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$1.04 Billion Not Enough for County Board Masterminds

What else should Arlington County taxpayers think after learning that $1.04 billion in revenues will still leave the poohbahs at Courthouse Plaza and in the Arlington Public Schools $50 million short ($25 million each for the County and the Schools although that's $50 million looted from Arlington taxpayers). Here's how Scott McCaffrey begins his report in the Arlington Sun Gazette today:

"Top county staff anticipate having a record amount of money – nearly $1.04 billion – to spend in the fiscal year that begins next June, but say it won’t be enough to meet what government officials say are their needs for the year.

"As a result, early projections suggest the government will need to fill a $25 budget gap by some combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, or by dipping into reserve funds.

"That’s the scenario being laid out by County Manager Barbara Donnellan in her initial fiscal 2014 budget forecast sent to County Board members.

"The projection anticipates total revenue of $1.039 billion for the fiscal year, up 0.4 percent from the current year, but sees expenses rising at a rate of 1.2 percent. Costs to operate new facilities like the Arlington Mill Community Center – coupled with rising employee costs, higher contributions to the Metro system and a slightly higher (in dollar figures) transfer to the school system – all impact the bottom line, Donnellan reports.

"And it won’t be a single-year phenomenon . . . ."

The Manager's report to the County Board that provides the financial forecasts for Mr. McCaffrey's report is item 29 (requires Adobe) on Arlington County Board's agenda this morning. See also this press release from the County's "newsroom" on Saturday, which provides a useful summary of the Board's guidance.

Incidentally, in our November 2, 2012 Growls asking if Arlington needed a $72 million swimming palace, we wrote in  the last paragraph about a six-year financial forecast that had not been prepared for at least two years even though the County's CIP requires its preparation annually. Well, it won't surprise anyone familiar with Arlington County to learn a six-year forecast has suddenly appeared. In fact, there are two included as part of Agenda Item 29, the Manager's report to the Board masterminds -- one labelled "slow assessment growth scenario" and a second labelled "normalized assessment growth scenario." Not bad but at least six months late since staff was asked about it when they briefed the Civic Federation in June.

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