During the hearing members of the community typically lobby the Board to direct budget funds to particular areas of need or to specific nonprofit organizations. Only a couple asked the Board to cut spending.
Forty-five speakers came to the podium Tuesday night, and even more packed the County Board meeting room in support of their causes.
Members of the Arlington General Employees Association (AGENA) represented a significant chunk of the audience, with speakers rallying against pay raises that they feel unfairly favor management over the labor force.
“A team works together to provide great service. Each member brings something unique which makes the team work well,” said Jewyll Davis, speaking on behalf of AGENA. Davis cited County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s budget that calls for an avergae general management pay-for-performance raise of 3.2 percent, but an average increase of 2.3 percent for general employees. “Good team members should not receive a raise less than their managers’.”
Dozens of speakers requested additional — or continued — funding for nonprofits like Arlington Free Clinic; Bu-Gata, a tenant advocacy group; and the new nonprofit Arlington Neighborhood Villages, which supports those aging in place in Arlington.
There were at least five speakers who mentioned a need for an increased contribution to mental health services, from $75,000 for peer counselors to support for replacing state and federal funding that is set to run out.
“The preservation of critical safety net services to protect our most vulnerable residents should take highest priority,” Jim Mack, chair of the county’s Community Services Board, said.
The biggest contingent of speakers were those requesting additional County Board investment in affordable housing. Six speakers presented direct cases for more affordable housing funding, while others speaking for related causes, like family services and tenant’s rights, expressed support during their comments for more affordable housing money.
“I’m here to ask that [the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing] and other organizations like APAH will be able to have a budget to be able to fund affordable housing in Arlington for many years to come,” one speaker said. “I know that that the request is for $5 million more in the budget, but it’s worth it.”
Donnellan’s proposed budget calls for a general fund of $1.1 billion, which includes no tax rate increase but an average yearly cost increase of $381 per family due to a rise in real estate assessments and other fees. Only three speakers at the meeting spoke out against spending more.
“Needs not wants must drive county government and the county board. But that’s not what’s occurring in Arlington County,” said Jim Hurysz, a frequent County Board critic. He said he’s attended several budget work sessions so far, and “no one, with the exception of [Board member Libby] Garvey, expressed any concern for Arlington’s taxpayers, and I haven’t heard any concern expressed here tonight.”
The County Board will be holding another public hearing tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. to address the tax rate, which Donnellan has proposed holding steady at $1.006 per $100 in assessed value tax rate.
The park is being built on a third of an acre of what is currently vacant land along Clarendon Blvd, between N. Adams Street and N. Barton Street. The land, which belongs to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, is being leased to the county at no cost for at least two years, under the condition that the county maintains the land.
The park proposed for the parcel is being described as a “dynamic, inviting and sustainable open space” and Arlington’s “first temporary pop-up park.” It will include paths accessible to those with disabilities, chairs, tables, umbrellas, benches, planters, a drinking fountain, a small lawn area, shade trees, other plantings, and a small lawn area.
“A portion of the park building materials will be recycled from existing County surplus materials,” the county said. “Improvements to the site will be mostly surface improvements and will be designed to minimize the need for excavation. This will reduce the cost of construction and allow park elements to be reused at other sites.”
Via its Open Arlington website, the county is seeking community input on other potential park features. Ideas floated by county staff include:
- Small-scale outdoor games (like cornhole, croquet or table tennis)
- Bocce court
- Miniature golf course
- Gardening/demonstration gardens
- Exercise classes
- Outdoor market
- Game tables for chess or checkers
- Picnic tables
Last Chance to Comment on Bikeshare Plan — Today is the last day to comment on Arlington’s Capital Bikeshare Expansion Plan. Comments on the six year strategic growth plan can be submitted online through the end of the day today. [Arlington Transportation Partners]
Republicans Pounce on Garvey’s Streetcar Abstention — Hoping to capture a seat on the County Board this November, Republicans are planning on hammering away at the current all-Democrat Board for approving the Columbia Pike streetcar. The GOP is also planning to pounce on their Democratic opponent, Libby Garvey, for abstaining from the streetcar vote while expressing skepticism about the plan. Republican Matt Wavro will face Garvey and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement on the Nov. 6 ballot. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Officials Puzzled by Estate Gift — Arlington officials can’t fathom why a late resident left the county five percent of his estate in his will. The County Board had to vote to refund some of the money after whoever is in charge of executing the will made an error and sent the county $51,000 more than it was actually owed. [Patch]
Paisano’s Named Best Pizza by WTOP — Paisano’s has been named the best pizza in the D.C. area by WTOP listeners and website visitors. The local chain has a location near Crystal City at 3650 South Glebe Road. Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza, which has a location in Clarendon, placed #4 in the voting. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Christaki