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Board Approves $2.4 Billion Capital Improvement Plan

by Katie Pyzyk — July 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm 2,357 40 Comments

The Arlington County Board approved a 10-year, $2.4 billion Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at its meeting on Saturday (July 21). The money will go toward a variety of projects ranging from building new schools to a new aquatics center to investing in streetcar plans.

“This CIP is both a financially sustainable plan that strikes a balance between maintaining our existing infrastructure and making strategic investments that will meet the needs of our growing community, and a vision for the future,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “Our sound, forward-looking financial plan will help maintain the County’s triple-Aaa bond ratings.”

One area receiving a funding boost is infrastructure, including nearly $13.2 million for repaving many of the county’s roads. While residents report being pleased overall with the county’s services, according to the 2012 Resident Satisfaction Survey, street maintenance is a category listed as needing much improvement.

“Our streets, parks, facilities, water system and technology all need on-going maintenance and upgrades if we are to continue to provide the high-quality services that our community expects and that attract employers and visitors to Arlington,” Hynes said.

The bulk of the CIP is funded through general obligation bonds, which will be put to voters on the November 6 ballot. There will be four referenda totaling more than $153 million, in the categories of Metro and Transportation, Local Parks and Recreation, Community Infrastructure and Arlington Public Schools.

A significant portion of the allotted money in the parks referendum – $42.5 million – would go toward the construction of an aquatics facility at Long Bridge Park.

The Columbia Pike streetcar would also get funding under the CIP, pending tonight’s County Board vote on approving the streetcar plan. Because the bulk for the $250 million streetcar project would be funded through means other than bonds, it is not included in a referendum. Arlington will be responsible for 80 percent of project costs, while Fairfax County will be on the hook for the other 20 percent. Of Arlington’s $200 million tab, the county hopes to obtain $92.7 million in federal and state funding.

“The Board also believes, after years of conversation with the community, that strategic investments in our transit system and our recreational opportunities – providing a streetcar system and an aquatics and recreation facility at Long Bridge Park — will well serve generations of Arlingtonians to come,” Hynes said.

The board voted to amend the CIP to accelerate phase three of the Long Bridge Park project, which includes building a playground at the park. An amendment would reallocate $1.4 million for the playground, which was originally slated to be part of the 2016 planned bond referendum. Board member Walter Tejada was the lone dissenter, questioning why the money would be put toward a playground instead of a facility he says many people have asked him about — an indoor soccer facility.

“There’s an objection on the part of thousands of Arlingtonians, that our plans still don’t address all the aspirations that people have expressed. In particular in the case of indoor soccer,” Tejada said. “I would say that this language falls short and for those reasons I’m not going to support it.”

Hynes countered that the playground holds a far smaller price tag than an indoor soccer facility would, making it easier to fund.

“There are many aspirations in this community by many people. This is about whether we can accelerate a very small, relatively inexpensive thing to meet a need,” said Hynes. “A brand new building for indoor soccer is an $80 million expenditure. To rearrange this ten year plan to accommodate that would require us to make other priority choices.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the CIP, which covers FY 2013-2022. The move from a six-year to a 10-year plan is intended to allow for better planning and financing of multi-year projects. The CIP will be updated every two years.

  • T:GEOA

    That’s a shocker

  • TJLinBallston

    That’s a park?

  • Newly Minted Hynes Supporter

    I gotta say, I was concerned with Hynes being Chair at first. If she would be able to fight back the competing egos on the Board. As of late, she seems to be emerging as an honest broker and an elected official that relies on common sense and intuition.

    I’d like to see her in charge again next year.

    Way to go Mary!

    • Elmer

      So where was she when the board voted themselves a pay raise in this fiscal year’s budget and gave us a tax increase-a pay raise which more than covered the tax increase they gave the rest of us peons?

      That’s leadership?

      • South Awwlington

        The private sector reissued promotions and merit increases well at least two years ago, if not three. Do you think public servants are not deserving of some show a gratitude?

        Or perhaps we starve them out?

        Is that the intended goal? If you are volunteering to give up your time for free, I am sure you could get elected.

        • Elmer

          Pardon me , They make over $50,000.00 plus expenses for a part time job and get a full time assistant to boot. Starving? I think not.
          I also seem to recall that an elected top leader of the nation recently called on all citizens for “shared sacrifice”. Where ‘s the sacrfice when those who with power to compel taxes by the public that elects them exempt themslves from the effect of those taxes by giving themselves a more than off-setting raise??
          Is that leadership? Is that shared sacrifice?
          Some would dare call it what it is: Arrogance.

          • Ivy

            This “part-time” job isn’t exactly like working retail. They have to put up with people picking apart every tiny thing you do 24/7/365. If it’s such easy money, why don’t you do it?

