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The Right Note: Some People Just Can’t Help Themselves

by Mark Kelly — February 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm 1,096 123 Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column by published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

County Board members made it clear at the recent Arlington Civic Federation meeting that they were leery of cutting back on capital spending because they are getting such good deals on construction costs.

This reminds me of a shop-a-holic going hog wild with their credit card because they are getting so-called “good deals.” They come home and announce to a spouse, friend, or roommate, “I saved a lot of money today.”

In reality, they borrowed a lot of money today, probably on several things you didn’t really need now — or ever.

Our board’s shopping spree includes a lot of spending on plenty of unnecessary things:

  • The purchase and rehab of a new building for a homeless shelter at more than ten times the cost to retrofit the current shelter
  • An $80 million state-of-the-art aquatics center
  • A trolley that will cost five times more than a new and improved bus system
  • And, the black hole known as the Artisphere

The difference between the shopper who maxes out their credit card and our County Board is that the shopper cannot force their friends to pay for the spending spree. The board can just stick the taxpayers with the tab. This week, we learned that the County Manager is proposing a 3.2% real estate tax rate increase for this year.

We also discovered that the county will likely cut its workforce. It seems the County Manager, who was recently given a generous raise, is going to give out as many as twenty pink slips to county staff to match anticipated spending with projected revenue.

Year after year, our County Board has spent well over the rate of inflation and population growth and put our budget in this position. They are leery of even slowing down when it comes to capital projects.

Unfortunately, we have become a nation of debt. Our federal debt is over $16.5 trillion — over $52,000 for every man, woman, and child. Our personal debt is over $15.7 trillion. While it is primarily mortgage debt, credit card debt in the United States is nearly $850 billion. The average college graduate’s debt is over $26,500.

Our Arlington debt seems paltry by comparison — about $1 billion, or $5,000 for every Arlingtonian. However, it simply adds to the mounting legacy of debt we are creating for future generations.

I spoke at length with a Democratic neighbor while working at the polls in November. While he was not a fan of the trolley, he had this to say when I asked about adding as much as $250 million more in debt to pay for it: “Our county can handle the debt.”

This culture of growing debt may be our new normal, but should it be?

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

  • Hee-Haw

    very well said.

  • recent college grad

    Republicans are obsessed with the debt. Why? Interest rates are at an all time low. There is absolutely no, I repeat no, threat of ending up like Greece since we print our own money. Can we please have another government stimulus since the last one worked extremely well (all economists say it added jobs…all of them) but has worn off. When interest rates are low, resulting projects are Net Present Value positive. Right now we have a jobs crisis, not a debt crisis.

    • BBMS

      lol

    • Alex

      What do you base this theory on? Surely it isn’t our debt-to-GDP ratio, our overly indebted consumers or the fact that the most recent economic crisis was exacerbated by debt driven leveraged speculation in various derivatives and capital markets?

      • confused

        our debt to GDP ratio is bad in large part because our GDP is low because lack of demand keeps us below full employment.

      • speonjosh

        Just because the word “debt” appears in “debt driven leveraged speculation in various derivatives and capital markets” doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as governments running budget deficits.

    • Real World Is A “Special Case”

      and how many NEW jobs were actually added? and what is the cost per added job vs the income (and subsequent tax revenue) it will generate?

      P.S. when Federal govt “refinances” its debt in the future with new T-bill/T-note issues at higher interest rates (assuming economy eventually improves) the real debt load will be substantially more onerous.

    • Jon

      “When interest rates are low, resulting projects are Net Present Value positive.”

      Huh? That’s not true at all. I could spend $80 million digging and filling holes, and I’m rather certain that’s not “Net Present Value positive.” There are lots of projects that are not Net Present Value positive for any positive nominal interest rate. That’s why people are objecting to the spending spree.

      • confused

        that maybe so, but then the objection should be to the projects themselves, not the timing. A lot of what we hear, locally and nationally, is ‘we shouldn’t do this NOW when there’s all this debt” when in fact now is the optimal time for capital improvements.

