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Arlington County to have Record Cash in Slush Fund

On Friday, October 11, 2013, the Arlington Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey reports "The Arlington County government later this month is likely to set a new record for the amount of cash in its coffers, perhaps further intensifying the question of how much is too much."

Here's the issue, according to McCaffrey:

"Queried by the Sun Gazette, Treasurer Frank O’Leary on Oct. 10 estimated that the amount of money in the government’s various accounts will reach at least $635 million and perhaps as much as $645 million by the reporting date of Oct. 31, which will represent not only the high-water mark for the year, but for all time.

"The amount of cash in the Arlington government’s possession rises rapidly in October, as the second half of real estate taxes, the annual personal-property taxes and a number of business taxes fall due during the month. The total on hand will then decline through next spring, before it is augmented by more business taxes and, in June, the first installment of 2014 real estate taxes.

"The previous single-month high-water mark was set last October, when O’Leary reported $574.2 million on hand and earning interest in various bank accounts and investments. As of Oct. 9 of this year, after real estate and personal property taxes were due, the total on hand stood at $639,949,448."

McCaffrey noted the question of a proper cash balance came up this summer, and noted:

"County Manager Barbara Donnellan and her staff said they weren’t hoarding cash for no reason. New government funding sources, such as tax surcharges for wastewater management and transportation, mean money piles up over time until it can be spent on big-ticket projects, Donnellan said at the time."

We growled about the Arlington County Board's slush fund on August 29, 2013 after the Arlington Sun Gazette first reported the issue. Peter Rousselot, former chairman of the Arlington County Democratic Committee has discussed Arlington County's "cash surplus" in two separate columns of ARLnow.com -- here and most recently on September 27, 2013. In addition, Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz responded to Rousselot's first column on September 5, 2013..

Rather than piling up taxpayers hard-earned money in various shoe boxes sitting around the Palace of Versailles at Courthouse Plaza, shouldn't the Arlington County Board be making refunds to Arlington County taxpayers?


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