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January 31, 2016

Americans Income Tax Bill Up 10% in 2015 vs. 2014

At the Tax Foundation's Policy Blog on Friday, Steve Greenberg writes that based on IRS data released the previous day, "Americans paid $129 billion more in income taxes in 2015 than they did in 2014." In addition, he said, "While taxpayers’ incomes grew by 6.1 percent from the year before, their overall tax bill grew by 10.0 percent."

Most importantly, he explains why taxes increased on Americans' income in 2014. According to Greenberg:

". . . It’s not because Congress changed any laws or raised taxes on anyone. And it’s not just because Americans’ incomes increased: even though Americans earned 6.1 percent more income in 2014, their income taxes rose by 10.0 percent. Rather it’s because the federal income tax is designed to increase faster than Americans’ incomes do. As Americans earn more money, they are pushed up into higher tax brackets and are less eligible for tax credits, leading to higher taxes overall.

"The fact that the federal income tax grows faster than Americans’ incomes is an important feature of the federal tax code. This phenomenon is often known as “real bracket creep”: even though federal tax brackets are adjusted every year for inflation, they are adjusted for price inflation, not the growth of incomes. Since incomes grow faster than prices, Americans on the whole move up to higher and higher tax brackets over time."

He adds some additional information about a topic that, unfortunately, receives far too little discussion in the mainstream media -- "real bracket creep:"

"Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released its projections of federal revenue for the next decade. Between 2016 and 2026, federal income tax revenues are projected to grow from 8.8 percent of GDP to 9.6 percent of GDP. And indeed, the CBO references “real bracket creep” no fewer than eleven times in the report, to explain why federal income tax revenue is expected to grow faster than the economy. (emphasis added)

"This spring, when Americans are doing their taxes, they will probably again see their tax bills go up, compared to last year. It’s not just because their incomes have increased, and it’s not because Congress made any big changes to the tax code. It’s because of real bracket creep, a structural feature of the federal income tax."

A Google News search showed the only coverage about the preliminary IRS tax data was the Tax Foundation's policy blog post cited above. You can read Scott Greenberg's entire post here.

Concerned that American individual income tax bills are too high? If so, take a few minutes, and write to one of your Congressional representatives. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Remember to ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

Kudos to the Tax Foundation for continuing their mission of improving lives through tax research and education.

January 30, 2016

Arlington County, Gondolas, and Vanity Projects

According to Washington Post reporter Patricia Sullivan on Thursday,"The Arlington County Board agreed Thursday night to kick in $35,000 to study the possibility of a Georgetown-to-Rosslyn gondola, which supporters hope will ease traffic on Key Bridge and zip visitors more easily across the Potomac River."

Sullivan continued her reporting, first quoting the new Arlington County Board chair:

“I started out really skeptical, and I’m still skeptical, but I want to have an open mind,” said board chair Libby Garvey (D), just before the unanimous vote supporting the study. “This doesn’t mean it’s a done deal by any means, but we’ll take a look at it.”

"Joe Sternlieb, president of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, told the board that an urban gondola, or “cable-propelled transit,” could be faster and far cheaper than building a new Metro tunnel to Georgetown, which lacks a subway stop.

"The proposal has been floated for the past year. In May 2015, the District government put in $35,000. Other contributions will come from Georgetown businesses, $75,000; Georgetown University $25,000; the Rosslyn business improvement district $20,000; developer JBG Associations $5,000; and developers Gould Properties/Vornado $5,000.

"The six-tenths of a mile between D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood and the Rosslyn Metro stop attracts 50,000 vehicles per day over the Key Bridge and the bridge’s sidewalks are Arlington County’s busiest. Currently, DC Circulator buses, Georgetown University and hospital buses as well as Metro and Arlington County buses congregate around the Rosslyn Metro entrances multiple times per day.

"When some board members said a gondola would benefit the District far more than Arlington, the county’s economic development director Victor Hoskins disagreed."

She also noted that "(w)hile the board members said they aren’t sure a gondola is a good idea . . . they agreed a study of it is a good idea." Read the remainder of Sullivan's report here.

An online report at the Arlington Sun Gazette yesterday afternoon pointed out two important points -- one that shows how little staff is concerned about the funds entrusted to them by Arlington County taxpayers, and the second about the concerns of the Transportation Commission:

"County Manager Mark Schwartz had recommended a $40,000 funding level, but the County Board cut it down to $35,000 to be on par with what the District of Columbia government plans to spend. The Arlington business community will be asked to chip in the additional $5,000.

"With no Metrorail station in Georgetown – and none likely for decades – getting from Rosslyn to Georgetown usually entails a drive, or walk, over Key Bridge, or a bus trip. Arlington staff say a gondola system potentially could reduce auto use and the congestion and pollution that comes with it.

"The Arlington County government’s Transportation Commission, which took up the matter in early January, voted 6-3-2 to support the expenditure of funds during a discussion that was not part of the announced meeting agenda.

“We recommend funding the study to determine whether it could move a substantial number of people in a cost-effective manner and whether it could reasonably be expected to attract ridership,” commission chairman Christopher Slatt told County Board members."

Specifically, the Transportation Commission told the County Board that it "is of multiple minds on this proposal. There is a fear that the gondola proposal does not solve a real transportation need, and many commissioners fear that even contributing to a study will provide substantive fodder for transit-naysayers." Specifically, the  report to the Board showed commissioners were concerned the gondola's primary purpose is tourism rather than transportation. Congratulations to the Transportation Commission for recognizing the importance of setting priorities.

The County Board considered the gondola study between Rosslyn and Georgetown as part of a request for the Board to approve a multiparty memorandum of agreement (Agenda Item #20 at their January 26-28, 2016 meeting).

