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Arlington's County and Schools Going in Opposite Directions

On Saturday, March 13, we growled about those big spenders, the Arlington County Board, citing the “fiscal indicators” included in the Acting County Manager’s FY 2011 proposed budget. For example, bonded indebtedness has grown from $2,209 per resident in FY 2002 to $$3,514 in the FY 2011 proposed budget, but if the County Board had been fiscally responsible, and limited per resident bonded debt in line with inflation, the FY 2011 figure would have been $2,661 rather than $3,514.

Today, let’s look at other “fiscal indicators,” which are in section E of the Manager’s FY 2011 proposed budget. They show the County Board has actually been fiscally prudent in contrast to the really big spenders, i.e., the Arlington School Board. As evidence, consider two numbers:
  • County employees per 1,000 residents. In 2002, there were 19.1 county employees per 1,000 residents, but that number decreases to 17.8 employees in FY 2011.
  • School employees per 1,000 students. In 2002, there were 163.0 school employees per 1,000  students, but the number of school employees per 1,000 students increases to 186.4 students in FY 2011.

The bottom line? The county-side of Arlington County government is 6.8% more efficient and economical while the schools-side has become 14.4% less efficient and economical than it was in 2002. When the County Board and the School Board hold their joint budget work session (currently scheduled for Thursday, April 8 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM), will the County Board ask the School Board to explain why the Arlington Public Schools are now operating less efficiently and less economically than they were in 2002?

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