        • speonjosh

          Shazam.

        • WeiQiang

          /\ this /\

        • speonjosh

          And also, when will there realistically NOT be all this debt? It’s gonna take a while. In the meantime, we’re not supposed to invest in anything? That is a crazy proposition. Even if you’re a dyed in the wool Norquistian, you have to realize that failing to improve the nation’s infrastructure, for example, is just dumb.

          • Fuzzy

            How about investing in capital projects that are actually needed instead the useless ones mentioned in the blog. Investments in schools and roads are good…the other stuff is a waste.

      • drax

        It was parody.

    • mickey_

      I would like to get the name of what you were smoking when you flopped your theory onto the table! Go back to Econ 101. Yep, we can print money indefinitely, but at some point, it becomes worthless! Then inflation! Go back into history and see what “Peanut Carter” gave us! Double digit inflation and double digit interest rates. The raising of interest rates and taxes is necessary to lower inflation………..go back to school!!

    • drax

      Va. Tech?

      • Recent college grad

        Uva but good try..I’m a hell of a lot smarter than your kids if you have any. I’m brilliant.

    • John Fontain

      recent college grad said: “There is absolutely no, I repeat no, threat of ending up like Greece since we print our own money.”

      Tell that to Venezuela.

      http://www.americasquarterly.org/content/venezuelan-currency-devaluation-goes-effect

      • Recent college grad

        There’s no sign of inflation and we, if you hadn’t noticed, had a decently long period of disinflation and at some points deflation. We could easily stand a couple years if above average inflation.

    • Bob

      This is what they teach at government schools.

  • Garrghh

    This guy is really awful- there are plenty of real conservatives around that aren’t nearly as abrasive, pandering or obtuse.

    • Hee-Haw

      Another month in the hole for calling me obtuse.

  • JimPB

    – It’s good financial sense to borrow and spend now for necessary capital projects (if not done now, they will have to be done later) when interest rates are so low and construction companies and workers are available and so are less expensive (it will be more costly to do such projects later).

    – The aquatics center, hugely expensive to build and then costly to operate and maintain, can be fairly challenged, BUT ire about proceeding with it should be directed at the voters of ArlCo, who approved the bond issue for its construction by a good majority.

    • occasionally a fact

      Worth bearing in mind that the $80 milliion for the aquatics and fitness center includes $20 million in private funds, and includes besides the building an additional 10 acres of park. Also, with a sound business plan its net operating cost will be low.

      • ACDC Hack

        ” Also, with a sound business plan its net operating cost will be low.”

        These are the same folks who brought us “Artisphere…The Building”.

        I wouldn’t bet the farm on that “sound business plan” happening.

      • Fail

        Worth bearing in mind that the Artisphere had a “Sound” business plan also. Turned out to be a complete failure, but it’s business plan was sound.

        • RWarren

          Not sure what kind of business plan the pool can have. People swim or they don’t. You can’t reconfigure the pool for new functions. I guess there might be some competition events they can try to attract. Not sure if those are revenue generating events for the host or not.

    • arlmom

      Because the idiots of Arlington voted “yes’ for ‘park services’…not realizing they were voted for an $80 million acquatic center. You don’t know how highly educated Arlington residents were shocked when I told them what they had actually voted for. They saw ‘parks and recreation’ and figured any spending for that is good, correct? They blindly voted for it because it wasnt’ spelled out on the ballot and nobody reads before voting locally they just vote ‘D”. GOD-IT DRIVES ME INSANE!

      • drax

        Then you should have, like, told them BEFORE they voted.

      • dk (not DK)

        I didn’t realize the ballot initiatives were running as representatives of political parties. So, you mean the parks and rec bond had a (D) next to “yes” and an (R) next to “no?”

        D and R didn’t have anything to do with it. People may or may not have voted blindly for the initiative, but it’s not because they just automatically voted “D.”