So, in the same week that Arlington schools had to close ALL WEEK -- paying teachers and heating buildings for education not conveyed -- because of the county's inability to remove snow from Arlington streets even though the snow had stopped falling a day before the first school closure date, the Arlington County Board paid $35,000 for what looks to be another vanity boondoggle. And while the Rosslyn BID will kick-in $20,000 for the gondola study, is there any doubt the county will not find another way to funnel an "extra" $20,000 to the Rosslyn BIG in some other manner? Talk about tone-deaf bureaucrats!

Let's see. Should the county use $35,000 for a gondola study or for improved snow removal from Arlington County streets? The choice seems obvious.

For more information on how Arlington County handled snow removal after the blizzard of 2016, see our January 21 and January 27, 2016 Growls.

Growls readers who are concerned of how the Arlington County Board, and its bureaucrats, set priorities are encouraged to provide the Arlington County Board with their opinions. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

January 29, 2016

CAGW Selects 2016's First Porker of the Month

Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

For his leadership role in trying to block a permanent ban on Internet access taxes, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) selected Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) as their January 2016 Porker of the Month.

Here's the justification provided by CAGW in their press release:

"In 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) placed a moratorium on Internet access taxes. With widespread bipartisan support, the Internet tax ban has been extended seven times.  For 18 years, the ban on Internet taxes has benefited millions of Americans by empowering them to conduct transactions on the Internet free from the fear of additional tax burdens.  The deadline for expiration of the current ban is October 1, 2016.

In order to both bring more certainty to Internet transactions and the overall economy, Congress has taken steps to pass a permanent ban on Internet access taxes for the past two years.  The House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA) in both July 2014 and June 2015.  PITFA language was included in H.R. 644, The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (Customs bill), which passed the House on December 11, 2015.  The Senate is currently considering the Customs bill.

"Despite affirming that a permanent ban is “sound policy,” Sen. Durbin is attempting to block its inclusion in the Customs bill unless the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) is also passed.  Supporters of MFA claim it would bring “equity” between the taxation of tangible goods sold in brick-and-mortar stores and items sold online.  On December 15, 2015, Sen. Durbin declared, “we will oppose any long-term extension of legislation that would take away a State’s right to collect taxes on accessing the Internet unless we give States the ability to collect taxes on Internet sales that are already owed.”

"Besides the obvious fact that PITFA reduces and prevents taxation while MFA would cause taxes to increase, Sen. Durbin apparently forgot that a solution already exists to collect taxes for online sales.  Forty-five states have “use taxes” on their books requiring individuals to remit the amount of the taxes they should have been charged to purchase items online.  So, in essence, Sen. Durbin is holding PITFA hostage to a non-issue.

"CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “Making the Internet tax ban permanent is critical for the long-term health of the economy.  For the first time since the ban was instituted in 1998, PITFA would provide a much higher degree of certainty to individuals and business conducting transactions over the Internet.  Sen. Durbin’s ill-fated efforts to block this vital legislation are shortsighted and unfounded.”

If you are concerned about taxation by the federal government, take a few minutes to write one of your Congressional representatives. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Remember to ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

If you're not familiar with Citizens Against Government Waste, CAGW "is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government."

January 27, 2016

Snow Removal in a World-Class Community

So Arlington County now has a "snow & ice" emergency page, which includes such information on which "streets or trails get cleared first" and "when plowing starts."

With that said, it's was disconcerting to read in this morning's online Arlington Sun Gazette that the Arlington County Manager "seems lukewarm on snow-removal ordinance."  As reported by the Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey:

"Arlington’s new county manager appears to want a fresh look at Arlington’s five-year-old snow-clearing ordinance.

"Mark Schwartz told County Board members on Jan. 26 he has misgivings about the policy, which was put into place following the unforgettable winter of 2009-10.

"Later in 2010, County Board members – prodded by the Arlington County Civic Federation – enacted an ordinance requiring all property owners to clear snow from sidewalks within 24 to 36 hours of the end of a winter event, depending on the size of the snowfall.

"Those who don’t comply are subject to fines.

"Schwartz, who suspended enforcement of the ordinance in the aftermath of the Jan. 22-23 storm, wondered aloud about the need for it. “I just don’t know if it’s really practical,” he said.

"(It may not even be legal, since the authority of the county government to require private-property owners to shovel what is for the most part public property remains an unlitigated, and thus, unanswered question.)

McCaffrey closed his reporting, writing:

"While some residents had their hackles up about response times for relief of snow-clogged neighborhood streets, others were taking a more mellow view. Among them was County Board member John Vihstadt, whose Tara-Leeway neighborhood had yet to see a plow three days after the flakes stopped falling.

“We’re all experiencing these inconveniences,” said Vihstadt, who quipped he served as proof that “our crews are not playing favorites” by digging out elected officials first."

Additional news about Arlington County's snow removal efforts is available at ARLnow.com, the online news website. Here's a portion of their reporting from 3:30 PM this afternoon:

"Arlington County and other D.C. area jurisdictions simply do not have the resources to clean up quickly from a monster snowstorm like this past weekend’s blizzard, officials told the County Board yesterday afternoon.

“We do not pretend to have the equipment and staff to handle this kind of record storm,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “It takes time. We don’t spend to the level of equipment or staffing, nor do our sister jurisdictions, to rebound as quickly as we would like when a record event happens.”

"Schwartz said snow removal crews — both county employees and contractors — have been working around the clock in 12-hour shifts, operating all the heavy equipment the county has to muster, to try to massive amounts of snow from local roads.

"Snow piled in front of a stop sign during the January 2016 blizzard (photo via Arlington County)“They’re all pretty exhausted, but they’re committed to doing their jobs,” said Schwartz. “They’re been working flat out as hard as they can.”

"Both Schwartz and Greg Emanuel, head of the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services, acknowledged that the county had been receiving a high volume of complaints from residents about the slow pace of snow removal on certain residential streets. Complaints have been flooding in via email, online form submissions and phone calls, Emanuel said, and county staffers were doing their best to “triage” the feedback."

