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Budget Proposal Includes Small Tax Hike

by ARLnow.com — February 9, 2012 at 9:57 am 3,577 151 Comments

The new $1.03 billion budget proposed by County Manager Barbara Donnellan includes a 0.5 cent real estate tax rate increase and a 2.1 percent increase in spending.

Donnellan outlined her proposed FY 2013 budget at a work session with the County Board last night.

While the budget largely seeks to maintain existing services at current levels, it includes four key areas of increased spending: affordable housing, county employee compensation, restoration of branch library hours and Arlington Public Schools.

Library hours will be restored under the proposed budget, at a cost of $0.4 million, after being cut in Financial Years 2010 and 2011. Employee compensation will increase with merit-based raises and an increase in the county’s living wage rate from $12.75/hour to $13.13/hour. Housing will see a $1.8 million increase under the budget, which includes $0.5 million to restore lost federal funding, along with a $1.3 million hike in the county’s yearly affordable housing investment.

The budget also includes a steep $18.3 million increase in the transfer to Arlington Public Schools, which has been struggling to keep up with rising enrollment. The school transfer would total $397 million under the proposed budget. All told, the budget includes a 1.6 percent increase in funding for county operations — less than the current rate of inflation — and a 4.8 percent increase in school funding.

The increased spending will be mostly paid for by the 6.6 percent increase in real estate assessments, which will produce higher tax revenues. Another $1.5 million will be generated through Donnellan’s proposed 0.5 cent tax rate increase. Additional revenue will be brought in by a 3.4 percent increase in water and sewer service charges. The tax and fee burden on the average Arlington household will increase by nearly $120, to $6,645 per year.

“Our approach to long-term planning, Smart Growth and conservative financial management continues to provide sustainable growth,” Donnellan said at the work session. “I believe the best way to be prepared is to continue our approach of recent years — first maintaining core services, then making targeted, strategic investments to improve services, and always planning for the future.”

Donnellan proposed that the County Board advertise a 1.5 cent increase in the tax rate to give it some extra leeway during the budget process. Donnellan will formally present her budget to the Board at its afternoon meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Public budget hearing will be held in March, in advance of final budget adoption on April 21.

  • G Clifford Prout

    “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    • Jason S.

      There are plenty of taxes in uncivilized societies as well.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Ain’t that the truth!

      • Josh S

        A (likely) willful misunderstanding of the meaning of the quote.

  • NorthThomas

    My assessment already went up 4%, now they raise my rate too. This is getting out of hand.

  • Kim Tax-il

    Ergo, you pay more taxes because G Cliff believes it makes him more “civil.”

    • Josh S

      Er, no.

      • Patrick

        Er, Yes

  • Garden City

    So now I read about a proposal for a real estate tax increase the day after I read that the county board agreed to fund operation of a 150-seat theater space that will occupy part of a new office building on North Fairfax Drive where Arlington Funeral Home now sits. I can barely verbalize my frustration. That Republican running for county board? He has my vote.

    • VSQ

      Could you tell us (and maybe provide a link) to where you

      “read that the county board agreed to fund operation of a 150-seat theater space that will occupy part of a new office building on North Fairfax Drive where Arlington Funeral Home now sits”

      I’m interested in that theater space and had not heard this.

      Thanks!

      • Chris Slatt
        • VSQ

          Thanks, but that is just the press release from last month. It doesn’t specify who will be allowed to (and pay to) operate the theater. The only financial committment indicated is the one dollar per year, 30 year lease that the county will pay. Is that the funding that Garden City is referring to ? He/She seemed to indicate some new information, which I have an interest in.

          • nom de guerre

            Here’s a link to the article that appeared on arlnow.com This information may not answer all of your questions but is another reference.

            http://www.arlnow.com/2012/01/23/revamped-virginia-square-development-plan-approved/

          • Clarendon

            Thanks again, but I am very familiar with the project and have an interest in who will be managing the operations of the theater. I was unaware that anyone (including the county) had committed the funds to the operation of the theater as “Garden City” had implied.

            Perhaps it would be easiest if “Garden City” would indicate what it was that he/she read yesterday and I could then see if there is some new information that I wasn’t aware of.

          • Chris Slatt

            I’m pretty sure Garden City was just reading to much into something. Nothing new that I’m aware of on that front.

