manager provides several tax and fee increases “to the County Board but NOT included in the County Manager’s base budget,” e.g., increasing parking ticket fines by $10 and increasing the decal fee from $25 to $33.
Contact the Arlington County Board with your questions.