Commenter "jna" responded to the Sun Gazette story, saying: "County's suburban streets are still a mess as of 8 AM on January 27th."

Admittedly, this weekend's snowstorm ranked among the top three or four all-time snow storms of all time, but when you tout yourself as a world-class community, citizens have a right to have higher expectations. More importantly, the county bureaucrats always seem to go for the mega-project that we don't need rather than the boring, cheaper work that we pay them for. While we have transportation planners, they seemingly are always occupied with planning for trolley systems, designing $1 million bus stops, etc. Consequently, there's no time to plan making the roads usable after a trace of snow.

Arlington County needs transportation continuity planning, and not transportation mega-project planning, even if the latter looks good on bureaucrat's resume.

See last Thursday's Growls in which we growled about the 1 inch snow that snarled traffic. For snowfall totals from this past weekend's snowstorm, see this CBS News story.

Growls readers who are Arlington County taxpayers are encouraged to provide the Arlington County Board with their opinions on how the County handles snow removal from Arlington streets and roadways. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

January 21, 2016

You mean snow removal isn't in all those transportation plans?

Local TV's Fox 5 DC billed it as Carmageddon 2.0, calling it "DC's ride home from hell in 1 inch of snow." According to Fox 5 DC:

"Wednesday’s snowfall -- which officially was recorded at under an inch at area airports -- left some drivers around the D.C. area stuck in traffic for hours. Some commuters were still on the road Thursday morning -- not even making it home from Wednesday night's commute."

Even ARLnow.com quipped this morning, "It’s crazy what one inch of snow can do to unsalted roads. Hundreds of drivers slid, stopped and slammed into each other across  area roads last night and early this morning. Multiple commuters told us it took hours to get home."

Consequently, it wasn't surprising to read in this morning's Arlington Sun Gazette report that "Arlington officials work to spread blame around on road mess." According to the Sun Gazette:

"Arlington government officials pointed fingers at weather forecasters (who were pointing right back), drivers and the Virginia Department of Transportation in explaining why local roadways turned into parking lots across the region the evening of Jan. 20.

“Based on weather predictions, we, and the entire region, underestimated the amount of yesterday’s snow, and the ice that came with it,” Arlington officials said in a statement put out the morning of Jan. 21.

“Our crews began pre-treating some streets with brine, in anticipation of tomorrow’s expected blizzard,” officials said. “They did not get to all of them before the snow began to fall, and it is not clear that the brine helped, due to the very cold roadways, heavy traffic and heavier-than-expected snow. Across the region, crews were caught by surprise.”

“Our crews switched to salt, but many of the main roads owned and maintained by VDOT, as well as  our neighborhood streets – and streets across the region — became slick and treacherous,” officials said. “Traffic jams on main streets made it difficult for crews to work.

"Less than an inch of snow fell in the Arlington area on Jan. 20, compared to an estimate eight to 20 inches of snow expected over the weekend.

“We will continue to work on the roads today, and through the coming snow event,” Arlington officials promised."

One would think that a few of the hundreds, or even millions, of tax dollars that county officials have spent for transportation planning would have been spent on thinking how best to remove snow from Arlington County's streets and roads. Shouldn't snow removal be on the agenda of next month's Transportation Commission meeting? If not, it should! And if it's buried in one or more transportation plans, that would be even worse since it's obvious county bureaucrats ignored that specific planning advice.

Arlington County's press release describing "Wednesday's Snow Event in Arlington" is available here. The first sentence includes the admission that county officials "underestimated the amount of yesterday’s snow, and the ice that came with it." It's unlikely you'll see such an admission in many moons.

Growls readers who are Arlington County taxpayers are encouraged to provide the Arlington County Board with their opinions on how the County handles snow removal from Arlington streets and roadways. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

Note: Given the possibility of a historic blizzard starting tomorrow afternoon -- see this ARLnow.com story -- there will be little if any growling until the middle of next week.

January 19, 2016

Ballooning Deficits? Thank Bipartisanship!

In an editorial published this evening, the editors of Investor's Business Daily write:

"Bipartisanship: The federal deficit will swell another 20% this year to $544 billion. And the reason for unexpected flood of red ink? The budget deal that President Obama and Republican congressional leaders cobbled together.

"Hate to say we told you so, but the budget deal was a disgraceful conglomeration of spending increases for pet programs and Obama executive orders, plus tax giveaways to industries such as Big Solar. Washington's K Street loved the final product.

"It was more generous than even many industry flacks had hoped.

"But the Republican attitude was "Anything to keep the government from shutting down." So they gave in to nearly every Obama spending demand — from sanctuary cities and refugee resettlement to climate change payoffs for corrupt foreign governments and funding for Planned Parenthood.

"Oh, and there was zero progress in tackling the runaway train of entitlements, which will rise 7%, thanks to ObamaCare.

"Slower-than-expected economic growth also lifted estimates of the shortfall. It's a truism that you can't balance the budget with anemic growth, and we've had that now for almost a decade.

"Interest payments on the debt will be up too, by about 11%, at a time when borrowing costs are at a record low . . . ."

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) writes in the Summary of the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2016 to 2026, released today:

"Solid economic growth is expected this year and next, but CBO projects that the deficit this year will increase, relative to the size of the economy, for the first time since 2009.'

Also from the CBO Summary:

"The 2016 deficit that CBO currently projects is $130 billion higher than the one that the agency pro- jected in August 2015.2 That increase is largely attribut- able to legislation enacted since August—in particular, the retroactive extension of a number of provisions that reduce corporate and individual income taxes.

"The deficit projected by CBO would increase debt held by the public to 76 percent of GDP by the end of 2016, the agency estimates—about 2 percentage points higher than it was last year and higher than it has been since the years immediately following World War II (see Summary Figure 1).

