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Growth of Arlington County Debt Service

General government spending in the county grew from $558.1 million in FY 2000 to $958.0 million in FY 2009, or 76.5%. Debt service, i.e, the payment of principal and interest on  the county’s borrowing, however, grew by 90.0%, going from $43.9 million to $83.6 million. The numbers can be found in Table D-1, “General Governmental Expenditures by Functions,” on page 167 of the FY 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which contains the county’s audited financial statements -- at the Department of Management & Finance’s webpage.

Another way of looking at the increase is on a per capita basis. In 2000, Arlington County’s population was 189,453, resulting in a per capita debt service of $232.13. Ten years late, the county estimates its population at 209,300. As a result, the per capita debt service is $399.30.

Table D-1 is part of the CAFR’s statistical section, and provides expenditures in ten categories. Of the ten categories of expenditures, only two grew faster than debt service, i.e., public works/environmental services, which grew at 156.3% and “contributions” to WMATA, which grew by 162.0%.

Will the 90.0% growth in spending for debt service over the ten-year period 2000 -2009 risk the county’s Triple A bond rating? Not likely, especially in the short-term. However, it’s sure something to consider in the polling both when voting on bond referenda.


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