      • Mel22201

        If I remember correctly, the question was confusing. Luckily, I found some information which decoded what the question really meant before I voted. I sometimes get the impression that people vote blindly and just vote D, as if Republicans are the enemy. Republicans are not the enemy.

  • novasteve

    we can’t use busses in arlington because we are so sophisticated! we need to waste a lot more so we can pretend we are in europe! I will not be seen on a bus otherwise I will just drive around my leased BMW!

    • Marie Antoinette

      LoL! Folly Trolly because we want to be like a European city. C’est vrai!

    • dk (not DK)

      FYI:

      “busses” = kisses

      “buses” = vehicles

  • Yup I went there

    It’s only good financial sence to borrow money, when you can still afford the bill that you recieve. If we had a surplus in the budget I’d be all for some low interset loans for capitol projects.

    However, buying new because intrest rates are low even though you can’t make the monthly payments, doesn’t make any sense.

    • Real World Is A “Special Case”

      thumbs up!! just ask all those new home owners with their (low rate) interest-only for first year mortgage loans … who have since been foreclosed on!

  • It’s gotta stop

    In addition to voting out the Board in future elections, is there anything else constructive an Arlington resident can do today to help stop this insanity?

    • southarlington

      keep hounding them about the issues and how people really do not like the waste of money at the expense of the neighborhods Arlington is know for ….and then talk to all your friends and see if they feel the same way….keep on reminding them we vote them in ….

    • speonjosh

      I’d recommend meditation. It’s useful to stop believing what you think every now and then. (I.e., reality is a construct.)

    • drax

      Uh, contact the board members, and ask others to do the same. Show up at the budget hearings and speak. Start a demonstration outside county offices. You know, what people do other than whine on internet boards.

  • CW

    “the black hole known as the Artisphere”

    -Said with a straight face, from the party that brought you two trillion-dollar wars.

    • BBMS

      You know what’s really (not) funny? The economic impact around here of all that war spending is part of the boon that led to Arlington thinking it could afford Artisphere.

      The winding down of the wars is in no small part responsible for the predicament Arlington is finding itself in.

      I wish I could say that without a straight face, but it’s a disappointing fact.

      • CW

        You are a wise man for seeing the forest for the trees, and I respect that.

      • WeiQiang

        wait. what? war spending and defense spending are severable … look at the appropriations. other than lobbyists and neo-conservatives, war spending [O&S] affects the manufacturers of war goods. defense spending [RDT&E & Production] pays the salaries and operating costs of the bureaucracy that develops, acquires and manages the infrastructure around here. my Arlington home is paid for by defense spending, through my salary. BRAC affected occupancy [= tax revenues], not the two wars.

    • Alex

      Not to mention an enormous bailout for the financial industry that allowed it to paper over fraud with more fraud. But, it’s not as if the Democrats have done a superior job managing the country’s budget either.

    • Ummm

      Wait, I thought this story was about Arlington County, and more specifically, the Arlington County Board’s budget decisions regarding Arlington County’s fiscal issues. But you couldn’t be expected to know that.

      • CW

        Well, I simply made a commentary about how a certain pot might have been calling a kettle black. That is, that I find it ironic that we’re being lectured on a small amount of wasteful spending from someone who was likely all gung-ho about throwing a couple trillion down the drain.

        But right, the fact that I am able to make abstractions of topics beyond the stated subject matter implies that I am incapable of understanding things written on a page before me. Carry on.

        • John Fontain

          CW, by using Republican war spending as a retort to Mr. Kelly’s position on County spending, you are essentially making a “two wrongs make a right” position. You can do better. Discuss the issue at hand.

          • drax

            I agree, that comment was downright novasteveian.