The non-profit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget provides the following bullet points in their analysis posted this evening:

  • The deficit will grow from $439 billion (2.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product) in 2015 – the lowest levels since 2007 – to $544 billion (2.9 percent of GDP) in 2016.
  • By 2026, deficits will double as a share of GDP to 4.9 percent and more than triple in dollar terms to $1.37 trillion.
  • CBO projects debt will rise by $10.7 trillion between 2015 and 2026, from $13.1 trillion (73.6 percent of GDP) to $23.8 trillion (86.1 percent of GDP). Previously, CBO projected debt rising to $21 trillion (77 percent of GDP) by 2025.
  • These projections are significantly worse than previous projections, with deficits $130 billion higher in 2016 and $1.55 trillion higher through 2025.
  • About half of the deterioration in the fiscal outlook is from legislative changes, mainly December’s unpaid-for tax extenders and omnibus legislation.
  • Although fiscal irresponsibility has worsened the budget outlook, the long-term driver of rising debt remains the rapid growth of entitlement spending and interest on the debt. CBO projects spending to rise by $2.5 trillion between 2016 and 2026, with almost half of that increase from Social Security and Medicare and nearly one quarter from interest.
  • The budget outlook could be even worse than projected if lawmakers continue to pass legislation without truly offsetting its costs. For example, if lawmakers fully repeal (and don’t offset) future “sequester” cuts, continue various temporary tax breaks, and repeal the Affordable Care Act taxes delayed last December, debt would rise well beyond the projected $23.8 trillion (86 percent of GDP) by 2026, to $25.2 trillion (91 percent of GDP) in that year.

To show just how stark the CBO budget numbers are, the Committee for a Responsible Budget provides the following chart:

Concerned that Congress is not taking the steps needed to fight the ballooning deficits? If so, take a few minutes, and write to one of your Congressional representatives. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:
  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Remember to ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

UPDATE (1/22/16): The following is how the Washington Examiner starts out an editorial Wednesday on the new CBO outlook:

"The new budget outlook published by the Congressional Budget Office contains disturbing news about federal deficits. Even given the questionable assumption that the economy will grow faster this year than last, Uncle Sam is now projected to spend $544 billion more than he takes in during fiscal 2016.

"That's up a lot from last year's $439 billion, and on its way to more than $1 trillion a year by 2022, the CBO warns.

"This is not due entirely to more spending or the economy's lugubriously slow growth, which depresses tax revenues. It's driven partly by recent tax changes. Congress made several tax breaks permanent that had technically been temporary but were repeatedly renewed and so, effectively, permanent already.

"This change in accounting has freed the non-partisan CBO to tell the truth, as it had not been for many years. And the truth is ugly. The new figure puts the lie to oft-heard claims from Obama and his acolytes about rapidly shrinking deficits since 2009."

January 18, 2016

A Thought about Federalism

"[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore...never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market."

~ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Judge William Johnson, 1823

Source: Founders' Quote Database, The Patriot Post.

January 17, 2016

New Excuse for 'Pause' in Global Warming

At Breitbart News' Big Government website on Friday, James Delingpole reports that climate alarmists have invented a new excuse to explain why there has been no "global warming" for almost 19 years. According to Delingpole:

"The climate alarmists have come up with a brilliant new excuse to explain why there has been no “global warming” for nearly 19 years.

"Turns out the satellite data is lying.

"And to prove it they’ve come up with a glossy new video starring such entirely trustworthy and not at all biased climate experts as Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann , Kevin “Travesty” Trenberth and Ben Santer. (All of these paragons of scientific rectitude feature heavily in the Climategate emails)

"The video is well produced and cleverly constructed – designed to look measured and reasonable rather than yet another shoddy hit job in the ongoing climate wars.

"Sundry “experts”, adopting a tone of “more in sorrow than anger” gently express their reservations about the reliability of the satellite data which, right up until the release of this video, has generally been accepted as the most accurate gauge of global temperatures.

"This accuracy was acknowledged 25 years ago by NASA, which said that “satellite analysis of the upper atmosphere is more accurate, and should be adopted as the standard way to monitor temperature change.”

"More recently, though, climate alarmists have grown increasingly resentful of the satellite temperature record because of its pesky refusal to show the warming trend they’d like it to show. Instead of warming, the RSS and UAH satellite data shows that the earth’s temperatures have remained flat for over 18 years – the so-called 'Pause.'” (links in the original)

Which explains their "preference for the land- and sea-based temperature datasets."

Delingpole goes on to explain:

"Given the embarrassment the satellite data has been causing alarmists in recent years – most recently at the Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) "Data or Dogma” hearing last December – it was almost inevitable that sooner or later they would try to discredit it. (use link at original to view the Congressional hearing at JunkScience.com)

"In the video, the line taken by the alarmists is that the satellite records too have been subject to dishonest adjustments and that the satellites have given a misleading impression of global temperature because of the way their orbital position changes over time."

He then discusses the following graph provided by Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, who testified at the 'Data or Dogma' hearing. The graph shows the average of 102 computer model runs as compared to the balloon and satellite datasets:

We've growled about global warming from time to time, including October 11, 2015 where we discussed how the Sierra Club "got schooled" on global warming, December 1, 2015 and December 11, 2015. For other Growls about global warming, use the search facility in the lower right-hand column.

Concerned that Congress is overly influenced by climate alarmists? f so, take a few minutes, and write to one of your Congressional representatives. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Remember to ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

January 16, 2016

Average Arlington County Home Tops $600,000

Patricia Sullivan, reporting in today's Washington Post, writes, "The value of an average residence in Arlington County has topped $600,000 . . . up by 2.8 percent in the last year alone," rising "from $587,100 to $603,500 by the end of 2015."

