Fees could soon be going up on bocce players, race runners and adult sports competitors in Arlington.
- New $100 per team adult sports league surcharge, to go to county’s Field Fund
- New $10/hour bocce court rental fee
- Tennis rental fee increase from $5 to $10/hour
- Baseball and multi-use field rental fee increase of $5/hour. New rates range from $35 to $130/hour
- Trail event permit fee increase from $50 to $150 (impacts trail races)
- Police special event per-officer special event fee increase from $50 to $60/hour (impacts road races, etc.)
- Enjoy Arlington non-resident fee increase from $10 to $20/class
If included in the final FY 2014 budget, the county expects the parks fee increases to generate an additional $158,188 in revenue, and the police fee increase to generate an additional $110,000.
(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) The phrase “bank fees” used to describe a commonly-accepted practice. But in the past few months, rising fees have stoked consumer frustration. As a result, fed up customers have been abandoning big banks, and credit unions — including those located in Arlington — are reaping the rewards.
During the past year, and particularly the past two months, local credit unions have experienced rapid growth. Navy Federal Credit Union, for instance, experienced a 38 percent year-over-year jump in new members in October. Navy Federal has experienced a 23 percent increase in new customers in 2011, compared to its typical annual growth of 7 percent.
The 17,000 member Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, meanwhile, saw a 34 percent increase in new customers from September to October, in addition to a 100 percent increase in new online checking accounts during the same period.
(Disclosure: Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)
Although some banks have since rescinded new debit card fees and other banking charges, a grassroots movement toward credit unions and away from big banks seems to be taking hold. It even prompted the creation of Bank Transfer Day, which encouraged people to move their money to credit unions on November 5.
“People are expressing frustration over being treated like a number and not a member,” said Patty Briotta, public relations manager for the Clarendon-based National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU). “When some banks recalled their debit fees, it was too little, too late.”
Arlington Community Federal Credit Union CEO Brenda Turner said that in addition to accruing new applications, there has been an increase in customers who already held an account suddenly wanting to add another one.
“We could tell they were angry with the big banks because they wanted to move everything,” Turner said. “A lot of times people come in and just want an auto loan because we have great rates. But they wanted to completely clear out of the big banks and come over.”
Previously, many new members were attracted to credit unions due to features like competitive interest rates. Now, those who answered a NAFCU survey listed fees (24 percent) and general dissatisfaction (51 percent) as reasons for making the switch.
“During this challenging financial time, people want to leverage all of their resources and opportunities,” Briotta said. “You’re the boss at a credit union because it’s member-owned and a not-for-profit financial institution.”
Navy Federal Credit Union spokesperson Donovan Fox agreed, adding: “All of our members have a vote and everything that we do is for the benefit of our members. We’re always trying to increase our services, making them better for our members.”
NAFCU has recently ramped up promotion of CUlookup.com, a website it created to help consumers locate local credit unions. The site, which also lists the membership criteria of individual credit unions, has experienced explosive growth. This October saw a 700% year-over-year increase in web traffic this year, according to Briotta.
Although the rush will likely level off, right now Arlington’s credit unions are reveling in the business boom.
“It’s a great deal,” Turner said. “It’s unfortunate that it hasn’t been as widely known the convenience that credit unions offer.”
Said Briotta: “This is an example of Main Street winning over Wall Street.”
Primary reporting for this article was provided by Barry Skidmore of People Powered Arlington.
Property taxes are going up, and on Saturday residents got a preview of just how high rates may go.
Arlington’s advertised property tax rate has been set at 96.5 cents per $100 in assessed value, a nine cent increase from last year. The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the rate during a budget meeting Saturday morning.
The advertised rate represents the highest rate the county can decide to tax for the 2011 fiscal year, which actually begins on June 1, 2010. The FY 2011 tax rate will be set by the board in April.
Although Acting County Manager Barbara Donnellan has proposed a tax rate of 94.2 cents – a 6.7 cent increase – board members said the higher advertised rate will give the county flexibility to meet unexpected budget shortfalls. The county is currently facing a $65 million deficit for FY 2011.
“This rate provides us the flexibility we need to address the unknowns presented since our budget guidance was provided in the fall – primarily the uncertain state budget cuts and Metro demands that we may face,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette.
“I have worked on a lot of these [budgets]” added board member Christopher Zimmerman. “I don’t think I have ever seen this degree of uncertainty.”