          • CW

            I can see your angle on what I said, but that’s not the approach I was going for. I wasn’t trying for a schoolyard tit-for-tat. What I was pointing out instead was this. The individual writing this article is, by virtue of what he is doing, attempting to express some sort of “expert” opinion on a subject. The value of “expert” opinions can be judged by the track record and past performance of that individual. In this case, we have someone who does not practice what he preaches. He lectures about wasteful spending but is clearly in favor of much larger wasteful spending practices. That make his opinion, in my mind, invalid. That’s all I was pointing out.

            This is just one example of the hypocrisy of many of these types. They refer to a general disdain for “waste”, etc. – but in actuality they only dislike it when it’s not lining the pockets of them or their cronies.

          • John Fontain

            Ok, and believe me I’m right there with you on being troubled by how many trillions of dollars we’ve wasted waging somewhat needless wars.

    • novasteve

      So why did Obama run in 2008 on stepping up the Afghanistan war?

      • WeiQiang

        to distract us from all the spending that was dumped in to the Artisphere

      • drax

        Because once you’re in a war, you can’t just leave.

    • Arlingtonian

      +1

  • Anne

    I really don’t see how this is true: “The purchase and rehab of a new building for a homeless shelter at more than ten times the cost to retrofit the current shelter.” That would be true if the new building were only “for a homeless shelter,” but it will consolidate county government offices in addition to relocating the homeless shelter.

    “The 2020 14th Street N. building will help meet County government office space needs in the Courthouse area, in addition to establishing the Homeless Services Center. The current shelter location simply does not offer the same opportunity for cost-effective consolidation of County government functions in one building.” (http://www.arlingtonva.us/portals/topics/page86014.aspx)

    • CW

      This is just an example of conveniently leaving out facts and distorting numbers. Politicans on all sides do it all the time. $40 million homeless shelter (even though the vast majority isn’t a homeless shelter), $250 million streetcar (even though less than half would be paid by Arlington), etc.

      Question though – if I bought a $500k condo in a 100-unit building, would they say I lived in a $50 million house? Because that would be awesome!

      • Anne

        Thank you. The “homeless shelter” discussion is a particular pet peeve of mine!

        • BBMS

          Complaining about the capital costs of these projects just looks good because it gets the big numbers out there.

          BUT…. the real impacts come in operating costs (this is specifically discussed by the manager regarding various projects like Arlington Mill), and the debt service is no small number to forget.

          The pain these large projects put on the budget come in the form of the never-ending annual operating costs, and partially from debt service. They are not insignificant sums by themselves.

      • John Fontain

        I admittedly don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I remember seeing a reasonable allocation of the purchase price on a square footage basis. This cost, when combined with the renovation costs, was still very high compared to renovating the existing shelter.

        • John Fontain

          Ah, here are some numbers I crunched a few months back on this.

          http://www.arlnow.com/2012/11/19/board-approves-purchase-of-property-for-homeless-shelter/#comment-273566

          The shelter portion will cost the county about $13.7 million prior to annual operating costs. I can’t image it would cost anywhere near that to renovate the existing shelter.

          But even putting that aside, let’s face it: the only reason the county bought that property was to move the shelter there. So the entire expenditure (for the whole building) could have been avoided.

          • Anne

            The only reason the county bought the property? Again, considering that the homeless shelter is small part of the building, I don’t see how that is true. Do you have any facts to cite on that?

            Buying the building seems to be something that was in the works for a long time, as the county was looking to acquire additional office space in the Courthouse area to keep county government functions centrally located.

            Would you be complaining about costs if the county had decided to purchase this building for all of the other stated purposes, and decided to renovate the current shelter on top of that instead of deciding to co-locate them?

          • John Fontain

            Anne – I have trouble buying the argument that we need more office space when the county is – at the exact same time – talking about cutting staffing.

          • CW

            John, I’m too lazy to dig up the article right now but my understanding was that this was not an office space expansion, in terms of net square footage, but that it was a consolidation and that the old buildings that the County is currently in would be liquidated – likely to developers and for no small sum of money.

  • JimPB

    Specific Example One — “The purchase and rehab of a new building for a homeless shelter at more than ten times the cost to retrofit the current shelter.” Question: What is the basis for this assertion? Belief? Cost estimates of qualified contractors?

