The Board voted unanimously Tuesday night on budget guidance that seeks to limit growth of county government operations to 1 percent in financial year 2013, while allowing Donnellan to propose an additional .66 percent in spending on projects previously committed to by the Board. Board members asked that Donnellan protect public health and safety, maintain the county’s social safety net, and invest in affordable housing and environmental sustainability.
“In these uncertain economic times, the Board is committed to limiting spending growth, preserving the safety net for our community’s most vulnerable members, and fulfilling previous project plans,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a press release. “Our guidance to the County Manager reflects these priorities.”
The county said it’s only expecting “modest” revenue growth in FY 2013 — based on slightly higher real estate assessments — while facing higher costs for employee compensation, health care, facility maintenance, the county’s share of the Metro budget, debt service and schools. The county is anticipating spending growth at Arlington Public Schools, which is financially separate from county government, to be about 2.7 percent in FY 2013.
The budget guidance comes at a time when the rate of inflation is about 3.5 percent. Last year’s budget included 5.1 percent spending growth, but contained no tax rate increase.
Donnellan will now begin the process of gathering public input on the new budget. She will hold her first public budget meeting a week from today, on Wednesday, Dec. 7. The meeting will be held in the Central Library auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street) at 7:00 p.m.
The Board is expected to pass a final budget in April 2012. The new financial year will start on July 1, 2012.
Massage practitioners have been required to obtain county permits to perform massages and to operate a massage parlor in Arlington since the mid-1970s. At that time, massage parlors were often viewed as fronts for prostitution businesses.
That licensing process is now “superfluous,” according to county staff, because the Virginia Board of Nursing has been doing its own licensing for massage therapists since 1997. Plus, officials say, prostitution isn’t nearly as endemic as it once was in the massage industry.
“The whole field of massage has evolved and changed incredibly in the past couple of decades, such that there are a lot of very legitimate medical practitioners out there using massage for all kinds of health reasons,” Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier told ARLnow.com in September.
The Board agreed with county staff’s recommendation to do away with the massage licensing ordinance.
“This code is outdated, degrading and redundant,” Board member Jay Fisette said, adding that eliminating the ordinance would be an example of the Board following its New Years promise to break down some of “the barriers to small business.”
Before the Board’s vote last night, regulations required massage therapists to submit a form, a $50 fee, a massage school diploma or certificate, two passport size photos, a Virginia massage therapist certificate and an FBI record check including fingerprints. Now, message practitioners will only need a state license.
Arlington County Police will still investigate any accusation of prostitution activity related to a message business, county staff said.
The group says the number of calls they receive regarding deer has risen every year for the past six years. In 2005, for instance, there were 39 deer-related calls, compared to 79 such calls so far this year.
“Calls range from complaints about deer eating plants to injured deer to deer killed by cars,” AWLA employee Rita Naimoli said in an email. “We recently had two bucks crash through a resident’s window. Our officers see the evidence every day of the quickly growing deer population. Like other wild animals deer now thrive in some of the densest human settlements.”
Residents should avoid feeding deer, Naimoli said, to avoid situations like this.
“Although deer are beautiful creatures, feeding them destroys their natural fear of humans and can lead to aggression,” she wrote. “The League urges residents to enjoy wildlife from a distance and to avoid any interaction for their own safety and the well being of wildlife.”
Although it’s technically deer hunting season in Northern Virginia, Arlington County ordinances prohibit the use of bows and firearms for hunting in most circumstances.
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
A new restaurant in the far southeastern corner of Arlington is worried that its customers are having a hard time finding it due to outdated GPS data.
Melody Tavern is located at 3650 S. Glebe Road, near Potomac Yard — but mapping software and GPS systems often interpret the address incorrectly. For instance, Google Maps will steer users to a vacant lot several blocks away.
The restaurant recommends that customers use the address 3600 S. Glebe Road, instead, when using navigation systems. That address seems to work in most cases.
The 150+ seat, 6,700 square foot restaurant, which opened with a series of food tastings and soft openings earlier this month, is facing another challenge: it’s barely visible from the street.
“Much of its outdoor signage is difficult to see or obscured by trees,” a press release acknowledged. Still, owner Michel Daley says that the people who do finally find Melody Tavern are becoming loyal fans of the restaurant’s “creative American cuisine, warm and intimate atmosphere and ‘40s style jazz and blues music.”
“We think of ourselves as a ‘hidden jewel,’” Daley said. “We are definitely a destination place, but people do find us, and they are being drawn in by our good, reasonably-priced food. We offer plenty of free parking, and our application to offer live music is being processed.”
Daley hopes to be able to host live jazz and blues acts once his live entertainment application works its way through the Arlington County approval process.
To the dismay of its loyal customers, the butcher shop at Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd) will be closing this week.
Via an early-morning announcement on Facebook, butcher shop proprietor Bruce Saunders said that he had made the difficult decision to close up shop.
After much thought and soul searching, I’m sorry to inform everyone that as of this week, the Butcher Shop at Westover Market will be closing. Cody and I extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our friends and neighbors in and around Arlington for your support and patronage over the past year and a half. It’s been great to serve you and to have supported our local farmers and their families. Please continue to support these fine farm families and the hard work they do. See ya around town!
Since it launched in 2010, the Saunders-run butcher counter at Westover Market has specialized in premium, locally-sourced meats.
Hat tip to EatMore DrinkMore
Roger K. Clark III is facing a first degree murder charge in connection with the 2009 slaying of Diener. The 57-year-old Diener was found lying on a Clarendon side street in the early morning of Dec. 29, 2009. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
After a year and a half investigation, police arrested Clark and another man in June. The other suspect has since been released, while Clark faces a jury trial that’s currently scheduled to begin on Jan. 9, 2012.
The trial is expected to last at least four days, according to Diener’s sister.
Traffic is very slow on the entire length of westbound I-66, from Rosslyn to the Toll Road. The backups are so bad that there are reports that ancillary backups have formed on some main local roads that connect with I-66 on-ramps, like Sycamore Street, Washington Boulevard and Glebe Road. Route 110 is also said to be jammed as a result of the I-66 traffic.
Via Twitter, several I-66 commuters have said that the slow traffic has added 30 or more minutes to their westbound commute.
WTOP is reporting that only one lane of I-66 is squeezing by the accident at the Toll Road.
Board Members Argue for New Taxing Powers — Arlington County Board members aren’t too pleased with the Republican-controlled state legislature’s reluctance to grant new taxing power to localities. County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman called Virginia Republicans “extremists” who want to “wreck government” by not giving localities enough ways to raise revenue. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Accepts Homeland Security Grants — Arlington will accept nearly $1.35 million in federal homeland security grants, after receiving County Board approval last night. The grants will be used to purchase license plate reading equipment and mobile surveillance trailers, for use by law enforcement agencies throughout the National Capital Region. [Arlington County]
Va. Square Building Sells for $62 Million — The office building at 3601 Wilson Boulevard, known as One Virginia Square, has changed hands. The building was purchased by an investment firm for $61.8 million. The previous owner acquired the building for $42.2 million in 2004. [Washington Business Journal]
New Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery — Arlington National Cemetery is constructing a new columbarium to hold the cremated remains of more than 20,000 deceased military members. Construction on the building is expected to begin in January and wrap up in mid-2013. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA