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by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm 1,344 25 Comments

Dr. Patrick Murphy presents his proposed school budget to reporters(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy’s recommended FY 2014 budget would keep class sizes steady, would add new school buses and would provide for merit pay increases for school employees, despite a $23.5 million budget shortfall.

Murphy formally unveiled his budget Thursday night at a budget work session with the School Board.

To help close the gap, Murphy’s budget takes advantage of $20.2 million worth of surplus and reserve funds from previous years, and “efficiencies” in custodial staffing, the teen parenting program and gifted teachers, among other programs.

In all, $411.1 million of the $520.4 million budget comes from county tax revenue. Aside from the $20.2 million “carry forward” and $17.6 million in fees, the rest — about 13.3 percent of the budget — comes from federal and state sources.

The budget allocates an additional $10 million in staffing, materials and facilities costs for the nearly 1,000 additional students expected to be enrolled next year. That includes $1.9 million for new trailer classrooms.

The budget also provides $7.2 million for merit-based raises for teachers and other employees. Of that, about $446,000  will come from the state, under a plan to supposedly provide 2 percent raises for Virginia teachers. Of those staff members receiving raises, the increase in pay will average about 3 percent, APS said in a budget briefing for the media.

By maintaining the current class size levels while accounting for the rapid enrollment growth, Murphy says the budget fulfills the school system’s goal of putting students first.

“This budget is a prudent and targeted effort to maintain APS quality and the education that our community values,” Murphy said in a statement. “This budget firmly commits to our students by maintaining current class sizes and to our staff by including a compensation increase, the first step increase in two years.”

APS plans to purchase and staff 6 additional school buses this year. That should prevent another round of controversial bus service adjustment.

The budget also provides for a full-time residency verification specialist. Murphy also proposed the position last year, but it did not make it into the School Board’s final budget. Currently, APS only employs a part-time residency verification specialist for the entire 22,613 student school system.

Murphy said a full-time residency verification specialist could help identify students who are attending Arlington Public Schools but whose parents don’t live here.

“With the growing enrollment we have, we need to make sure we’re serving our kids here in Arlington,” he said. “I think there’s a concern that people are attracted to Arlington Public Schools. We need to monitor that.”

Other additions in this year’s budget include a new security coordinator, technology upgrades, athletic trainer who specialize in concussion management, and dropout prevention coordinators.

The “efficiencies and reductions” — including cuts in custodians, high school gifted teachers, the teen parenting program, and administration — will eliminate 61 positions and save $7.8 million. With the school system continuing to grow and hire — some 300 teachers were hired last year — Murphy says those impacted by the cuts will be reassigned elsewhere in APS, not laid off.

With Murphy’s proposed budget, the per-pupil cost in Arlington will rise from $18,675 to $18,709, although that could drop to $18,405 if the School Board elects not to use one if its reserve funds.

The School Board will adopt the final FY 2014 budget on May 2. Between now and then, APS will hold a number of budget work session and public hearings.

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm 583 0

Searching for a new place to call home? Start March off right with a few of these open houses this weekend in Arlington.

See our real estate section for a full listing of open houses. Here are a few highlights:

4523 28th Road South 4523 28th Road South
1 BD | 1 BA condominium
Peggy Parker, Keller Williams Realty
Listed: $225,000
Open: Sunday, March 3 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

660 Illinois Street South1805 Crystal Drive
3 BD | 2 BA condominium
David Salmon, Re/max Allegiance
Listed: $599,000
Open: Sunday, March 3 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

660 Illinois Street South
4 BD | 3 Full, 1 Half BA single family detached
Alexander Osborne, Century 21 New Millennium
Listed: $624,900
Open: Sunday, March 3 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

838 Glebe Road South838 Glebe Road South
5 BD | 4 Full, 1 Half BA single family detached
Tonya Finlay,Neighborhood Real Estate, Llc.
Listed: $969,000
Open: Sunday, March 3 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

3118 2nd Street North3118 2nd Street North
4 BD | 3 BA single family detached
Ronald Cathell, Keller Williams Realty
Listed: $1,075,000
Open: Sunday, March 3 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm 1,369 74 Comments

Morris Umansky (photo courtesy ACPD)For the second time in as many months, an Arlington man has been arrested for allegedly masturbating in the sauna of a local health club.

