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Budget Battles and Economic Reality

At the online Arlington Sun Gazette, there's reporting from yesterday evening's tax rate hearing (we previously growled about Tuesday's budget hearing here) with the following lede:

"Budget hawks urged restraint, while housing and social-services advocates pressed County Board members on March 28 to enact as high a real estate tax rate as legally permissible.

"The setting was the (Arlington County Board’s) annual hearing on proposed taxes and fees, a generally less crowded forum than the budget public hearing traditionally held two days prior."

For example, the Board was told they could "give back to the community with a tax increase this year" by one of the "affordable housing" special interests. The Sun Gazette's report was balanced with the following, however:

"On the other end of the spectrum was Tim Wise, president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, who said government spending had gotten so out of control over the past decade that no increase in the tax rate was warranted for fiscal 2014.

"Wise praised County Manager Barbara Donnellan for following the County Board’s directive in closing a budget gap through a 50-50 combination of budget cuts and tax increases.

"Donnellan’s budget proposal calls for an increase of 3.2 cents per $100 in the tax rate. “But nooooooo, that wasn’t good enough” for the County Board, Wise said.

"Increasing the tax rate to $1.021 per $100 would push a typical homeowner’s local-tax burden past $7,000 this year, which Wise suggested could be a crushing blow to many residents already facing another year of economic uncertainty.

“There’s a lot of people who aren’t suffering, but a lot who are,” he said."

It was hard to out do Bob Atkins, however. According to the Sun Gazette:

"Somewhere in the middle was vocal local activist Robert Atkins, who said the County Board should follow Donnellan’s recommendation and hold the rate increase to 3.2 cents. He suggested each board member “get a visa on your passport, so you can visit economic reality.”

“Federal taxes are going up, state taxes are going up, real estate taxes are going up,” Atkins said. “Everything is going up except the earnings of the average resident of Arlington.”

And if you think the tax-and-spend Arlington County Board can't waste any more of your hard-earned tax dollars, then you haven't heard about their $1 million bus stops, called Super Stops, they have started building on Columbia Pike. Fortunately, they've got the attention of both the Washington Post's Patricia Sullivan this past Monday, and this  particularly devastating report from CBS News. So devastating in fact that the Arlington County Board released this press release today saying they are "reassessing Super Stop design." So devastating that one consultant in the CBS New report said the Super Stops are "super soakers" because taxpayers were "getting hosed." And CBS' Chip Reid, who reported the story for CBS referred to the benches as "fancy schmancy." Here's Sullivan's report posted this afternoon that  Arlington has "temporarily halted bus stop construction.

If you're wondering what a $1 million Super Stop looks like, here's a picture (see link in previous paragraph), courtesy of the press release announcing that Arlington County is reassessing the Super Stops.


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