Caucus Date Set for Treasurer, School Board — Arlington Democrats will hold a caucus the evening of Monday, Aug. 4 to determine the party’s nominees in the special elections to replace Treasurer Frank O’Leary and School Board member Noah Simon. The caucus will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. [InsideNova]
Comeback for Crumbs? — The Crumbs store in Clarendon and across the country closed this week, but could a comeback for the cupcake company be imminent? A group of investors is planning to provide financing for the bankrupt Crumbs Bakeshop Inc., and that could revive some of the company’s stores. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Art Festival to Return — The “Arlington Festival of the Arts” will return for a second year in Clarendon. The art festival is scheduled to take over part of N. Highland Street for two days on the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 20. [ArtFestival.com]
Last Day for Cheaper Tickets to ARLive — After today, tickets to the upcoming ARLive Startup Smackdown will increase from $15 to $20. The event — which is being held after work on Tuesday, July 22 — will pit about 20 Arlington-based startups against each other in a bid to collect the biggest “investment” from attendees, who will be given play money to dole out to their favorites. Beer, wine and food are included in the price of admission. [nVite]
Arlington Man’s Death Ruled a Homicide — The death of Arlington resident Michael Hrizuk in D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood has been ruled a homicide. Hrizuk, 57, died of a “blunt impact head injury” during a reported assault. [Washington Post]
De la Pava Takes Over As Treasurer — After more than 30 years in office, Frank O’Leary stepped down as Arlington County Treasurer Monday. Stepping up to replace him is his chief deputy, Carla de la Pava, who was sworn in to serve as treasurer in a ceremony at county government headquarters. De la Pava is so far unopposed in an upcoming special election that would allow her to continue serving out O’Leary’s term, which runs through Dec. 2015. [InsideNova]
TDM Is the ‘Secret to Arlington’s Success’ — The man who heads Arlington County Commuter Services, the county’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) agency, says TDM is the “secret to Arlington’s success.” Commuter Services Bureau Chief Chris Hamilton says ACCS programs like BikeArlington, WalkArlington, The Commuter Store and the Car-Free Diet campaign have helped to keep cars off the street even as Arlington’s population has grown. [Mobility Lab]
‘Orange Line Disaster’ at Courthouse — The Orange Line was a “disaster” at the Courthouse Metro station this morning, commuters reported via Twitter. According to various reports, delays started when a train with a door problem offloaded at Courthouse. Passengers crowded onto the platform at the station, which was reportedly un-air-conditioned. At some point, a passenger on a train fainted, prompting that train to hold at the station while medical personnel responded.
Photo courtesy James Mahony
Those who park in Arlington will soon be able to skip the parking meters and pay directly with their smartphone, Arlington County will announce this afternoon.
Arlington will utilize Parkmobile, the same smartphone parking system currently in use by the District of Columbia, allowing smartphone users to use a single app to park in Arlington and the District. Parkmobile is available for iPhone, Android, Windows 7 and Blackberry devices. It utilizes a stored credit card number to pay for parking.
Arlington will offer Parkmobile at all 5,329 metered spaces in the county, though the system will be rolled out in phases. Drivers will be able to use Parkmobile in Shirlington and Crystal City by late July, officials say. It is scheduled to be expanded to Pentagon City in the fall, Ballston and Clarendon in the winter, and all remaining areas — including Courthouse, Rosslyn and Columbia Pike — by spring 2015.
“Whether you use public transportation, bike, walk, or drive in and around Arlington County, we are committed to providing the best commuter experience possible,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “This technology will make it easier for our residents and visitors to pay for parking.”
Separately, Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com Tuesday evening that his office recently signed a 5-year contract to bring the EasyPark parking payment system to Arlington. EasyPark is a battery-operated device that allows drivers to pay for parking without using a parking meter or a phone. It will replace the legacy iPark system; new iParks are no longer available because the company behind the technology went out of business.
Nathan Norton, Deputy of Operations for the Treasurer’s Office, says the county is hoping to have EasyPark systems available for purchase online or at the Treasurer’s Office by mid-July. The devices will cost $30 but will come with $10 worth of parking. EasyPark devices can be refilled online or at the Treasurer’s Office. Unlike the iPark, which hangs from a vehicle’s rear view mirror, the Easypark will hang from the driver’s side window, making enforcement easier, Norton said.
The county says it will continue to accept payment for parking at meters (both mechanical coin-operated meters and credit card-enabled multispace meters) and via existing iParks, even after the new systems are rolled out.