Police were at the LA Fitness club on the 3500 block of S. Clark Street in Crystal City Thursday morning, investigating a separate incident, when a gym user approached officers to tell them about a man he saw masturbating in the public sauna, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

Police subsequently arrested 65-year-old Morris Umansky. Officers didn’t actually witness the act and Umansky, the owner of a local hair salon, claimed that he was grooming himself, not pleasuring himself, according to police.

Umansky was charged with indecent exposure and released on an unsecured bond. The Arlington resident was also arrested in late December and accused of masturbating in the same sauna.

The gym had not yet revoked his membership because they were awaiting a verdict in Umansky’s original case, Sternbeck said.

Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm 1,266 23 Comments

McDonald's logoThe underground McDonald’s in Crystal City has closed and will eventually be replaced with art studios.

The restaurant, at 2155 Crystal Square Arcade, was not visible from the outside; it was entirely inside the underground Crystal City Shops, and thus got most of its business from lunch-goers who work in the area. The closure comes as Crystal City faces higher office vacancies and fewer workers as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). As of January, almost 20 percent of Crystal City’s 12.5 million square feet of office space was vacant.

The McDonald’s space is expected to be used as art studio space as part of the Crystal City Business Improvement District’s new “Art Underground” initiative. The project, set to launch on March 16, is intended to transform “five blocks of Crystal City’s interior retail space into a vibrant arts and cultural destination with galleries, studios, interactive exhibits and activities, performance and classroom spaces, and a host of special events.”

The space will be run by the Arlington Artists Alliance and will be open to local artists who are looking for a space “to create, practice and showcase their talents.”

“We’re extremely excited to transform the underground in a way that we think is active and fresh, and really activates the retail space and gives people a reason to come to Crystal City,” said BID president Angela Fox.

Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm 709 12 Comments

Your Beermonger logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)

There are days where you roll out of bed just knowing you’re going to get into trouble somehow. You’re not spoiling for a fight, but one’s coming regardless so you know you better sharpen up.

There has been a groundswell of discussion regarding the new Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada collaboration Rhizing Bines, which is billed as an “East-meets-West” IPA, and with the weekend coming where I’ll finally have enough on hand to sample it out to my customers at Arrowine it’s probably time for me to make my case on its behalf. I say this because while many out there have had their preconceptions and expectations disappointed by Rhizing Bines, I feel that most are needlessly tearing down what we’ll look back on as one of the best new beers of 2013.

Rhizing BinesWhen these two big-name craft brewers first got together to develop a beer, the result was something completely new and different. 2009’s Life & Limb hit the market and was immediately hailed as a triumph. While there were of course outliers who didn’t take to the beer along with those who fell in love with it, the general consensus was that Dogfish and Sierra Nevada had succeeded with their dark, malty Ale with its sweet tones and rich palate. These two titans of hoppy Pale Ales and IPAs took a chance by giving eager fans something they would have never expected, and in doing so expanded the palates of beer geeks all over the country. A subsequent 2011 release was again met with raves; the success of the ’09 release caused the ’11 Life & Limb to be in short supply just about everywhere it was distributed.

As news started to leak that Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada were getting together again to create another new beer, the buzz began on forums and in stores all over the country. When the news came down that this new effort was to be an Imperial IPA, the hopheads rejoiced; words like finally, slam dunk, and no-brainer were bandied about, but this duo of craft brewers weren’t done taking chances.

In the spirit of their joint effort, Rhizing Bines was to be an IPA designed to unify America’s two predominant IPA styles: the super-piney, high acid-centric West Coast and the maltier, slightly fruiter style referred to as East Coast IPA. To that end both breweries contributed their proprietary yeast strains and opted for newer, less commonly-used hop varieties for Rhizing Bines—Bravo and the too-new-for-a-name Hop 644. The process by which Rhizing Bines was brewed was also a melding of the styles of the two breweries; the Bravo hops were added using the continuous hopping technique that made Dogfish Head famous in its 60, 90, and 120 Minute IPAs, while Hop 644 was used in one of Sierra Nevada’s torpedo devices which made a pit stop in Delaware on its way to Sierra’s new North Carolina brewery.

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by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 11:35 am 1,494 33 Comments

The former Eleventh Street Lounge in ClarendonClosed restaurants dominate the list of meals tax delinquencies in Arlington County. The latest list, from December, includes only 3 currently-open restaurants among the 23 that owe the county more than $10,000.

(Meals tax delinquencies are often accrued when restaurants collect a required tax on food from customers but then fail to pay the collected funds to Arlington County.)

The open restaurants on the list include Extra Virgin (4053 Campbell Avenue) in Shirlington, which has been gradually paying off its debt. The restaurant now owes the country $38,402.12, down from $54,568.51 one year prior. Also on the list is Monuments Restaurant (2480 S. Glebe Road), a restaurant in the Comfort Inn hotel on Glebe Road near I-395. Monuments owes $27,722.09 according to the list, which is published by the county treasurer’s office. Village Bistro (1723 Wilson Blvd), located between Rosslyn and Courthouse, is listed as owing $19,614.13.

Among closed restaurants, the former Bebo Trattoria owes $173,716.28, up from $167,366.79 last year due to interest. Bebo owner Roberto Donna is currently the chef at Al Dente restaurant in D.C., and is planning to helm a second restaurant in the District soon. By court order, he is paying the county $500 per month.

The second-highest meals tax debt to the county is $121,126.93, which is owed by the former Eleventh Street Lounge in Clarendon.

Christopher J. Sadowski, Arlington’s Deputy Treasurer for Litigation, says the county is trying to collect its debts, even from the owners of closed restaurants. He said the Treasurer’s Office has an “increased focus on and aggressiveness in collecting delinquent meals taxes.”

“Clearly, older debts are harder to collect, and the likelihood that assets and responsible parties can be located decreases the longer a business has been closed,” Sadowski said. “The Treasurer, however, does not give up on or forget about any delinquent account (though we do allocate our resources and efforts as appropriate). As evidence of that, we are now receiving payments from some long-closed restaurants near the top of the list for the first time in years due to recent collection efforts by this Office.”

“Now, do I think that despite our very best efforts, some of those delinquent accounts and dollars will go uncollected?” he continued. “In reality and unfortunately, yes.”

Sadowski said the county is also proactively trying to prevent other restaurants from falling behind on their meals tax payments.

“We do not allow restaurants to fall behind, or at least not very far behind, in remitting their meals tax payments,” he said.

The delinquency list (above $10,000), after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 10:00 am 90 Comments

Police investigate a bank robbery at the Bank of America at 3600 S. Glebe RoadProposed county budget cuts would mean fewer police officers available for neighborhood meetings and events and a reduction in “quality of life” community policing.

As we previously reported, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed FY 2014 includes the elimination of seven police officer positions by attrition. A new police memo details the potential impacts of those cuts.

“Until now, the Police Department has been able to make reductions without significantly affecting important programs,” says the memo. “That is no longer possible.”

The memo, which was written by three ACPD captains and sent to community groups, is below.

I wanted to share with you the latest news on the County’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, and how it will affect policing in Arlington.

As you may know, County Manager Barbara Donnellan recently presented her Proposed Budget to the County Board.  She explained that Arlington faces a $22 million budget gap, and proposed closing that gap with a mix of service cuts and a tax rate increase. All County departments have been asked to make cuts.

When asked to identify potential areas for reduction, the police department examined many potential options for reductions including:

  • Responding to calls for police service
  • Enforcement
  • Follow-up investigations

After evaluating potential options, the decision has been made to propose reductions in staffing levels to the current District Policing Teams.  I can assure you that we remain committed to working with the community to ensure that Arlington remains a great place to live, work and visit, but these staff reductions will impact the manner in which the teams currently do business.  We truly value our partnerships with the Arlington Community and will work diligently to continue these strong relationships.  Here are some details about the proposed reductions and how they will change the way we do community policing.

District Policing Team reductions

Twenty officers are currently assigned to the three District Policing Teams. The proposed reduction would ultimately trim that number to 13 sworn staff members. In addition, we will re-assign one captain position currently assigned to the District Teams to form an Operational Support Unit. The Operational Support Unit will be responsible for most of the ancillary duties currently assigned to the district captains and patrol commanders, allowing them to focus on core functions.  We will reorganize our District Policing in two phases.

Phase I

Should the Board accept the reductions as proposed, we will reorganize from three to two Community Policing Teams. These teams will still be geographically assigned.  The exact geographic boundaries have yet to be determined, but our initial plan is to use Route 50 as a dividing line. Any civic associations which exist on both sides of Arlington Boulevard would be assigned to one team, for consistency. In this phase, each team will have one captain, one sergeant, one corporal and three officers.

Phase II

Through attrition, the two teams will eventually be further consolidated to one large team. This single team will include one captain, two sergeants, two corporals and eight officers.  We anticipate that this phase will occur sometime in the next 18 months.

The positions eliminated from the current District Team configuration will be re-assigned to core function areas within the Department.

We realize that some in the community may be concerned about these proposed changes. As you know, communities across the nation have faced years of constrained budgets, the result of the financial crisis, subsequent recession and slow economic recovery. We in Arlington remain very fortunate – we have been able to preserve our core services. Until now, the Police Department has been able to make reductions without significantly affecting important programs. That is no longer possible.

We remain committed to continuing our community partnerships and community policing efforts.  While the staff reductions will certainly limit our ability to continue to provide community policing services at current levels, I can assure you that we will do our best to provide the community with the highest level of service possible.  Our initial assessment of areas where the community may realize a reduction in service from the community policing teams could include the following:

  • Fewer community, civic, business, security meetings/workgroups attended
  • Less participation in general and safety presentations
  • Less opportunity to participate in community events such as picnics, parades, etc.
  • Fewer staff to focus on quality of life issues in a specific community

We will work collaboratively to facilitate a smooth transition into this new structure, should it be adopted.  At this point, no decisions have been made regarding staff assignments, but should the County Board adopt the proposed reductions we will make assignments quickly and ensure that you are kept informed.

Hat tip to John Antonelli

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 9:15 am 632 11 Comments

Construction cranes over Clarendon

Wakefield, O’Connell Advance in Tournaments — In high school basketball news, last night the Wakefield Warriors defeated Mountain View 83-76 to advance to the state semifinals, to be played Monday night. Earlier this week the Bishop O’Connell Knights defeated St. John’s 58-53 to capture the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament championship. After a quarterfinal victory, DJO will now play in the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division I tournament semifinals tonight. [Washington Post, Sun Gazette]

Parents Upset With School Boundary Changes — At a meeting Wednesday night, numerous parents expressed displeasure with Arlington Public Schools’ proposed elementary boundary changes. The changes are necessary due to overcrowding and the upcoming addition of a new elementary school. [Patch]

County Event to Highlight Intellectual Disabilities — On Tuesday morning, Arlington County will hold an “awards program and proclamation ceremony establishing Including People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month as March 2013″ The county says it “is committed to empowering and supporting persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve healthy self-determined lifestyles through community-based education, living arrangements, employment, and other individualized support services.” [Arlington County]

Metro Seeks Input on Pershing-Rt 50 Bus Service — Metro will be holding two public meetings in Arlington next week to discuss potential improvements to the Metrobus 4A, B, E and H lines, also known as the Pershing Drive-Arlington Blvd line. [WMATA]

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