    Specific Example Two — “An $80 million state-of-the-art aquatics center.” Observation: A solid majority of ArlCo voters (incidentally, not me) approved the bond issue for this center. Direct your criticism at ArlCo voters.

    Specific Example Three — “A trolley that will cost five times more than a new and improved bus system.” Question: What is the basis for this assertion? Belief? Estimates by qualified persons/entitites?

    Specific Example Four — “…the black hole known as the Artisphere.” Question: What exactly has the Artisphere cost the ArlCo taxpayer in capital outlays? annual operating support? (In dollar amounts by year and as a proportion of the capital and operating budgets, please.)

    • BBMS

      I’m not going to hold your hand on all four questions, you’re an adult and should be able to do your own research.

      But this very website (that you frequent) has done an outstanding job of giving very exact figures on the Artisphere’s revenue shortfalls and expense overruns.

      Look. It. Up.

      • JimPB

        BBMS: I’m not a critic. The critics should be responsible adults and do their homework before critiquing — and share their homework so we know the basis for their criticisms and can assess it

      • drax

        Here’s how I deal with people who fail to back up their claims by saying “do your own research:”

        Okay. I did. And I found out that everything you said is completely wrong.

        Don’t agree? You want me to show you my research? Nope. Do your own, like you said.

        Now you’re back where you started, and now you know why you have to back up your own arguments instead of lazily asserting something as true and expecting everyone to believe it without evidence.

    • vc

      From Arlington County 2012 Budget:

      ” Artisphere’s model is one that is supported in large part by local tax dollars; net tax support in FY2012 totaled $2.3 million, “

  • http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-01-30/local/36646938_1_county-executive-county-budget-budget-gap $$$$$

    Lets not forget the raises Barbra Donnellan and others gave themselves in the last 45 seconds of the Jan 29th meeting.

    • JimPB

      the ARLCo voted those raises.

      • JimPB

        Woops. The ARLCo board voted those raises.

  • mickey_

    I make a salary, I balance my checkbook based on my salary. No one can go to their boss and demand that their boss increases their salary so they can buy a new car or house when they already have a house and car…….do the math county commissioners and manager! WE can do the math! Say NO to a tax increase.

    • novasteve

      Liberalism is about generosity, with other people’s money.

      • WeiQiang

        so, how is that defense [and other] executives’ pay has risen at a rate in the multiples more than that of their employees?

        • novasteve

          Wei, let me know when a corporation uses public dollars to do that. Thanks.

          • goldman suchs

            Goldman Sachs, AIG,Citigroup, Bank of America,…..to name but a few
            Thanks.

          • GoldmanSSuchs

            AIG, Golman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America to name but a few. Many companies receive a whole range of other kinds of subsidies and comanies like Haiilburton could not live without the public teat on which to gorge.

          • novasteve

            How are you defining “subsidies”? If you take a mortgage interest deduction are you getting a “subsidy”?

          • drax

            Yes, a mortgage deduction is a subisidy.

          • novasteve

            How is a mortgage interest deduction a subsidy? How is paying less taxes a subsidy when a subsidy is define as other people’s money being used to pay for your item of interest? Do you know what the word means?

            : a grant or gift of money: as

            a: a sum of money formerly granted by the British Parliament to the crown and raised by special taxation

            b: money granted by one state to another

            c: a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public

            Now how is paying less money in taxes a “subsidy”? The EIC is a subsidy. Having your tax rate reduced due to a deduction is NOT a subsidy.

          • drax

            If you and I split a pizza, and I pay $10 but you only pay $5, I subsidized your pizza, steve.

          • novasteve

            “If you and I split a pizza, and I pay $10 but you only pay $5, I subsidized your pizza, steve.”

