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Board Raises Tax Rate To Preserve Services

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved a $959.9 million FY 2011 budget on Saturday. The budget includes a 8.3 cent property tax rate hike, 24 percent higher than the recommended 6.7 cent increase in the county manager’s proposed budget.

Together with fee increases totaling about $71 a year, the tax burden on the average household will increase by about $346 per year.

Arlington’s residential property tax burden will now total $0.958 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is still lower than most neighboring jurisdictions.

The board said it was responding to public concern over some of the spending cuts outlined in the county manager’s budget. Dozens of people spoke out against many of the cuts at public budget hearings, although the majority of speakers at a separate tax rate hearing spoke out against raising taxes.

Among the line items rescued from the chopping block as a result of the tax hike:

  • Community policing
  • The second of the fire department’s two heavy rescue units
  • Emergency management personnel
  • Merit pay raises for county staff
  • Metro funding increase
  • The Aurora Hills and Lee senior centers
  • Sunday hours at the Central Library
  • Funding for library materials, such as periodicals
  • Park maintenance and nature centers
  • Partial funding of non-profit organizations, arts grants

“This budget reflects the values of our community,” County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in a statement. “We listened to residents and acted to preserve core services and our quality of life. We have also been fiscally prudent, making deep and sometimes painful cuts that affected services and reduced staff. This budget ensures Arlington’s fiscal sustainability while protecting the most vulnerable among us.”

Read more about the budget from the Washington Post or the county’s website.

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