Chief Deputy Treasurer Carla de la Pava, a Democrat, has launched a campaign website in which she lists endorsements from a number of prominent local Democratic officials, including O’Leary, Del. Patrick Hope, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and School Board member Noah Simon.
“After six years of excellent service to the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office and Arlington County citizens, Carla de la Pava is well prepared and highly qualified to be Arlington County Treasurer,” O’Leary is quoted as saying. “Experience does count!”
De la Pava can be expected “to continue the firm-but-fair collection practices that have seen the county’s tax-delinqency [sic] rate reach an all-time low,” according to the Sun Gazette, which covered a presentation by de la Pava to the South Arlington Kiwanis Club last month.
O’Leary — who was first elected treasurer in 1983, according to his county biography — was at a conference in Wise County, Va. and not available for comment. He later revealed that he plans to submit his resignation on Monday, July 7.
Photo via LinkedIn
The finalists have been chosen for Arlington’s annual Decal Design Competition and residents will have the chance to choose a favorite later this week.
The contest is open to all Arlington high school students and a citizens’ panel typically narrows down the entries to four finalists. This year, however, five finalists were named because the voting resulted in a tie.
The winning 2014-2015 decal will be announced at a County Board meeting early next year and will be affixed to about 160,000 car windshields beginning next summer.
Each student included a description of his or her design. Excerpts from each are below:
- Education is a Virtue — “I think my photograph of the Arlington Education Center and the Planetarium represent Arlington’s important focus on students and education.”
- Netherlands Carrillon — “To me, Arlington represents community and pride. I wanted to depict something in my photo that brings both to mind for me.”
- Arlington’s Namesake — “The Arlington House and Arlington National Cemetary together help to show the abudance of history that Arlington County has.”
- Crystal Fountain — “The different colors also represent the diversity in Arlington. I’m grateful to be living in such beautiful and diverse community as Arlington.”
- Arlington Landmark — “To me, it’s light symbolizes Arlington’s dreams and opportunities. My years in Arlington have showed me that I can grow into whoever I want to be.”
The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office is still updating its website with the decals and the unedited descriptions each student wrote. Residents will be able to vote for their favorite starting on Thursday and running through January 19.
Coming on the heels of Alexandria’s announcement that it will implement a pay by phone option at parking meters, officials say Arlington County will be doing the same next year.
The county’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) hopes to have the system up and running by the fall of 2014. Right now DES is waiting for the police department to update its parking enforcement system before moving forward.
DES Parking Manager Sarah Stott explained that the handheld devices currently used by parking enforcement officers are not connected to a wireless system. ACPD needs to purchase new wireless handheld devices that are connected to “the cloud” where all the pay by phone information is stored. Once the system is in place, officers can type in a license plate and a message will pop up if the meter user paid by cell phone. Some systems also allow officers to type in a location and instantly which cars on that block paid by cell phone.
The county has received a number of inquiries about the possibility of installing the system, which Stott says is far more convenient than fishing for quarters or waiting for the current parking kiosks to print a time slip.
“We do get calls asking if we’re going to be getting pay by cell,” Stott said. “I think it will be positive, people will be very happy to get it.”
The county will proceed with finding a system vendor once the police department purchases new handheld units, which may happen by spring or summer of 2014. The three D.C. area jurisdictions with pay by phone capabilities all use different vendors — the District uses Parkmobile, Montgomery County uses MobileNow! and Alexandria will use Pango. Stott said Arlington will examine those vendors and others when determining which the county will choose.
Because no vendor has been chosen, the county is not sure exactly how the system will function. Typically, users with smart phones are able to add time to meters with a credit card via an app or by logging on to a website. Customers who do not have a smart phone should be able to add time by calling a phone number listed on the meter.
The county will still keep traditional parking meters and the kiosks that dispense paper tickets. Despite trouble with a vendor going out of business earlier this year, the iPark system also will remain in place. County Treasurer Frank O’Leary said Arlington was able to purchase the recharge codes for the existing iPark devices so customers can continue to use them. County workers are in the process of finding alternative devices for those who may wish to purchase one in the future. O’Leary likes the idea of providing the public with a number of options for parking payments.
“The more options you give people, the more likely they are to take advantage of the situation,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned there’s no single solution, there are multiple solutions. Give people alternatives and make this as painless as possible.”