Sulivan makes the following points, but note especially the first paragraph:

"Rising property values mean owners may get higher prices when they sell, but it can also mean higher property taxes, even if the tax rate does not increase. The County Board sets the tax rate in April; it is currently $0.996 per $100 of assessed value. If the tax rate is not increased, the average residential property tax bill in Arlington could be $6,011. (emphasis added)

"The county, which has struggled with higher than normal commercial vacancies in the past several years, said its existing commercial tax base — offices, apartments, hotels and retail buildings — saw values rise by 1.3 percent.

"But most of that increase came from apartment buildings, which increased in value by almost 5 percent. General commercial property, which covers retail, dropped 3.5 percent. Existing offices had property values rise 2.2 percent, the county said."

What a concept? Due solely to a rise in real estate values, and not because of any increase in the quantity or quality of county services, the Arlington County Board is enable to impose a tax of approximately $164 on the average Arlington County homeowner.

Scroll down, or just click-on yesterday's Growls to read the Jean Baptiste Colbert quotation about the art of taxation. And then take a minute to write to the Arlington County Board.

January 15, 2016

2016 Property Values & A Thought on the Art of Taxation

According to an Arlington County press release today, we learn, "Arlington County real estate assessments for 2016 show an overall increase in property values of 2.8 percent over 2015. Residential and commercial property values increased slightly." The release, entitled, "Arlington 2016 Property Values Increase Modestly," featured the following four bullets:

  • Overall increase of 2.8%
  • Average residential property up 2.8%, to $603,500
  • Commercial values slightly positive
  • Assessments available online 11 p.m. tonight

The press release, which contains updated information about the FY 2017 budget outlook, reminds us of the following quotation about government:

"The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.

~  Jean Baptiste Colbert (attributed)

Source: page 97, "As Certain as Death: Quotations About Taxes," 2010, compiled by Jeffrey L. Yablon, TaxAnalysts.com.

Growls readers who are Arlington County taxpayers are encouraged to provide the Arlington County Board their thoughts on the County's revenues and expenditures. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

January 14, 2016

Arlington County Board Getting Priorities in Order?

ARLnow.com reported this morning on the "pace of road paving in Arlington has tripled in five years," and includes a short, county-produced video. According to ARLnow.com:

"The pace of road paving in Arlington has more than tripled in the past five years, according to newly-released stats.

"A new county-produced video (above) states that Arlington paved 91 lane miles of roadway in 2015. That’s up from 25 lane miles paved in 2009 and 30 lane miles paved in 2010.

"Arlington County made “significant investments in road paving in 2015,” the video says, calling it “a banner year for roadwork.” The total cost of the paving program last year: $13 million.

"The previously lethargic pace of road paving, combined with a number of unusually harsh winters, led to complaints from residents that Arlington’s roads were in poor shape, especially for a county that prides itself on providing a high level of government services.

"Arlington County road crewIn 2012, Arlington’s average Pavement Condition Index grade — a measure of road quality from a scale of 1 to 100 — was only 68.9."

We've growled at least twice over the years regarding the paving of county's roads, including March 24, 2006 and more directly on May 31, 2012, when we addressed several of the issues discussed in today's ARLnow.com article.

The Arlington County Civic Federation's Revenues & Expenditures Committee was concerned enough about the state of street paving that they recommended adding $2.6 million to the budget to accelerate street repaving, according to the committee's report on the County Manager's FY 2013 Proposed Budget.

It's good to know the Arlington County Board is addressing "nuts-and-bolts" priorities that affect Arlington County taxpayers each and every day rather than focusing on the vanity projects of Board members' special interests.

Growls readers who are Arlington County taxpayers are encouraged to provide the Arlington County Board their thoughts on the Board's street paving priorities. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

January 13, 2016

Spending per Household Expected to Rise to $47,000 by 2024

The Heritage Foundation introduces their 2015 Budget Book by saying:

"In addressing the challenges facing Congress in 2015, Jim DeMint, President of The Heritage Foundation, noted that “Americans expect more from their leaders than just tapping the brakes as we drive off a fiscal cliff.” Indeed.

"The 114th Congress has an opportunity and obligation to stop Washington’s taxpayer-financed spending spree. Over the past 20 years, spending has grown 63 percent faster than inflation. Unless leaders emerge with the courage to change the nation’s course for the better, the future looks like more of the same as total annual spending will grow from $3.5 trillion in 2014 to $5.8 trillion in 2024.

"Congress is financing the profligate spending by increasing taxes and incurring stunning amounts of debt. In 2014, Congress borrowed 14 cents of every dollar it spent, totaling a half a trillion dollars. Even more alarming, the country just surpassed $18 trillion in cumulative national debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the country is projected to borrow another $9.6 trillion over the next 10 years."

The following chart is one of eight from Heritage's 2015 Budget Book shows how Federal spending is projected to rise from nearly $29,000 per household in 2014 to rise to more than $47,000 per household in 10 years.


We growled about another chart in the series on August 31, 2015. Take a few minutes to browse all eight of the Heritage Foundation's budget charts here.

Concerned about the level of federal spending? f so, take a few minutes, and write to one of your Congressional representatives. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Remember to ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

January 12, 2016

A Thought About Taxation

"If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds. This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them."

~ Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21, 1787

Source: Founders' Quote Database, The Patriot Post.

January 11, 2016

A Thought on 'Soaking the Rich'

"I never met a poor person who wanted to soak the rich; they want to get rich."

~ Jack Kemp

Source: BrainyQuote.com.

January 10, 2016

Is Advertising on School Buses a Way to Help Fill Budgets?

An article last Friday, by Scott McCaffrey in the online Arlington Sun Gazette, asks whether advertising on school buses is a "way  to budget woes?" According to McCaffrey:

"It seems a longshot, but legislation to be considered in the 2016 General Assembly session would pave the way for it to happen.

"Del. Israel O’Quinn (R-Bristol) is patroning a measure that would permit local School Boards to accept advertising for the exterior of their buses, much as transit agencies (like the Metro system) use ads as a revenue-generating device.

