The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for Fiscal Year 2013, which ended June 30, 2013, is now posted in the accounting records of the Department of Management & Finance (DM&F). The statistical section, beginning on page 163, contains a wealth of information that allows evaluation of the county's financial management for the years 2004 to 2013.
Before starting the analysis of the CAFR, let's note for the record that the inflation rate over those ten years -- using the CPI-U numbers -- was 26.97%, or an annual average of 2.7%. Also, population increased from 198,739 to 221,045, or 11.2%. In addition, Arlington Public School enrollment increased 19.1%, going from 19,120 in FY 2004 to FY 2013. Finally, per capita income increased 42.6% from FY 2004 ($57,851) to FY 2013 ($82,491).
So let's start by looking at General Governmental Expenditures by Function (Table D-1, page 169):
- Total expenditures increased from $1,096 million in FY 2012 to $1,122 million in FY 2013, or 2.3%.
- Total expenditures increased from $745.8 million in FY 2004 to $1,122 million in FY 2013, 50.5%, an annual average of 5.1%.
- Public Works/Environmental Services expenditures increased 2.1% from FY 2012 to FY 2013. However, over the ten-year period, Public Works/Environmental Services increased from $38.9 million in FY 2004 to $77.4 million, or an average annual increase of 9.8%.
- Education expenditures increased 9.3% from FY 2012 to FY 2013, but averaged 5.3% annually from FY 2004 to FY 2013.
- Debt service increased 4.1% from FY 2012 to FY 2013, but shows an annual increase of 6.3% from FY 2004 to FY 2013.
- Spending for transit increased 4.1% from FY 2012 to FY 2013, but increased at an annual rate of 13.0% over the 10-years.
- Adjusting total expenditures for inflation and the increased population means spending still grew 6.6% over the 10-year period after adjusting for population and inflation.
Data for outstanding debt includes debt for both governmental and business-type activities, and includes debt per capita and percentage of personal income information (Table I, page 175):
- Outstanding debt per capita increased from $2,939 in FY 2004 to $5,874 in FY 2013, an increase of 99.9%, or an annual average of 10.0%.
- After adjusting for inflation, debt per capita increased 57.4%, or an annual average of 5.7%.
- The percent of personal income ranges from 5.08% in FY 2004 to 7.89% in FY 2013.
General bonded debt includes both general obligation bonds and industrial development issues (Table I-1):
- Debt per capita grew from $2,525 in FY 2004 to $4,082 in FY 2013, an increase of 61.6% or an annual rate of 6.2%.
- After adjusting for inflation, debt per capita still increased 27.3%, or an average increase of 2.7%.
Table P on page 184 contains information about debt service expenditures. Of primary interest is that as a percentage of debt service to total general expenditures, the percentage ranged from 7.63% in FY 2004 to 8.28% in FY 2013 with a high of 8.65% in FY 2011 to a low of 7.54% in FY 2007. This percentage is important because it is County Board policy to stay under 10.0%.
The final portion of this analysis involves the number of county and schools employees, shown as full-time equivalents. or FTE (Table M on page 181). For the county, information is by department/function but only total school positions. A few of the departments with noteworthy changes:
- Staffing in Technology Services increased from 61.7 in FY 2004 to 74.0 in FY 2013, an increase of 19.9%.
- Office of Emergency Management increased from 51.5 in FY 2004 to 79.5 in FY 2013, an increase of 54.4%.
- County Attorney staffing increased 27.3%, going from 11.0 in FY 2004 to 14.0 in FY 2013.
- Library staffing decreased 13.0%, dropping from 155.8 FTE in FY 2004 to 135.6 FTE in FY 2013.
The employment numbers together with the population/enrollment data elsewhere in the statistical section enables a look at just how efficient the County Manager and the Superintendent are managing their operations.
- County: in FY 2004, there were 18.68 FTE per 1,000 residents, but by FY 2013, county operations became more efficient since there were only 17.05 FTE per 1,000 residents, an increased efficiency of 8.7%.
- Schools: in 2004, there were 186.02 FTE per 1,000 students, but by FY 2013, there were only 177.79 FTE per 1,000 students, meaning that Schools efficiency increased 4.4%.
So while there is still too much local government in Arlington County, and too high taxes, the numbers above show some numbers such as the efficiency ones are moving in the right direction. Kudos to the Manager and staff for keeping the FY 2012 to FY 2013 increase in total expenditures to less than the inflation rate. Also to the Manager, especially, and the Superintendent for increasing operational efficiency..