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Arlington County Manager Proposes 2 Cents Tax Increase

ARLnow.com has an updated version of their report of the Arlington County Manager's presentation today of his proposed FY 2018 budget to the Arlington County Board. Their lede said, "A new $1.2 billion budget proposed by Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz would boost core services — road paving, streetlight maintenance, public safety, schools and Metro — while raising property taxes to the highest rate since 2001."

Here's the essence of ARLnow.com's report:

"Spending under Schwartz’s proposal — drafted with guidance from the County Board — would increase 4.3 percent, while the tax rate would increase by two cents, from $0.991 to $1.011 for every $100 in assessed. That would be Arlington’s highest property tax rate since 2001, when it was $1.023.

"The rate increase would come on top of rising property assessments — up 2.9 percent this year. The total tax and fee burden on the average Arlington homeowner would rise by $308 to $8,613 under Schwartz’s proposal, which will now be considered by the County Board after a series of work sessions and public hearings. That’s up from $7,745 three years ago, in 2014.

"Final adoption of the new budget is scheduled for April 22, while the Arlington Public Schools budget — Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is presenting his proposed budget tonight — is scheduled to be adopted on May 4."

The local news portal added:

"The two-cent rate increase itself is expected to bring in an additional $14.8 million in on-going revenue. Much of that is earmarked by Schwartz for an overall $21.2 million increase in funding for Arlington Public Schools, which is experiencing a prolonged period of enrollment growth, and additional funding for Metro, which is also set to receive $22 million in bond funds from Arlington for capital projects.

“It is never easy to recommend an increase in property tax rates, but Metro and our public schools are both vitally important to our County’s continued prosperity, and both are in urgent need of additional funding,” Schwartz said in a press release.

"Other areas of spending increases, as outlined in the press release and in a press briefing Thursday morning, include streetlight maintenance, road paving, facilities maintenance, land acquisition, public safety and economic development.

"Schwartz said streetlight maintenance and road maintenance, in particular, were identified as top priorities in resident satisfaction surveys."

The county's press release about the Manager's proposed FY 2018 budget included five bullet points:

  • Two-cent property tax rate increase recommended to fund Metro, APS “extraordinary needs”
  • Up to $22 million increase in proposed Schools funding
  • $7.4 million increase in Metro funding
  • County operations kept at current level of services
  • More funding for streetlight maintenance, street paving, public safety

The press release points to the FY 2018 budget information page for much, much more information. At the moment, the two most important links are:

There are 58 reader comments at the moment, but collette's comment seems the  most appropriate, i.e., "County Residents Propose Firing County Manager." Also, tburger asks, "Why are county employees getting a 3.25% increase in salary...that easily doubles the current inflation rate?" In addition, ARLnow.com reader JK points us to an April 9, 2015 Washington Business Journal story that highlights the fact that "Arlington households have the second-highest tax burden in the nation, according to NerdWallet."

Finally, mark your calendars for some important dates, as noted in the county press release, "The budget and tax/ fee hearings will be held on March 28 and March 30 and the Board will adopt the FY 2018 Budget on April 22."

Growls readers who are Arlington County taxpayers are encouraged to follow the Manager's proposed FY 2018 budget as it wends its way to becoming the Arlington County Board's adopted FY 2018 budget on April 22. If you wish further information about the Manager's proposed FY 2018 budget, or wish to comment on the budget, just click-on the following link to send the Board a message:

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

And tell them ACTA sent you.

UPDATE (2/25/17) The Washington Post's Patricia Sullivan reported on the County Manager's proposed FY 2018, which included a proposal to increase the real estate tax rate by up to two cents, writing in part:

"County Manager Mark Schwartz said the 3 percent rise in property assessments this year will generate enough tax revenue to cover the county’s existing obligations and allow officials to shift money to pay for smaller initiatives without a tax hike.

"But paying for the “clearly extraordinary needs” of Metro and the Arlington public school system will require more money. “I never like advocating for tax increases or tax-rate increases, but both of these are critical priorities,” Schwartz said in a briefing before meeting with the county board."

UPDATE (2/25/17) The Arlington Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey also reports on the County Manager's proposed "2-cent increase in the tax rate."

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