O’Leary does not anticipate any issues with the county’s parking meter revenue when the new pay by phone system goes live. In fact, he indicated there’s a chance revenue could increase if more people use the county’s parking spots when they discover the ease of pay by phone.
“I think people will migrate to this rapidly because I don’t think many people like the pay and park, where you have to walk back to your car to put a piece of paper on your dashboard,” said O’Leary. “I don’t think this is going to pose any major headaches.”
It’s unclear exactly how long it will take to implement the pay by phone parking system throughout Arlington; that will be determined once a vendor is chosen. The vendor will work with the county to put up signs explaining the system, and that is often done in phases.
The auction will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 28, in Room 109 of the county office building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
The approximate location, size and value of the properties are:
- 3600 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive near Shirlington (0.061 acres, assessed at $233,300)
- 3000 block of 17th Street S. in Nauck (3,750 square feet, assessed at $144,400)
- N. Cameron Street in Hall’s Hill (7,994 square feet, assessed at $418,200)
- N. Colonial Terrace in North Rosslyn (0.1133 acres, assessed at $370,100)
- S. Nelson Street in Douglas Park (1,972 square feet, assessed at $8,900)
From an Arlington County Treasurer’s Office press release:
Properties qualify for the judicial sale process once they are delinquent for 2 years or more following December 31. The Treasurer hopes to recover the delinquent taxes against the five properties that will be offered for sale on that day. In aggregate, the five properties owe taxes, penalties, interest and fees totaling more than $130,000.
The Office of the Treasurer has worked diligently to collect delinquent taxes throughout the county. The Treasurer’s Office has an annual collection rate of more than 99.8% on real estate taxes, perhaps the highest in the State. “While we are extremely proud of our collection rate,” said County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, “sometimes, taxes are not paid and the owners of a parcel or their heirs cannot be located. In these cases, the judicial sale process is the only way for the County to recover the taxes. We are looking forward to new owners putting these properties to productive economic or residential use, which will benefit all of Arlington.”
The Treasurer coordinates the tax sale process with the law firm of Taxing Authority Consulting Services, PC, whose fee is paid by the delinquent taxpayer or from the proceeds of sale.
“This is a rare opportunity for people to participate in a real property auction in Arlington,” O’Leary said, “We encourage interested parties to join us on June 28th, either in-person or online. It should be an interesting, and perhaps even exciting, event.”
For additional information about the terms and conditions of sale, you can visit: http://taxsales.taxva.com. To participate in the auction online, please visit: http://www.rasmus.com/auction_detail.php?id=204700.
Closed 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.
All designs for the 2013-2014 decal must feature an image of the USS Arlington, a new Navy ship named after the county in commemoration of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. The ship will be commissioned in Hampton Roads, Va. this coming spring.
Four decal design finalists will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 13. The winning decal (chosen by popular vote) will be announced on Jan. 22, 2013. The new decals will be distributed next summer, to be displayed on the windshield of more than 155,000 vehicles in Arlington.
Treasurer’s Charity Mailing a ‘Win-Win’ — Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary says fliers for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and the Arlington Food Assistance Center that went out in the mail with county vehicle decals this year represent a win-win for the community. The nonprofits paid the cost of printing and the extra cost of mailing the decals with the fliers. [Sun Gazette]
Fight at RiRa Irish Pub — A fight broke out at RiRa Irish Pub (2915 Wilson Boulevard) in Clarendon around 8:15 last night. Witnesses tell ARLnow.com that two drunk patrons got in a fight inside the bar. As the fight spilled outside onto the sidewalk some passersby might have gotten involved. Numerous police officers responded to the scene and at least one of the of the fight participants was transported to the hospital. An Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans meeting was taking place inside RiRa at the time of the fight, but the group and its members were not involved, we’re told.
AHC Seeks Volunteer Tutors — AHC Inc., an Arlington-based affordable housing nonprofit, is looking for more than 100 enthusiastic, responsible volunteers to help tutor teens in the evening or to work with elementary students in the afternoon. AHC’s tutoring programs for its residents start on Monday, Sept. 17. More information about volunteering is available on the organization’s web site.
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Payments not received or postmarked by that date will be considered late. Penalties will be the same amount as the tax if less than $10 is owed, $10 if between $10 and $100 is owed and 10% of the tax amount if more than $100 is owed.
Real estate taxes are split into two installments, and the deadline for the second installment is Friday, October 5.
Payments can be made by mail, in person or online. Anyone who hasn’t yet received a bill should contact the Treasurer’s Office right away, at 703-228-4000 or email@example.com.