          • 1RLI

            Easy fix…if they don’t want the hassle of “people picking apart every tiny thing [they] do”, don’t actively pursue the job. Giving themselves a salary increase while voting to increase taxes is indeed arrogance. At the very least, the salary increase should have been deferred until after the next round of elections.

      • Me ke

        Elmer…. Gotta say….I think all in all the county board does a fantastic job…if they get a pay raise as a result…I am fine with it….Take time to meet these folks and you will see that they work extremely hard even if you don’t agree with their policies all the time (which I don’t)

        • Elmer

          So what makes you think I didn’t “…meet these folks” ? Because I didn’t come away one of their one party rule worshipping sycophants?
          Easy to see why there is no accountable on the part of the members of this board.

          • Josh S

            Other than regular elections, what kind of “accountable” were you looking for?

  • JohnB

    Ding ding ding goes the trolley!

    • dk (not DK)

      It’s the bell that goes ding. The trolley goes clang.

      • JohnB

        Thanks!

  • Elmer

    My favorite to come out of that CIP discussion was the explaination as reported in the Wash Post by county manager that the $1.4 million dollar playground is needed at Long Bridge Park because parents are complaining that while the older ones are playing soccer, their siblings have nothing to do!

    Wow! 1.2 million dollars could buy a lot of babysitting service for these oh so oppressed parents.

    Wonder how how my younger siblings and my parents survived when I was playing baseball and they had to watch from the sidelines with no additional taxpayer funded diversions to keep them entertained?

    What a bunch of whimps!

    • SoArl

      Yeah, that kind of floored me – And I have a kid. Obviously, I have to gain a sense of entitlement if I want to be a real Arlington parent!

  • MarceyRd

    No more borrowing by the government. Budget reductions and paygo from now on.

    Voting against all the borrowing and bonds. Can’t keep borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars every other year.

    • Josh S

      Why?

    • Patrick

      Welcome to the party but I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

  • T:GEOA

    Give Mary props. At least she didn’t wear her wizarding robes today.

    • Josh S

      We can only hope her people read the ARLnow comments…..

      • Elmer

        By all means…please read my comment above Mary.
        RE: Your giving yourself a pay raise while giving us a tax increase.

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    As of this moment, there are more than 150 people without power in Arlington due to . . . “tree on line.”

    Nah, let’s not underground lines.

  • GC2

    I would love to see the FICO scores of all these public officials who keep on voting for more debt. Unfortunately, Arlington voters keep eating it up – please forgive them for they do not understand basic economics. As a 821 FICO (just finished refinancing) I simply do not understand how any government continues to pile on the public debt – public utility infrastructure is one thing, but these vanity projects are driving me nuts. Wait until the economy stabilizes and then see where we are. I’m afraid we will be headed down the same bankruptcy road several delusional California towns went down f the County does not restrain itself.

    • Josh S

      If you think Arlington County is anywhere close to Modesto, et al, you have a very poor grasp of finance.

  • John Fontain

    The County Board knows full well that residents don’t have the balls to vote against these debt issuances.

    • Joan Fountain

      Or else the majority of residents support the projects the bonds will pay for.

      • PaulB

        But another source is reporting that most of the Arlington voters have Alzheimer’s.

        • dk (not DK)

          I would comment but I forgot what I was going to say.

      • http://reason.com/archives/2012/07/20/california-goes-bankrupt GreaterClarendon

        Just because the citizenry will support it, does not make it a smart move: One California city after another becomes insolvent as the state’s economic crisis worsens. http://reason.com/archives/2012/07/20/california-goes-bankrupt

      • taxpayer

        They would if the bonds were worded different.

    • Josh S

      Cause it takes bravery to vote against things you want?

  • Shuwanda Jones

    …and Mary think she look cute approvin that trolley…smh.

  • When is 1.5 greater than 100

    When you want to put a bond up for referendum in Arlington.

    The CB put the 1.5 million dollar dog park up for referrendum but won’t put the 100 million plus trolley car up for a vote.

    Does anyone realize that 100+ million of this project is going to come out of general revenue. Or were previous bond referendums inherent lies on what hey were going to cover?

    • Mary-Austin

      Hate to break it to you but it’s going to cost way more than $100 million for us.
      Federal funding hasn’t even been applied for yet and is no guarantee. Just look at how things are being run in Washington now with the budgeting process.

  • Kim Un Arl

    The drunken beer pong bandits have struck again — this time for $2.4 billion.

  • linda

    Looks like it is time to vote NO to a bond issue this fall. Kid park – traffic clogging trolley – where’s affortable housing assistance?

    • Greg

      Or how about they just lower taxes?

  • Set the controls

    Can any missive from the county board ever leave out the “bond rating?” I know it’s important but it’s also propaganda at this point.

  • wingeds

    If this is part of a bond vote, they will bury the item deep in the item’s language so most voters won’t even know what they are voting yes for. Please vote this county board out of office.

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