      • Garden City

        This is everything I know: http://www.sungazette.net/arlington/commentary/highs-lows-edition/article_7ca9cc88-5196-11e1-8b70-001871e3ce6c.html

        And when I read “…fund operation of…” I can only assume, based on past experience, that it’s going to be more than $1 per year.

        • The Taxed Man

          Yep. The Artisphere is another one of those “dollar a year” leases and look at what that black hole, sorry black box, is costing us.

  • ArlingtonSouth

    Increasing the investment for affordable housing in the area only decreases the amount of land available for market development. That decrease makes all of the other land more expensive.

    Who is John Galt?

    • Josh S

      The fictional creation of a not terribly stable author?

      Life is far more complicated than is allowed for in Ayn Rand’s utopian visions. (Or anyone else’s utopian visions, for that matter.)

      The absense of afforable housing in Arlington is a great example of the “free” market working, for example. Lots and lots of people want to live in Arlington, many of those people make lots of money, therefore the market boosts the prices charged for housing. Now comes the teacher (for example), necessary for the functioning of Arlington as a society, yet she or he cannot afford to live in Arlington and is therefore faced with burdens over which she / he has no control. Ayn Rand says we all live for ourselves, we don’t burden others or accept the burdens of others. How is this fair? How is this workable?

      This is but one tiny example.

      It’s utopian BS and while it, like any other political philosphy, can color our thoughts about what ought to be, it doesn’t provide a one-size-fits-all solution to every problem.

      • Patrick

        If the teacher can’t afford to live in arlington there are plenty of affordable communities nearby. Many of us have to commute to our job. No one has a right to live in a certain community.

        • CW

          Right, but the question is, do we WANT them to live in or near our communitty. Do we feel that the societal benefits outweigh the costs? Do we want Arlington to be known as “the place where you have to live an hour away if you want to teach there?” What quality of teachers would that attract?

          These are all rhetorical questions, to which I do not have the answer, but the situation is not so cut-and-dried as you make it above in just simply insinuating that people should suck it up and commute here. At some point that will be unattractive to those individuals and we need to evaluate whether the quality of services in the County (which in turn are tied to desirability and economic growth) will suffer as a result.

          • Clarendon

            I like starting with the principles/vision first like you lay out. That was we can move to specific policy ideas knowing where everyone stands.

            I would prefer to live in a community with a broad socio-economic cross-section. I think it is more interesting than everyone have approximately the same means and same type of jobs. I start there, and then evaluate the policy options.

            Some, I expect would rather live in a community where everyone is the same (and there are plenty of those).

          • North A-Town Snob

            There are plenty of very affordable areas to live that are a mere minutes from Arlington, not the hour away that you state. A large chunk of Falls Church (more so the Fairfax County part of FC not neccesarily the city), Annandale and Alexandria. There are perfectly nice areas of single family homes, townhouses and apartments available in these areas for both rent and sale that are a fraction of the prices that Arlington offers. I would think that the “teacher that is necessary for the functioning of Arlington as a society” that Josh S describes can be just as effective in educating our children whether they live in Arlington or 5-10 minutes away in one of the more affordable areas I mentioned.

      • South Awwwlington

        Actually Josh S, you’re wrong. Please scroll to page 22 and examine Step A, Bachelor’s + 15 credits…guess what!!!

        http://www.apsva.us/cms/lib2/VA01000586/Centricity/Domain/22/Pay%20Plan%20FY%2012.pdf

        Yay!!! The single teacher after the first year is automatically disqualified provided they meet their credit requirement to keep their jobs.

        Now I don’t want to cause an undue burden on your fingers will needless mouse clicks, so here is the link the County’s affordable housing page:
        http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/housing/hpp/CPHDHousingHppHsgData.aspx

        All affordable units built in the county during the last three years have been at 40%, 50%, and 60%. You only need compare the two charts to see the outcome and who really ends up homeless in Arlington…It’s not the retail and fast-food employees, its working class professionals.

        I welcome any real argument based in fact as rebuttal.

        • Josh S

          Huh?

          My use of a teacher was purely for illustrative purposes. I made no arguments based on the facts of this particular development and how it is or is not structured.

          Arlington South seemed to be arguing against the existence of affordable housing in general. So I responded with a general response. (Skewed toward the reference to Atlas Shrugged, of course….)