The latest version of Arlington’s meals tax delinquency list was released earlier this month and it looks like bad news for chef Roberto Donna.
Donna, whose Galileo III restaurant in D.C. closed in September, now owes Arlington County $167,366.79, up from $150,715.96 in June, according to the list. The debt stems from the failure of Donna’s Bebo Trattoria restaurant in Crystal City, which closed in 2009 amid a mountain of debt and a federal lawsuit. Prior to the closing of Galileo III, Donna had been making small court-ordered payments on his meals tax debt.
(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.)
While the delinquency list includes many restaurants that have gone out of business, some of the establishments on the list are still open. Among them:
- Extra Virgin in Shirlington: $54,568.51 (down from $65,098.93 in June)
- Quiznos Subs (various locations): $36,095.49
- Las Delicias Restaurant in Nauck: $27,422.02 (up from $23,906.53 in June)
- Caribbean Breeze in Ballston: $22,078.84 (up from $8,419.87 in June)
- Texas BBQ Factory in Pentagon City: $21,080.85 (up from $8,814.02 in June)
- Tortoise and Hare Bar & Grille in Crystal City: $16,794.49
- Village Bistro in Rosslyn: $10,110.26
Just like Santa Claus, Arlington’s tax enforcers know whether you’ve been naughty or nice. But instead of giving you a lump of coal in your stocking, the tax enforcers are taking something: your license plates.
We spotted Arlington County’s Automated License Plate Recognition vehicle on the prowl (see photo, top) in an apartment parking lot today. The vehicle — the only one of its kind in the county fleet — automatically reads license plates and tells the tax enforcement employee inside which vehicles belong to owners with overdue parking fines, vehicle property taxes or other public debts.
When they find a vehicle whose owner owes a considerable amount of taxes and/or fines, the enforcers will confirm the vehicle type and then either use an electric screwdriver to take the vehicle’s license plates (for Virginia plates) or place a boot on the vehicle’s wheel (for out-of-state plates). The owner then has to pay up to get the plates back or the boot taken off.
(Sometimes owners who owe less than $200 are let off the hook with a simple warning note.)
The county bought the Automated License Plate Recognition system for some $30,000 back in 2004. Arlington was the first locality in the U.S. using such technology for tax purposes, according to the county Treasurer’s Office. Since it was first rolled out, we’re told the license plate readers have helped collect some $1.4 million.
“It has paid its way many times since then,” Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com. O’Leary said the average debt collected is between $600 and $700.
The county typically does not tow vehicles, to relieve owners of the “extra hardship” of having to retrieve the vehicle and pay the towing fee, according to O’Leary.
The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office is asking for entries for its 2012-2013 Vehicle Decal Design Competition. The contest, now in its eighth year, is open to all high school students who live in Arlington.
“The competition will give you the opportunity to practice your design skills as well as participate in the workings of local government,” the Treasurer’s Office said in a letter to high school students. “The winning decal design will be displayed on the windshields of over 155,000 vehicles in Arlington, and will become part of the Arlington decal exhibit located at the county administrative building.”
Students are asked to submit their design as a JPEG file, either via email or via CD. The design must be in a resolution no less than 300 DPI. The final decal measures 1.5 inches by 2.25 inches. More detailed instructions are available on the county’s web site.
Entries for the contest must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Four finalists will be chosen by a “Citizens’ Panel” and will be announced in the Sun Gazette newspaper on Thursday, Dec. 8. Sun Gazette readers will then vote for a winning design, which is expected to be announced on Jan. 24, 2012.
The finalists will each receive a $500 savings bond.
This year’s competition winner was “Hume, Sweet Hume,” by Wakefield High School student Maya Giacobbe.
Arlington County has quietly started offering iPark devices again.
The iPark is an electronic gadget that allows you to pay for parking in Arlington by pressing a button and hanging the device from your rear view mirror. The big advantage is the ability to pay for parking by the minute, without having to guess how long you’re going to be in a spot and without having to carry coins or fiddle with those multi-space parking meters.
The county stopped selling iParks last winter, after the company behind the device encountered some financial difficulties. Those problems have since been cleared up, apparently, and the county has started offering iParks to citizens once again.
“Epark, the manufacturer if iPark, has recapitalized and is under new management,” Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com. “Accordingly, we are moving ahead full bore.”
The iPark is available for purchase at the Treasurer’s Office at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 215. The device itself costs $20, and prepaid parking funds can be added via cash, check or credit card.