"The measure, which has been referred to the House Committee on Education, would prohibit the advertisement of products related to alcohol, tobacco or gambling.

"Arlington’s school administration was mum on offering a view of the bill, but at least one School Board member says it is worth a look.

"Board member James Lander isn’t necessarily in favor of advertising, but does like the idea of localities – rather than the state government – having the final say.

“I don’t see a problem with local control,” Lander said. “I think local jurisdictions should make that decision.”

The proposed legislation is HB 306. Delegate Del. O'Quinn (R) represents the 5th District, which includes Grayson County and the cities of Bristol and Galax. The Education Committee meets Monday and Wednesday mornings. Members include Delegates Lingamfelter, Rust and LeMunyon.

Growls readers are encouraged to provide the Arlington County Board their thoughts on the appropriateness of advertising on public school buses in Arlington County. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the Arlington School Board office at (703) 228-6015

And tell them ACTA sent you.

January 09, 2016

Minimum Wage Hikes and their Consequences

In their class warfare campaigns, the two leading Democratic candidates for President both feature increases in the minimum wage, according to a story yesterday by Ken Walsh in U.S. News & World Report. Unfortunately, there is usually little consideration given to how such increases will affect entry-level jobs, making it harder to begin the climb out of poverty.

But we now have recent examples of how minimum wage hikes in six large cities affect hiring. At Investor's Business Daily, Jed Graham reported last Wednesday:

"U.S. cities that implemented big minimum-wage hikes to $10 an hour or more in 2015 have seen a strikingly similar aftermath: Job gains have fallen to multi-year lows at restaurants, hotels and other leisure and hospitality venues.

"The data aren't, for the most part, stark and reliable enough to amount to smoking-gun proof.

"But Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — all on the leading edge of the push for big minimum wage hikes — all show worrisome job trends."

Graham then goes on to describe how minimum wage hikes are impacting employment in six big cities as well as how such wage hikes will impact employment "in the ObamaCare era." Here is how he describes the link between jobs and minimum wage increases in Washington, D.C.:

"The strongest evidence comes from the nation's capital, where leisure and hospitality employment, which rose at least 3% annually over the prior four years, fell an average of 1% from a year ago in the three months through November. So instead of adding 2,000 or more jobs per year, restaurants, hotels and the rest of the leisure and hospitality sector have lost about 700 jobs.

"The timing coincides with the $1 minimum-wage hike to $10.50 an hour last July. That jump followed a boost from $8.25 to $9.50 an hour that took effect in mid-2014. Another jump to $11.50 is set for this July.

"The D.C. data are key because they reveal outright job losses confined to the city limits. Researchers studying the latest round of citywide minimum-wage hikes generally have had to rely on data for a big chunk of the broader metropolitan area, making the analysis more speculative. More reliable data through 2015 will be available in June via the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

"Still, the available data provide plenty of reason to be wary of the big minimum wage hikes in the pipeline, as well as the push for a national minimum wage of $12 an hour by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and the fight for a $15 wage by the further left."

Read how the minimum wage increases in Chicago, Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Seattle affect hiring here.

For past Growls about the minimum wage, use the search facility in the lower right corner.

One other point. Liberals often suggest any harmful effects from reducing the minimum wage can be reduced by spreading out the increase over three or more years. Well, if the increases are such a good thing, why delay their beneficial effects over several years? Or are there really not any economic benefits after all?

January 08, 2016

A Thought on Taxation

"In a general sense, all contributions imposed by the government upon individuals for the service of the state, are called taxes, by whatever name they may be known, whether by the name of tribute, tythe, tallage, impost, duty, gabel, custom, subsidy, aid, supply, excise, or other name."

~ Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Source: Founders' Quote Database, The Patriots Post.

Joseph Story was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court from 1812 to 1845, according to HistoryNet.

January 07, 2016

Legislation Would Impact Arlington County's Living Wage

An online story posted this morning at the Arlington Sun Gazette reports, "Legislation percolating in Richmond would effectively gut efforts by Arlington and a number of other localities across the commonwealth requiring government contractors to provide what advocates call a “living wage.”

The story goes on to report:

"A bill introduced by Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) would prohibit the commonwealth’s counties, cities and towns from imposing a living-wage requirement on contractors after Jan. 1, 2017.

"Such a measure, if passed, would impact the Arlington government, whose contractors are required to pay employees at least $13.13 per hour (81 percent higher than the minimum wage) under certain conditions.

"Arlington’s living-wage ordinance has been in place for years, but has been opposed by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. In its 2016 public-policy statement, the Chamber reiterates its opposition to government efforts to “coerce” businesses to provide wages levels, benefits or working conditions outside applicable federal and state labor law.

"Whether local governments even have the authority to impose living-wage requirements on contracts in Virginia is an open question. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2007 applied a living-wage standard to its own workforce, but determined that it “cannot legally mandate a living wage for vendors and other employers.”

"Davis’s measure, if enacted, would grandfather in existing contracts, even if they renew in 2017 or later, and would allow local governments to require that businesses receiving economic-development incentives provide specific wage levels.

"The bill would have no effect on localities, like Arlington, that also use living-wage ordinances to set minimum pay for their own government workforce."

You can read the remainder of the story, which discusses living wage computations made by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) here.

The legislation, HB 264, was the first bill patroned by Del. Glenn Davis in the 2016 General Assembly session. Here's the bill's summary, according to the General Assembly's Legislative Information System:

"Prohibiting certain local government practices that would require contractors to provide certain compensation or benefits. Prohibits local governing bodies from establishing provisions related to procurement of goods, professional services, or construction services that would require a wage floor or any other employee benefit or compensation above what is otherwise required by state or federal law to be provided by a contractor to one or more of the contractor's employees as part of a contract with the locality. The prohibition shall not affect contracts between a locality and another party that were executed prior to January 1, 2017, or the renewal or future rebids of services thereof. Also, localities shall not be prohibited from entering into contracts for economic development incentives in which the company receiving the incentives is required to maintain a certain stated wage level for its employees." (highlighting in the original)

The bill is currently co-patroned by Senators Richard Stuart (R-Montross) and Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach).

What are the consequences of a "living wage?" In a July 2010 op-ed in the Baltimore Business Journal, Michael Saltsman, who is identified as the research director for the Employment Policy Institute (EPI) at Wikipedia, writes:

"Despite the damage done to businesses already in the city of Baltimore, a living wage mandate also kills jobs by erecting a big red “Keep Out” sign for larger retailers looking to locate inside city limits. Given the chance to pay $7.25 an hour to entry-level employees in the county, or over $3 more in the city, it’s far more attractive to put down roots just outside that city line. Jobs and tax dollars will both flee the city for the friendlier confines of Baltimore County.

"Chicago’s Democratic mayor, Richard Daley, understood this. A few years back, the Chicago City Council passed similar living wage legislation, and Daley promptly vetoed it (his first veto after 17 years in office). Why would a business open in a locale that imposes unnecessary costs upon them?"

In an op-ed about the lower minimum wage for Forbes magazine, dated November 26, 2014, Mike Patton concludes:

"Even though it’s true that raising the minimum wage would result in more money for those who receive it, because it is so low (hence the word minimum), it would have very little effect on the U.S. economy. Therefore, I think this is more about class envy than anything else. And, like so many arguments today, you can’t overlook the political component. (emphasis in the original)

"Despite efforts to the contrary, America is still the “Land of Opportunity” for those who will roll up their sleeves and work hard to obtain the necessary skills for a higher paying position. A minimum wage job, after all, should never be the end game. Rather it should be a beginning step in the career path for those inclined to improve their circumstances. Unfortunately, we have a country filled with individuals who are satisfied with a welfare check, but who are fully capable of working and becoming a productive member of society. If government really wants to help our economy, it’ll focus on getting people off of entitlements and back to work. How long will it take before the electorate starts to figure out that the game played by many elected officials is not intended to boost the economy, but rather to garner votes. How long?"

The Cato Institute has a concise 1-page presentation of four reasons for not raising the minimum wage.

A so-called 'living wage,' according to Investopedia, is defined as, "A theoretical wage level that allows the earner to afford adequate shelter, food and the other necessities of life. The living wage should be substantial enough to ensure that no more than 30% of it needs to be spent on housing. The goal of the living wage is to allow employees to earn enough income for a satisfactory standard of living." However, you can think of it as the minimum wage on steroids.

This is not the first year that Delegate Davis has sponsored The February 19, 2015 Augusta Free Press reported on the floor debate that focused on his HB 1608 legislation.

Arlington County has a living wage policy, and currently mandates a living wage of $13.13 per hour, and applies to service contracts with an estimated annual value greater than $100,000. It is defined in Article 4-103 of the Arlington County Purchasing Resolution. Further details can be found here.

We will growl more about Del. Davis' HB 264 in the coming days. However, we wanted to alert Arlington County taxpayers about the context for Del. Davis' legislation.

January 06, 2016

The Federal Budget: A CBO Infographic

The federal budget infographic below was posted today by the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Leigh Angres and Maureen Costantino. According to CBO:

"For people who are not very familiar with the federal budget, it can be a challenge to find out how much the government spends and takes in each year and what programs and revenue sources account for the largest portions of those budgetary flows. With the start of a new session of Congress, we thought it would be a good time to update our budget infographics, which offer a detailed look back at fiscal year 2015 as well as broader trends over the past few decades. You can view the four infographics below—the first focused on the overall budget and the others on its components."

We hope the following infographic on the federal budget and historical views on both the deficit and the debt proves helpful to visitors to Growls:

Three additional budget infographics are available for 2015: 1) mandatory spending; 2) discretionary spending; and, 3) revenues. Kudos to the CBO for publishing such helpful infographics to disseminate information about the federal budget.

January 05, 2016

A Thought on the Economic Knowledge of Politicians

"Any business person who does not understand the laws of supply and demand will soon go bankrupt. It is only the political class who fails to (or wishes not to) understand this basic economic concept, particularly when it comes to tax rates. Politicians get away with destructive tax policies because they know that many voters are grossly ignorant when it comes to basic economics."

~ Richard H. Rahn, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

Source: his 1/5/16 column, "Tax follies for 2016," The Washington Times.

January 04, 2016

A Thought on Taxation

"Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through so many new hands."

~ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 1784

Source; Founders' Quote Database, The Patriots Post.

January 03, 2016

A Thought About the Political Elite

"Those gentlemen, who will be elected senators, will fix themselves in the federal town, and become citizens of that town more than of your state."

~ George Mason, Speech, Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788

Source: Founders' Quote Database, The Patriot Post.

January 02, 2016

Tax Rates Soar, Revenue Drops, for Top 400 Taxpayers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its annual update of "information from the 400 individual income tax returns with the highest adjusted gross incomes (AGIs), for years 1992 through 2013" last week. The IRS says it's "important to note that the group of taxpayers whose returns are among those with the highest AGIs changes from year to year." The update contains four mostly large tables. (HT Tax Foundation and Tax Prof Blog)

The Tax Foundation's president, Scott Hodge, reports on the 'Fortunate 400' taxpayers at the Tax Foundation's Tax Policy Blog last Thursday. According to Hodge (links in the original):

"The IRS has released an update of its annual breakdown of the 400 largest tax returns for 2013. The initial media reporting has highlighted the increase in the average tax rate paid by these “Fortunate 400” from 16.7 percent in 2102 to 22.9 percent in 2013, which prompted the Washington Post’s Wonkblog to declare “Really rich people are suddenly paying quite a bit more in taxes,” as a result of the fiscal cliff tax deal signed by President Obama at the end of 2012.

"But the story is not as simple as that. While the richest 400 taxpayers did pay $1.9 billion more in taxes in 2013 than they did the prior year, they did so while reporting dramatically lower incomes compared to 2012 . . . ."

Hodge provides a helpful table that shows the major sources of income for the 400 tax returns, and how the amounts of each source change from 2011 to 2012 and 2013. Note that from 2012 t0 2013, taxable income decreased 23%; income taxes paid increased 8%; and, the average tax rate soared 37%. So much for the 'bright light' liberals and their 'fair share' mantra.

At the Wall Street Journal on Thursday (behind the WSJ's paywall), Josh Zumbrun also reported on the 400 individual tax returns reporting the largest adjusted gross incomes. According to Zumbrun:

"Tax rates on the 400 wealthiest Americans in 2013 rose to their highest average since the 1990s, after policy changes that boosted levies on capital gains and dividends.

"The households, whose names aren’t revealed, earned 1.2% of all adjusted gross income in 2013 and paid nearly 2% of all income taxes, according to data released Wednesday by the Internal Revenue Service. Their average payment of $60.8 million in income taxes on earnings of $265 million brought their average tax rate up to 22.9% that year, up from 16.7% in 2012, which had been near the lowest rate going back to 1992.

"Over the years, these taxpayers have devised strategies to collect more of their income as capital gains—profits from the sale of property or an investment—and dividends. Tax cuts signed by President George W. Bush reduced the tax rate on capital gains to 15% starting in 2003.

"But at the start of 2013, the top rate for capital gains rose to 23.8% as part of budget negotiations between Congress and the White House over how to close the nation’s deficit. Anticipating the change, many of the highest earners sold assets before the deadline to avoid higher taxes, leading to a huge surge in income in late 2012."

Zumbrun also reported the "top 400 households claimed more than 6% of all charitable tax deductions in 2013, deducting an average $32.8 million worth of donations, down from $38.7 million in 2012." Apparently, liberals don't understand the concept of unintended consequences either.

A HT, too, to Paul Caron, editor of the Tax Prof Blog, for his post, which includes links to additional reporting as well as the charts from the WSJ article.

As noted above, the IRS update includes four tables. Table 4 is especially interesting since it shows the frequency that taxpayers appeared in the top 400 over the period 1992 to 2013. The IRS reports there were 4,474 'unique taxpayers' during the 22 years. According to the IRS, 3,213 taxpayers appeared only once, another 535 taxpayers appeared twice, and only 129 'fortunate' taxpayers were fortunate to appear among the top 400 wealthiest taxpayers in 10 or more years. Looks like the Occupy Wall Street protesters will have to adjust their narrative about the 1%.

In regards to the above point about charitable giving, Andrew Blackman, in an article for the the Wall Street Journal last month discussed "the surprising relationship between taxes and charitable giving."

January 01, 2016

Will Arlington County Board be "Less Liberal" in 2016?

Patricia Sullivan of the Washington Post reports on today's so-called organizational meeting of the Arlington County Board in a story posted earlier today.

Here is how she began her reporting:

"The Arlington County Board, in its first 2016 meeting and with two newly elected members, signaled that its priorities in the famously progressive community may turn toward the right as new Chairman Libby Garvey set better customer service in zoning and permitting as her top goal.

"Garvey (D), who spent most of her first term marginalized by a board that was more liberal, called the system of getting permits and zoning changes “so Byzantine that even employees don’t always understand it. As a board member, I also hear from large builders who find our processes frustrating and expensive. Private homeowners can find themselves totally lost.”

"The other four board members agreed in general with that goal in their addresses before a full chamber of School Board members, other elected officials and civic activists and advocates, who gathered Friday for the panel’s traditional New Year’s Day organizational session. The chairmanship rotates annually among the board members, and Garvey was elected unanimously, as is customary.

"Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz said improvements in the building-permit process are underway and all permits will be able to be filed and reviewed electronically in February.

"Garvey warned that local government should not “overstep our role and risk stifling innovation,” particularly in regulations such as the sign ordinance, which took more than a year to revise. “Part of the charm of Arlington,” she said, “. . . is how not standard everything is.”

"Garvey and her board ally John Vihstadt (I) won a major battle just over a year ago when the panel voted to cancel the long-planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar projects.

"Vihstadt, a Republican who won election in 2014 as an independent, urged more accountability and transparency in local government. He called for a small-business summit this year and urged the board to “scrub” the budget.

"In a county budget now climbing over $1.3 billion a year and with over 3,000 public employees, surely we can find programs and projects to reduce, recalibrate, eliminate or defer while ensuring that our schools, public safety, infrastructure maintenance and other essential services are protected,” he said. “Tax rates and tax burdens do matter.”

The remainder of Sullivan's report is well-worth reading since she reports on comments by the other Board members, and especially those of Jay Fisstte (D), who she says may provide, "(t)he strongest resistance to that more-conservative trend."

We are happy to growl about the good news -- at least one month before the County Manager proposes the FY 2017 budget -- that at least some Board members appreciate the tax and regulatory burdens borne by Arlington County taxpayers.  In our December 9, 2015 Growls, we noted recent County Board sparring over the allocation of "excess funds in closing-out the 2015 fiscal year," as well as the profligate ways of the Arlington County Board. The Growls also contains a letter to the editor of the Arlington Sun Gazette, which appeared in the Sun Gazette's December 10-16 issue, which you can read here.

The Arlington Sun Gazette's report on today's County Board organizational meeting is here.

Each Board Member's remarks at today's organizational meeting are here.

Growls readers who are Arlington County taxpayers are encouraged to provide the Arlington County Board their thoughts on the Board's priorities and profligate ways, and especially debt service. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.