          But, in general, I will say that I find that there is definitely a hole in the middle between the maximum income of many affordable housing programs and the minimum income needed to reasonably qualify for market rate homes in the DC metro area. So, if you are expressing some sort of frustration that many teachers won’t qualify for these particular apartments yet still won’t be able to afford to live in the vast majority of Arlington housing units, I sympathize with that frustration, I’ve felt it myself and I believe that affordable housing programs should be tweaked to address that problem.

          • South Awwwlington

            Perhaps I misunderstood you then. I believe a little softening of the rhetoric would do both sides of this argument some good.

            I can speak for myself, my condo association and the overall feeling on most residents in CHWCA – the County asks for input and the proceeds as planned. With the completion of the Residences at Arlington Mill, CHWCA will be the home to 1,310 committed CAF’s (20%) of all County CAF inventory. If any other Civic Association can match that, I dare them.

            Why are the homeowners in CHWCA not allowed to reap the benefits of gentrification also? Let me be clear, I don’t expect to get rich or the like, but I would like to be able to reach some retail and restaurants on foot besides McDonald’s, CVS and 7-Eleven. I might also add that parking in this neighborhood had become downright warfare and one can’t leave their home after 9pm for fear of not being able to park upon return. I don’t expect you to sympathize with our plight but I would appreciate a llttle less professorial tone on your posts to those who don’t always agree with you.

          • SoArl

            We must live in the same condo complex! I bought here because of the expected improvements to the Pike and now I feel like county is determined to ensure I never see any rise in my property values – it’s gone down every year since I’ve been here. We are considering selling now for a huge loss because I fear the longer we wait, the harder it will be – since the county is apparently going to make this end of the Pike a ghetto.

          • Josh S

            Did you buy the condo to sell it?

            I thought most people buy homes to live in them. Once it’s bought, why concern yourself with the market until such time as a life change gives you reason to sell?

          • SoArl

            Yes, we were not planning to stay there forever.

          • South Awwwlington

            Most people do buy their homes to live in them Josh, not to die in them.

            This isn’t Property Virgins or Flip this House.

            Every neighborhood in Arlington should be expected to shoulder the Affordable Housing Burden equally.

          • South Awwwlington

            lol probably so…now if we could just get the County to turn over Arlington Mill Drive to us, we’d be ok with parking.

          • South Awwwlington
  • Richard Cranium

    What’s in the budget for the Art-Is-Fear?

  • Bluemontsince1961

    In other breaking news, the sun rose in the east, water is wet, and fish swim. I’d be more surprised if the County budget included a small tax decrease.

    • drax

      Donnellan proposed a tax cut for 2010, though I think the Board kept rates steady that year.

  • truth be told

    Unacceptable. Period.

    • Josh S

      The Truth has spoken.

      (Except it forgot to tell us what is acceptable. Inquiring minds want to know….nay, are hungry to know. Must know! NEED to know!!! Please, oh truth teller, please enlighten us that we may be more enlighted and come to know and understand the one and true path!!!)

      • truth be told

        Sure. A spending cut for starters. That would be acceptable.

      • Kim Tax-il

        Ok, Josh. I’ll bite.

        Take time off today from posting ill-informed nonsense about everything from political philosophy and education to snarky syllogisms for fun and profit, and go buy a copy of Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics, A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy.”

        Maybe that will help you find a path option. Did you once write that you taught school?

        • Josh S

          Will this book include trite, easy to digest proclamations about the one and true acceptable way to run society? And once I read it, I’ll be all done learning about economics?

          Yea!

          I love easy thinking options. Thanks for the advice!

      • South Awwwlington

        I think you state before that previously you were a teacher…it’s clear to me now, reading your snarky and asinine remarks why you are no longer one.

        • Josh S

          Bewarrreee the SHEEEEPLLEEEE.. They are coming!!!!

    • drax

      The rate will still be one of the lowest in Northern Virginia. Get over it.

  • GetReal

    If the county would properly assess new construction and newly completed additions it would lower the tax burden for all of us.

    http://franklymls.com/AR7721942

    http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/RealEstate/reassessments/scripts/Inquiry.asp?action=view&lrsn=2797

    • Burger

      Maybe I am confused but if that is a knockdown than how would the county make the correct assessment on the home until it reaches the market.

  • Barbie

    Math is hard. Can someone tell me what the .5 cent increase would mean for a property assessed at, say, $300K?

    • JamesE

      $15

    • Boogity

      $2,874 vs $3,024. 5.22% higher than last year.

      • Boogity

        This is factoring in the average assessment increase from last year, obviously.

        • Barbie

          Mine went down.

          • Boogity

            That’s a shame.

    • Chris Slatt

      I put together a calculator that will lay out (based on your assessment last year and your assessment this year) what your tax was last year, and what it will be this year based on no increase, a half cent increase or a 1.5 cent increase.

      http://www.engagearlington.com/archive/2012/02/09/property-tax-calculator.aspx

      • drax

        Thanks Chris, that’s cool!

  • Patrick

    The tax and spending liberal Donnellan and the CB just can’t help themselves. A 1.3 million hike in the county’s yearly affordable housing investment? What percentage increase is this? How much is the total county year affordable housing investment? I honestly think the county board and Ms. Donnellan are trying to rid arlington of all market rate affordable apartments.

    • South Arlington

      YES. Please do. Market rate affordable = slummy, rundown eyesores that have cheap rent because they are so terrible.

  • spaghetti

    2011 rate: $2,874/year
    Proposed 2012 rate: $2,889

    • spaghetti

      This was a reply to Barbie

  • JamesE

    I just got hosed on an appraisal by people selling low in my building probably due to financial trouble but I bet my county assessment will go up.

    • FrenchyB

      The assessments came out last month – you should already know.

      • JamesE

        I just checked online, went up.

  • JimPB

    Are the assessments valid?
    The assessment on our rambler went up $11,000; no improvements to it, and when one is sold, virtually everyone has been torn down and replaced with a McMansion. The market is clearly saving that the valves of the ramblers are (positive) having sewer and water connections and (negative) requiring the cost of demolition and removal. If anything, the assessment for the rambler should be declining.

    • Tabs

      You can contest it.

      • veeta

        Contesting is an exercise in futility. Despite the fact that I paid 100k less than their assessment the same year it was assessed, they will not budge on the land value. I am not going anywhere for a long time, so it does not make me do a happy dance to have an over-assessed house.

    • drax

      Your rambler isn’t worth much. The land under it is worth a fortune. Look at your assessment letter, it gives a value for each.

      • NorthThomas

        In my case (and every one of my neighbors I spoke to), our improvements went up, while the land stayed the same. Exactly the same.

        • North Pershing Drive

          Same here. No improvements were made last year though. How does that work?

          • PL25rd

            Same here – no change to the house at all, but the value of improvements went up by over $40K – or almost 50%!! Land valued at $460K, total assessment (of our small Cape Cod) went from $550K to over $590K.

          • Sam

            Same here. Our land value stayed the same and our improvement value went up 12% (!) even though we didn’t do a thing to the house and nothing similar sold in the neighborhood. Baffling.

          • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

            Simple, your number came up…..they have the target number that they need to hit so they spread it around.

            It really has very little to do with what you can actually sell your house for.

          • NorthThomas

            I think they call it The Arlington Way.

        • drax

          I think “improvement” means the house itself, because building the house was an “improvement” to the land. It doesn’t mean you improved the house. I could be wrong but that’s what a quick Google search tells me. Anyone else know?

          • NorthThomas

            There is The Land, and there is The Improvement(s). When I say my improvements went up, it refers to the assessment on my house, deck, and detached garage in the back that the county throws an assessment on.

            I thought everyone knew that basic jargon. Anyone who owns should.

  • esmith69

    I’m shocked that “Steve-no go” hasn’t chimed in yet…

    • Josh S

      He’s over on the affordable housing thread.

      Calling it a bad idea….

  • Arlwhenver

    Year after year actual Arlington County spending increases outpace whatever is claimed in the manager’s or the Board’s adopted budgets. The budget process is a charade draping wool over the eyes of the sheeple. It will proceed as usual in 2012.

  • Swag

    *shrug*

    Some things are worth paying for.

  • Tax Payer and Citizen

    It’s frustrating to watch taxes go up every year, but Arlington is way better than it was just ten years ago. To my mind, it’s worth the extra costs of living here. If you don’t like paying for it, exercise your constitutuional right to trave and leave. I hear taxes are lower in Nevada, and think of the house you could buy. Good luck finding a job, though.

    . . . And Somalia is even cheaper, and has almost no government regulation whatsoever. Ayn Rand’s paradise, finally realized! Why don’t you libertarians just all move there?

    • Patrick

      Exactly. All those who don’t agree with me should move to Somalia. Why didn’t I think of that.

    • John Fontain

      Our only option if we don’t like it is to leave? That would almost make me think that you believe the public servants at the County aren’t beholden to the citizens. What a democracy!

      • Ballston

        No, you could also vote for your representatives. However, the people have voted and we decided that we’re ok with paying an extra $15-$40 a year in order to live in an area as nice as this.

      • CW

        One of the great ironies of life: The same people who are off on the affordable housing page saying that the poor should be subjected to free market forces are absolutely SHOCKED and OFFENDED when someone suggests that they have a choice in whether to buy into a product and service package that is being offered (county residency at a price).

        “You mean that if supply and demand intersect at a point that I dislike, my option as a consumer is to find a substitute product? I thought supply and demand only applied to poor people?”

        Remember your little free market that you love so much? Well it’s telling me right now that the demand side is stacked against the supply side, and houses hardly last a minute on the market here. So you can complain about tax rates all you want, but there’s a line of people who would be happy to buy right into it. Isn’t that how the free market is supposed to work? Things are worth only what people are willing to pay for them?

        • truth be told

          He he he…. subsidized housing and free market in the same post. he he he…..

          • CW

            I never said that I was a pure free-marketer. I’m not. Only pointing out the conflicting viewpoints held by those who tout it on one hand but don’t like it when other aspects of the idea come back to roost. Namely, they tell poor people that they can leave and live elsewhere (because they cant afford the rent), but get offended when someone tells them that they can do the same (because they can’t or don’t want to afford the taxes).

          • South Awwwlington

            If the County were as “Smart” about it’s Affordable Housing as it is about it’s commercial TOD, I guarantee they would have far more allies than they currently do. However, it seems some portions of the County, on paper or only through unspoken words, have been deemed Affordable Housing districts.

            I cannot support the current standard and shoving it wherever the County deems fit with ZERO regard or deference to folks already living in those neighborhoods.

            We are the residents who pay the taxes and vote(d) for this Board. No more though.

          • CW

            I can agree with that. A lot of issues being combined here.

          • Zoning Victim

            Nothing the government does is “free market.” This post doesn’t even make any sense. Those of us who don’t want to pay for other people to live in Arlington complaining about it and trying to stop it is not “telling poor people to leave.” If they can figure out how to own a home here at their own expense, then that’s great; that’s free market. Not wanting the government to supply even more affordable housing at my expense and then being told to leave if I don’t like it has nothing to do with the free market. It has to do with idiots that don’t have anything better to say when someone else points out that it’s morally wrong to steal money from one person even if it’s to help another.

            If most of the people in Arlington are committed to affordable housing, then someone should establish a charity to help pay the mortgage for people who can’t afford to live here instead of the government forcing everyone to give money to things they find to be an inappropriate redistribution of wealth.

          • Josh S

            Victim -

            Your final paragraph is basically a description of how democracy works. Yes, most of the people are committed to affordable housing. Taxes are raised to spend on affordable housing.

            Your argument against is an argument against liberal democratic society.

            What is your proposed alternative arrangement for how people should live together and govern themselves?

          • South Awwwlington

            I would argue that if Affordable Housing were to creep into the northern-most and western edges of the County into the most affluent areas, you would hear a hell of lot more blow back at board meetings. Instead, they are placed in neighborhoods that were deemed affordable by those who live there according to market pricing. Many of us are probably working our second job on Saturday morning to make up cash for improvements to our homes or to by groceries with or to have a little spending money; rather than attending County Board meetings.

            Josh S – unless you are going to survey the whole County, you can make no such claim about the will of the people. You are basing your supposition on silence and inaction.

          • Zoning Victim

            My last paragraph is about the tyranny of the majority, which is why we have a republican form of government that is supposed to be following our constitution.

            Most people don’t actually realize we are subsidizing housing for people who make $70K+ per year, they simply hear “affordable housing for the poor” and think that’s great. Until that actual wording goes on a ballot and gets approved, we aren’t using democracy. A couple of thousand people just decided who is going to represent 200,000 of us, and that’s not really democracy, either.

            People keep talking about how we are a democracy these days, but in the past it was seen as almost a bad word. That’s because people back then understood how the majority could start bullying things out of the rest of the people. There will always be more people who make $75K or less, so in a democracy (with no constitution to constrain them), they are allowed to just vote to have the government take it from those who make more than that and give it to them. No matter how you slice it; it’s just wrong. This is not the same thing as providing a temporary safety net. This is taking people who make far above the national average and making the rest of us help to pay their way because there is more of them than there are of us.

          • Zoning Victim

            Nothing the government does is “free market.” This post doesn’t even make any sense. Those of us who don’t want to pay for other people to live in Arlington complaining about it and trying to stop it is not “telling poor people to leave.” They aren’t here in the first place, or they would already have afforded a place to live. If they can figure out how to get housing here at their own expense, then that’s great; that’s free market. Not wanting the government to supply even more affordable housing at my expense and then being told to leave if I don’t like it has nothing to do with the free market. It has to do with people that don’t have anything better to say when someone else points out that it’s morally wrong to steal money from one person even if it’s to help another.

            If most of the people in Arlington are committed to affordable housing, then someone should establish a charity to help pay the mortgage for people who can’t afford to live here instead of the government forcing everyone to give money to things they find to be an inappropriate redistribution of wealth.

        • John Fontain

          “So you can complain about tax rates all you want, but there’s a line of people who would be happy to buy right into it.”

          CW – You really think people want to move to Arlington because of the taxes and not despite them? Come on.

          And I still don’t see how this has anything to do with my original point – county employees should serve the will of the people. Now I’ll say straight away that there hasn’t been a vote on whether people want to pay more in taxes this year. But suggesting that everyone is happy with the county’s taxes because houses sell fast – that sounds like quite a stretch to me.

          • Ballston

            They do serve our will. We wish for more services, so our taxes go up to pay for those services. We just nominated (elected) Libby Garvey who said schools should be a big priority during the election. The county board obviously listened and is proposing more spending on schools next year.

            No one said that everyone is happy with the increase in taxes, but enough of us are that our politicians continually support it. If everyone was as angry as you say, how would these people keep getting elected?

          • Zoning Victim

            Because the Democratic nomination was basically the election, as you pointed out, and only a few thousand people in a county of about 220,000 people voted during the nomination process.

          • CW

            You’re confounding two points. My original post was addressed to your comment in which you were aghast that someone would suggest that you might move if you don’t like the conditions here. I found it ironic because you and other posters tell low-income people to move all the time because they can’t afford it here. It’s the same market at work!

            A lot of people just might move here “because of the taxes”!!! If you think good schools, public transit, an extensive system of parks, the performing arts, and other services commonly derided as “boondoggles” on this site are things that make a community enjoyable to live in, then yes, you would move here for that. And the statistics clearly show that there is a surplus of people who would be willing to.

            Now, am I saying that the county should have carte blanche to waste as much money as it wants. No. But that’s for a different day. My original post was just pointing out a bit of irony.

          • John Fontain

            “you were aghast that someone would suggest that you might move if you don’t like the conditions here”

            I certainly didn’t mean to come across as aghast. I’m not sure how pointing out that leaving isn’t the only option translates to aghast. My sole point was to suggest that as citizens we have the right to speak up and the elected officials have the responsibility to listen. I acknowledge that there doesn’t seem to be a consensus against higher spending. But suggesting that our only recourse is to leave is simply ridiculous.

            “you … tell low-income people to move all the time”

            Really? I can’t recall having that view and I’d appreciate if you could remind me with examples. I do recall suggesting the county approve a WalMart in Shirlington for the express reason of providing an affordable shopping option for lower income residents. I’ve said that several times.

          • CW

            My understanding was that you were anti affordable housing, and the whole premise of those against affordable housing is that the poor should move to where the market dictates.

  • North Pershing Drive

    I seriously wonder who, besides the homeless, actually still goes to libraries. Why don’t we just shut them down?

    • SD

      sorry, but libraries are a great resource. let’s see free books, free dvds, magazines, etc., not to mention activities and learning exposure for children.

      • North Pershing Drive

        Libraries are most definitely not free, they cost a lot in taxes. Physical buildings and staff are very inefficient. It would probably make more sense and be cheaper to give an (income-based) subsidy for e-readers and e-books.

        • Quoth the Raven

          Not everyone wants their kids to stare at a computer screen all day. E-readers, while great in some ways, don’t fit the bill. Real books – you know, with pages you physically turn, pictures, etc., are a heck of a lot better.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Agree. The libraries, especially Central Library, are great resources and have a lot of great programs. Every time I go to Central Library, there are quite a lot of people there (and they far outnumber the homeless).

    • Tax Payer and Citizen

      People that read. Books. People that are smarter than you, apparently.

