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Federation to Arlington County Board: Hold Line on Tax Rate

At the Arlington Sun Gazette today, Scott McCaffrey reported, "Delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation voted overwhelmingly on April 4 in calling on the County Board to enact no increase to the real estate tax rate for 2017."

McCaffrey then continued:

"Boosters of the proposal said the county government has enough funds sloshing around from surpluses in previous years to support County Manager Mark Schwartz’s entire budget request without resorting to the manager’s proposed 2-cent increase in the tax rate.

"Dipping into excess leftover funds would  fund Schwartz’s request in full, give the taxpayers a break and wouldn’t place the long-term health of the county government at risk, said Burton Bostwick, a member of the federation’s revenues and expenditures committee.

"The county has reserves on reserves, contingencies on contingencies,” said Bostwick, who presented the committee’s recommendation to the entire membership. It passed, 30-9, with six abstentions.

"To fund the billion-dollar county budget, Schwartz proposed raising the tax rate from  99.1 cents per $100 assessed valuation to $1.011 cents, with the extra two pennies on the tax rate going to support a growing school system and needs of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

"Each penny added to the tax rate results in a higher tax burden of $7 million for county property owners.

“The county could easily fund the $14 million for Metro and schools out of existing funds,” Bostwick said.

"Why, then, would county staff propose a higher tax rate rather than be more creative? “They probably aren’t trying hard enough,” Bostwick said.

"Not everyone within the Civic Federation embraced the idea of no increase in the tax rate. Sarah McKinley, a delegate from Columbia Heights, said it was “unrealistic” to take that route."

Another delegate was concerned "about the potential impact of federal budget cuts." But, McCaffrey notes, "Suzanne Sundburg, a Civic Federation fiscal hawk, countered that even during the economic meltdown nearly a decade ago, the county government still ended its fiscal years with budget surpluses, so there was little to fear."

A copy of the resolution can be found at the Civic Federation's Revenues & Expenditures webpage.

Growls Readers: If you didn't get a chance to speak at last week's budget and tax hearings, it is not too late for Growls readers to comment on the FY 2018 budget. Arlington residents have three options of making their voices heard:

  • Second, you can contact the Arlington County Board with any relevant comments or questions about the County Manager's proposed FY 2018 budget. Just click-on the following link to send the Board a message:

- Write or call the Arlington County Board via e-mail, or

  • Third, call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130.

And tell them ACTA sent you.

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