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Civic Federation Speaks, County Board Listens?

This afternoon, the Arlington County Board held its "final budget decisions" meeting of the FY 2016 budget season, and "indicated it will not raise property tax rates for Calendar Year 2015 when it adopts the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget on Tuesday, April 21. All five Board members indicated during the final budget work session that they will vote for no tax rate increase," according to this county press release.

The press release contained the following bullets:

  • Board marks-up FY 2016 Budget, final vote April 21
  • Collaborated with APS to fully fund Schools
  • Increasing public safety funding
  • Increasing economic development funding
  • Funding internal auditor
  • Maintaining social safety net, bike-pedestrian programs

We can understand increasing funding for public safety; after all, along with K-12 education and public health, public safety is the third of the three core functions of local government.

We growled on March 13, 2013 about the economic development challenges for Arlington county on March 13, 2013, saying, "Arlington's economic development department should develop a plan that involves ways of reducing the tax and regulatory burden for the Arlington County business community, including recommendations by which the Virginia General Assembly can partner with the County Board in those reductions." Consequently, taxpayer money spent to provide "investment dollars" for the new director's "Way Forward" plan will do little to fill-up Arlington's commercial office space.

We don't question the spending for basic safety net programs, but spending for the bike-pedestrian programs is little more than catering to another special interest.

The Board is to be congratulated, however, for supporting the County Manager's decision to close the Artisphere, a past Board vanity project that has been sucking-down taxpayer dollars for several years now.

As usual, the Board chairman took credit for approving the budget "without an increase in the (real estate) tax rate," but added that Arlington homeowners will still be burdened by increased real estate taxes, noting:

"the average Arlington homeowner will see their property taxes rise due to an increase in assessments and a 1.8 percent increase in the water-sewer rate. The average homeowner will see their tax and fee burden rise from $7,286 to $7,567 – a four percent increase. That translates to about $23 a month or $281 a year." (emphasis added)

For all growls readers who responded to our request that taxpayers write or call the Arlington County Board, we thank you. The county's press release took note of your diligence, noting:

"The Board responded to more than 1,000 comments made by the public in two public hearings, letters, emails, phone calls and comments submitted through the County website."

For all Growls readers who took the time to write or call the Board, we offer a special thank you.


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