      • Josh S

        Beware the 16 y.o. shut ins who just go on the internet to troll….

        • Bluemontsince1961

          +1

      • Patrick

        Ah yes b/c anyone who doesn’t go to a library doesn’t read books and therefore isn’t smart. Im guessing you are someone who thinks that education and intelligence are the same thing.

    • Sherley

      I use the library all the time. Lots of people are there too.

    • dk

      My family visits the Central library about once a week.

    • Quoth the Raven

      That’s a bizarre comment. Anybody with kids uses the library constantly.

      • Quoth the Raven

        *replying to North Pershing comment, by the way.

      • Southeast Jerome

        Another group that uses the library a lot is the big student & young professional population studying for advanced degrees, certifications etc.

        Any given Saturday and Sunday Central Library has plenty of driven and motivated yuppies, without brown flip flops on, studying to persue MBA/CPA/CFA/CFP etc.

        Those yuppies dont always hang out at Spider Kellys

  • SD

    The assessed value of the improvement portion of our recently purchased home went up 24.5% since last year as a result of pulling old permits, the purchase, etc. I would be thrilled if all I had to worry about was the .5 cent tax increase. So it’s hard for me to sympathize with the vast majority who are facing a $15 – $40 increase over the course of the year. As long as the money is spent with long range goals in mind (schools, transportation, infrastructure), it’s well worth it.

    • Boogity

      Don’t forget Artisphere.

      • Josh S

        This is fabulous.

        What would be great is if I had a macro that would allow me to press a button everytime I’m on ARLnow and like every fourth post would just be – “Don’t forget Artisphere.”

        • Deez

          You wear that albatross so well. ;)

          • Josh S

            Actually, believe it or not, I was completely serious when I wrote the above. I was not attempting to make fun of or tease Boogity.

    • The Taxed Man

      Just a word to suggest that it would be wise to demand to see your entire assessment card (which is not what they put on the county website). They had my house down for one more bedroom than I have and my mother’s house for an additional bath which she did not have. They had that nonexisting extra bathroom on my mom’s assessemnt for several years running.
      Don’t be suprised if they ignore your inital request to see the full information. You have to be persistent- they are government bureaucrats after all.
      .

  • JamesE

    I only support the increased taxes if they use the funds to build more affordable restaurants like Taco Bell.

    • John Fontain

      Seconded!

      • CW

        Something we can all agree on.

        Let’s take a straw poll – Arlington implements a one-cent tax on each roll of toilet paper sold in the County, all of which goes into a fund to provide a tax subsidy for a Taco Bell in Clarendon/Courthouse. Yay or nay?

        • Bluemontsince1961

          LOL! Shoot, why not!

        • JamesE

          Make it between Clarendon and VA Square and you have a deal.

        • John Fontain

          Yeah, let’s petition the county to make it a condition to the next large development project that the project must include a Taco Bell in the building! Maybe the county can grant bonus density in exchange for the Taco Bell.

        • Josh S

          Don’t forget Artisphere.

          (See! It worked! Yea!)

  • Village Genius

    I cannot find a simple table showing how much the County spends each year and how much is proposed to be spent in the proposed budget. The article states that a 2% increase in spending which translates roughly to $20 million. That is not a small amount of an increase. If average tax burden is ~ $6,000, then that means about 3,000 households’ entire property tax will be required for just the increased spending.

    Although the overall budget figures are hard to find, the housing costs show a 55% increase in taxpayer funding since 2008. Wow!
    http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ManagementAndFinance/budget/file84869.pdf (page 10: $18 million increased to $28 million).

    This type of rapid increase in spending is what caused our individual tax burdens to double since 2002.

  • Burger

    Sometimes I wonder if the CB and Donellan think we are stupid.

    It is not ironic at all that prior to the RE assessments that the county board were calling for a 1% increase in spending.

    http://www.arlnow.com/2011/11/30/county-board-seeks-budget-with-limited-spending-growth/

    and, yet, we have 2.1% increase in spending less than 90 days later.

    Not to beat a dead horse, but in that same November board meeting the county proposed only a 2.7% increase in the school’s budget. Yet, when we look at the number today they are increasing spending by 4.83%

    Why do I not find it ironic that prior to RE assessments coming out the Board is definition of fiscal sanity, but when you pull the numbers out of the “black box” of RE assessments everything changes.

    What a joke.