            That’s not what a tax deduction does, drax. That’s like saying that if the pizza store decided to sell you that $10 pizza for $5, then they subsidized you. You in fact got a discount. A subsidy is like when the government gives money to farmers to grown corn. If the government instead decided to tax corn farmers less, then it wouldn’t be a subsidy, but an incentive, like they do with the home mortgage interest deduction. But its still not a subsidy.

      • Babs

        George Bush is a liberal for passing the cost of two wars to my grandchild and their grandchildren?

        • OverArlington

          How’s that different then Clinton taking money out of SS to pay down the debt (for a short time people) forcing the problem to my generation so that I’ll never see money from the SS system I’m putting into? How’s that any different then Obama giving my hard earned money to illegals and to folks that don’t work? Stop blaming Republicans for all of your problems.

      • Bob

        Worse, it’s to use the force of government to forcibly take other people’s money. It’s involuntary servitude.

  • speonjosh

    A few stretches to fit his point.

    The building being purchased in Courthouse will also house county government offices as well as a homeless shelter, so comparing the cost to rehabbing the existing shelter is a bit of apples and oranges.

    The streetcar may cost more than “a new and improved bus system” (whatever that is), but Arlington will not pay the entire tab. And certainly there are benefits to investing in transportation infrastructure. Would he make the same argument against adding roads, I wonder?

    “The board can just stick the taxpayer with the tab.” As if this is something different? The taxpayer always has the tab. There is no “sticking.”

    He brings up pink slips as if reducing the government workforce hasn’t been number one on the Republican platform for years. You can’t have it both ways. You either want a smaller government or you don’t.

    • novasteve

      I not only pay state income tax, but federal income tax, so that money from elsewhere also gets paid by us, plus other taxpayers.

  • Mc

    More sloppy logic from Mark. He compares credit card consumption with capital investments that make this place more desireable to live and help boost real estate tax revenues.

  • NoVapologist

    A couple of months ago the NY Times ran a piece on my hometown, Montclair, NJ. It was a wonderful place full of highly educated, progressive people. The town worked hard to give its citizens the best schools, parks, police, etc… Last year they raised the personal property (real estate) tax to 3.25% and they are still running deficits. This is your future Arlington.

    • novasteve

      Ah, Montclair. Some family member of mine decided to, without consent of the rest of us, to donate the family art collection to Montclair State university, a priceless collection. that was a great time. Sure it was mideval christian art and we are Jews, but just the rent of one of them for a few years would have paid off my student loans.. ugh.

      • The Rabbi

        adoption does not count.

      • drax

        You should have sued, steve!

  • Josh

    I concur! Spending out of control on the named items and waste of tax revenue.

  • Fairlington

    Enough is enough. Why do the voters of Arlington continually vote to put these people into office. The joke’s on us, that’s for sure.

    • Mel22201

      That’s what I want to know. I really don’t understand why Arlingtonians keep voting for “these people.”

  • amber waves

    The last few years, the budget has increased 3 to 5% a year. not much more than inflation and population growth. and remember that population growth among young children has exploded with 4% annual growth rates. Our schools (half the budget) have been hammered. in fact budget growth recently has been modest. I wish we had grown faster budgets. Our road maintenance is behind schedule. Our employees have been underpaid, We should be offering universal pre-k education to at least all 4 year olds….

    • Hollywood

      No, we shouldn’t. We can’t afford it.

      I wish we had grown faster budgets. Our road maintenance is behind schedule.

      Are you suggesting that they don’t have enough money to do routine road maintenance? Maybe if they stop spending on things that are superfluous and focused instead on basic county functions this would be less of a problem. Close the Artisphere, cancel the homeless shelter and the trolley and we no longer have a deficit, in fact, we would turn out a surplus that could be put to things like roads.

      • Bob

        “Can’t afford it” isn’t the right answer. The right answer is that it’s morally corrupt to use the force of government to take money from those without kids to subsidize those with kids.

      • Bob

        “can’t afford it” isn’t the right answer. The right answer is that it’s morally corrupt to use the force of government to take from those without kids and force them to subsidize those with kids.

