County Board Considers “Critical Needs” and Employee Compensation
The Arlington County Board held two “wrap-up sessions” this week in getting set for its April 21 meeting when it is scheduled to adopt a budget for Fiscal Year 2013. In today’s meeting, staff received “final follow-up” to previously raised Board questions. The schedule of budget work sessions contains links to a great deal of budget information that supplements information in the Manager’s proposed budget.
At the Clarendon-Courthouse-Rosslyn Patch online news website on Wednesday, Lauren Sausser reported that Board and staff discussed a list of ‘critical’ budget needs. For example:
“The critical needs list includes:
"Other recommendations made by county staff, but not included on the critical needs list, include:
- Converting old paper files in the human resources department into electronic files, $23,700.
- Funding a position at the county employment center, $76,154.
- Restoring library branch hours that were cut during the recession, $442,996
- Police recruitment, $380,000.
- Improving cyber security, $244,400.
- Setting aside a general fund emergency "contingent," $500,000.
- Compensating employees for the Christmas and New Year's holidays, $250,000.
- Hiring a consultant for a housing survey, $400,000.
- Funding a "step" increase, which would bump up the salaries for some county employees, $747,668.
This afternoon, Patch reporter Jason Spencer just reported on a meeting the Board held earlier today where “the focus was on employee compensation.” One item discussed involved whether to spend $114,000 for about 40 so-called “live-where-you work” grants. Spencer reported it this way:
“The county, too, could once again fund a live-where-you-work program. Putting $114,000 into that program would allow the county to offer one-time grants to its employees who decide to buy a house in Arlington.
“That funding level should be sufficient for about 40 employees, said Jeanne Wardlaw, the county's Compensation Division chief. Grants are capped at 1 percent of the average home price in Arlington, she said.
“About 25 percent of Arlington employees live in the county. Board member Chris Zimmerman pointed out that a much higher percentage of local government employees — law enforcement and non-law enforcement — live where they work in the city of Alexandria and Fairfax County.
"It's a relatively small amount of money, but it's a permanent commitment," Zimmerman said. "I wasn't crazy about the fact that it was defunded before."
“The program has been funded in the past at about the level that was talked about Friday. It was cut in 2009, as the Great Recession forced the county to cut back on everything from library hours to employee compensation.”
The Board is scheduled to hold it’s “mark-up” session on Tuesday, April 17, when “final budget decisions” are made during the 3:00 -- 5:00 P.M. meeting. Attend the meeting if you can since it will be much more animated than will the Board’s budget adoption meeting on April 21, 2012.