« May 2019 | Main

June 05, 2019

Pay Raise for the County Board? Vote by June 11!

Do you believe County Board members deserve a pay raise? Board members obviously do.

Yesterday, ARLnow columnist Mark Kelly addressed this very topic:

This is not just any old cost-of-living adjustment mind you, but a raise that could be more than 40%. Libby Garvey speculated the pay could rise from around $57,000 to $82,000.

To put $25,000 into perspective, it would take this year’s tax increase on roughly 60 average homeowners to fund one Board Member’s pay raise. It would take more than 300 homeowners to fund the raises for the entire Board.

One could reasonably argue that from time to time the County Board should adjust its pay upward to reflect the hours they work and inflation. This post is not necessarily about what is reasonable, though $25,000 seems clearly beyond reasonable for what is supposed to be a part-time Board. Instead, it addresses the dishonesty of the arguments from our elected officials and the timing of the vote.

Let’s go back all the way to January. That is when Arlington County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey said about a pay raise, “I don’t actually think it’s appropriate this year.” The comments came in the context of the so-called “tight budget times” that the Board claimed necessitated a 5% tax increase on homeowners for 2019.

Dorsey’s words were clearly designed to make Arlingtonians think he and the Board wouldn’t dream of considering a raise as they were asking taxpayers to fork over more of their hard-earned money to the five spendthrifts. And the Board proceeded to go through the annual budget process without discussing a pay raise as part of that package.

It is clear what Chairman Dorsey actually meant was, the right time to vote on a pay raise is after the deadline for candidates to get on the November ballot. https://www.arlnow.com/2019/06/04/the-right-note-trouble-paying-your-taxes/

Do board members work many hours, yes? In most cases, board members are likely to be working more than part-time hours. One important question: For whom are County Board members working?

Are they working for average citizens? Do they listen and respond quickly and appropriately? Most important, are County Board members doing their homework? Do they hold county staff members and the County Manager accountable? And are they working for the public’s best, long-term interests?

In terms of recent decisions made by the board, who will benefit from the recent approval of detached accessory dwellings, units that can be used as Airbnb rentals and may be located closer to a neighbor’s home than to the owner’s own home? Who will benefit from the elimination of single-family zoning?

Who will support the operations of a $100 million+ aquatic center (remember the Artisphere?), located in a remote corner of the county (and in a flood-prone zone)? Boeing’s $10 million contribution is welcome, but it won’t last very long. Do we really need a boathouse in Rosslyn?

If you have strong feelings about the board’s pay raise proposal, take the short survey (just 2 questions) at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CBOSalaries. Note: The survey closes on June 11! —The Reality Chick