        • drax

          Bob, if that’s morally corrupt, then all taxation, or at least all except a flat-fee tax, is morally corrupt.

          • Ricardo

            By George, I think he’s starting to get it!

          • drax

            So all taxes are morally corrupt!

            Take that an RUN with it, Ricardo. Run like the wind! It can’t fail!

    • bob

      Pay for your own kids.

      • drax

        So no public schools either?

        Did it ever occur to you that you benefit from other people having kids?

      • jackson

        You were up late ranting about other people’s children. Somebody step in your yard, grumpy?

  • FedUp

    The federal government has set a very bad precedent and example for local and state governments all over our nation. Every single city seems they want to be a little mini-federal government just like in DC. Tax more, so they can spend more. It’s never their fault; government cannot ever be too big in their warped mindsets.

  • http://www.TerronSims.com Terron Sims, II

    Arlington County (overt) spending is not the real issue. The real issue is its (overt) spending coupled with raising property taxes and laying off county employees in order to balance the budget. The latter actions make the (overt) spending irresponsible [to so many of us]. The county board has neither properly explained the overall benefit of its actions nor its strategic plan for said actions…because there is no strategic plan. Arlington County functions on a year-to-year basis. Acting as so is conducive when the economy is good, but is destined to fail when the economy is bad.

    • drax

      This is why we need to resist tax CUTS in good years, so that we don’t need tax increases in bad ones.

      • DCBuff

        Wrong. The issue is not tax cuts, which are related to the tax rate, but revenue. Tax rates can be cut in “good years” while maintaining revenue streams. Then, in “bad” years, which would theoretically coincide with lower property values, tax rates would increase, maintaining revenue streams while not actually increasing taxes.

        • drax

          What I mean, DCBuff, is that we tend to cut taxes so low in good years that we don’t make a surplus that will keep us afloat in the bad years.

          Kinda like when Bush came along and wiped out Clinton’s surpluses.

        • drax

          Oh, and your scheme doesn’t work very well. Why not just keep taxes steady? Why cut them in good years? We need tax cuts in bad years, to stimulate the economy and give taxpayers a break.

  • jobsvscapitol

    I object to cutting jobs and giving the county manager and others a raise. i also object to lsoing jobs but spending the money on capitol projects

    • drax

      capitAl

  • Abe Froman

    The county’s spending is completely out of control. However, your inclusion of Artisphere is just flat out grandstanding and pandering to the angry masses, sort of how our free spending naked emperor does. While impossible to quantify the costs of something like Artisphere, its a single digit percentage of the costs of any one of these other unnecessary boondoggles that you cite.

    • WLO

      I don’t know, judging by the manager’s comments and their funding approach to Artisphere in FY14, it looks like they are looking at it closer then before in terms of reducing its burden to the budget.

      Like someone said previously, virtually everything is on the table to try and close the deficit.

  • ArlingtonNative

    I would like to see more long-range planning, and an effort to create a contingency reserve for taking care of Arlington’s most vulnerable–people with disabilities, and the homeless. Arlington does well in this regard, but the burden is increasingly placed on the faith community, individual families, and care providers making $11/hr. This county is so wealthy, yet our group homes in Arlington, and in fact, all of Northern Virginia are completely full. We need to build capacity to provide community-based housing and services for the people coming out of the Northern Virginia Training Center. I see new million-dollar homes being built at Lacey Lane Subdivision. This county can afford to provide infrastructure for those in need.

  • WLO

    Did the dude who wrote the middle-of-the-road column just give up? Wouldn’t blame him.

  • Craigie

    If the Artisphere should close, so should community centers in every neighborhood of Arlington. Why should Rosslyn pay such a high percentage of the property taxes in Arlington yet have no taxpayer-funded amenities? Why should the Artisphere be expected to make a profit? Last time I checked, the County fitness centers charged an extremely-low monthly membership fee; surely they are “losing money.”

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