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Big Spending Arlington County Board

If Arlington County taxpayers want to see just how much the Arlington County Board likes to spend their tax dollars, they can spend a few minutes with a calculator and the page labelled “selected fiscal indicators: FY 2002 - FY 2011” in section E, glossary and appendices, of the Manager’s FY 2011 proposed budget. In addition, taxpayers will need to be able to calculate inflation, e.g., using the handy U.S. Department of Labor’s “CPI Inflation Calculator”.

With those tools handy, taxpayers can compute how some of the indicators have changed from 2002 to 2010 based upon changes in population and inflation on a per capita basis. Several examples:

  • General fund spending. In FY 2002, general fund expenditures were $612.8 million, or $3,172 per resident. In the FY 2011 proposed budget , general fund expenditures are budgeted for $946.8 million, or $4,414 per resident. If the County Board had controlled general fund spending at the increases in population and inflation, spending per resident in the FY 2011 proposed budget would have been $3,821 per resident, or $649 less per resident.
  • Bonded indebtedness. In FY 2002, bonded indebtedness was $426.9 million, but will grow to $753.9 million in the Manager’s FY 2011 proposed budget. On a per resident basis, bonded indebtedness was $2,209 in FY 2002 and will be $3,514 in FY 2011. If the County Board had controlled bonding to grow no more than the rate of inflation, it would have grown from $2,209 per resident in FY 2002 to only $2,661 per resident in FY 2011, increaseing only $452 per resident rather than $1,305 per resident.
  • Total debt service as a percentage of General Fund Expenditures. According to the County’s own numbers, debt grows by 30%, going from 8.0% of General Fund expenditures in FY 2002 to 10.4% in the FY 2011 proposed budget.
  • Metro subsidy and debt service as a percentage of the General Fund. Again according to the County's own numbers, this percentage goes from 2.1% in FY 2002 to 3.1% in the FY 2011 proposed budget, an increase of 47%.

Time for a new set of five worthies?

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