    Our assessment jumped almost 30% yr-over-year and all of it on the building side not land side.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Mine was “interesting” – the house itself went up some, but the big jump was on the land. From the postings I’ve seen in this thread and the sites where the assessments are posted for the C.B. members, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme, reason, or consistency. One has to wonder if they put all the numbers/percentages in a big hat, draw one at random and declare “OK, this is the one we’ll send to Charlie Smith”, draw another one and declare “OK, this is the one we’ll send to Jane Doe”, etc. Among themselves…”OK, if you’ll okey-dokey my small increase in the land, but keeping my house the same (or lower), I’ll okey-dokey your land being the same (or lower) but increasing your house a little bit.”

      I could understand if everyone – everyone had both their home and land increased a bit each year consistently. But it seems that some folks see a big increase in a house/small one in the land, small increase in a house/big one in the land, assessments for “improvements” when the house hasn’t had any addition, deck, etc.

      Boggles the mind of the regular “joe” or “jane”.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        And the variations seem to be even within the same street or neighborhood when nobody has done any “improvements” to their homes.

  • Burger

    This is sort of a nice picture of hiding the ball

    –The increases, Donnellan noted, are offset by a 10 percent drop in the fee for trash and recycling pick-up and disposal–

    Of course, the price of trash collected is going to be cut in half but, of course, it isn’t the people’s money just money that can be spent in other places.

    http://www.sungazette.net/arlington/news/new-trash-contract-could-save-single-family-homeowners-some-money/article_7784523e-42a8-11e1-8238-0019bb2963f4.html

  • MC

    While some people are in principle against affordable housing, I am not. I do, however, question some of the affordable housing targets the budget is trying to support. This budget “restores” out of County funds money that came from HUD. Unfortunately, the trend is very clear there will be less Federal funds for such housing, meaning more of the burden will be local. According to the County budget, in FY2008 the County covered $19 million in housing expenses from taxes, about half the total housing budget. In FY2013, the County will spend $28 million, covering 60% from taxes of a budget that has grown by half in just five years. Our leaders need to address the realism of their vision.

  • Village Genius

    Found a year-to-year comparison (but only 2011, 2012, 2013): http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ManagementAndFinance/budget/file84871.pdf It is only 5 pages, so worth the time to review.
    2011 2012 2013 (proposed)
    Total Expenditures $967.2 $1,004.8 $1,026.4

    This shows $21.6 million more than current year and $59.2 million more than was spent in 2011.

    What does this mean? Well, the $59 million increase is MORE than the budget for the entire Police Department! The County budget increases in two years is the equivalent of funding an entire duplicate Police Department without actually doing so.

    The County Board should stop funding everything that comes along and start prioritizing within smaller budgets.

  • sine qua non

    Last time I checked there was plenty of affordable housing outside of Arlington.

  • Tom Smart

    I have lived in Arlington for 30 years. And the powers that be have never missed an opportunity to raise taxes year after year. They really don’t get it that we really don’t need everything that they think we need. Have they not heard that our country is in an economic recession. How about the concept of saving for a raining day? All they know how to do is tax, spend, tax more, spend more.

    • Sherley

      yes, they aren’t very prudent

    • Josh S

      Can Virginia counties create “rainy day funds?”

      I don’t know, so I’m really curious.

      Of course, even if they could, I am sure lots of people would have lots of ideas about how any surplus funds could be better used (for example, I, like a lot of people here, would like to see some roads here and there repaved) and I’m not sure saving it would automatically go to the top of that list as the wisest thing to do.

      • Zoning Victim

        If you check all of the articles on the AAA bond rating for Arlington, they all mention our solid reserve levels as being part of the reason for the rating. A reserve is basically a rainy day fund.

        • Josh S

          So, if we go back to Mr. Smart’s post, we find that, in fact, the county already is saving for a rainy day and in fact is doing so at a commendable level, at least as compared to its peers?

          • Zoning Victim

            Yes, the county does a great job with the budget. I don’t think the county’s ability to budget correctly has ever been in question (though I’m still not a fan of any deficit spending); what it spends money on is a very different topic than how well it manages it’s finances.

      • The Taxed Man

        Answer to Josh S.:
        Yes, Va counties may maintain a reserve for contingencies (and capital improvements) in the annual budget.
        Va. Code sections 58.1-3011 and 15.2-2506

    • Bluemontsince1961

      It sure seems that way, Tom.

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