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Arlington’s Welfare Spending Outpaces Neighbors

by ARLnow.com June 24, 2010 at 8:55 am 1,959 16 Comments

Arlington spends more per capita on welfare and social services than neighbors Alexandria and Fairfax County. In fact, Arlington spends $455 for every resident in the county, nearly twice the spending of Fairfax.

“Considering the emphasis that the County Board has placed on social services, it’s not all that surprising that this category would be one of the highest per-capita spending items in Arlington,” Budget Director Richard Stevenson told the Arlington Connection’s Michael Lee Pope.

The county spends more on welfare and social services than on law enforcement. The welfare expenditures are greater than Arlington’s spending on parks, libraries, courts, sanitation and building maintenance combined. The only individual category that tops welfare is education, at $1,814 per capita. Taken as a whole, law enforcement and fire and rescue account for $588 spending per capita.

“I think we’re right where we need to be” in terms of budget priorities, County Board chairman Jay Fisette told the Connection.

  • Peter

    What exactly does “welfare” mean? As a tax-paying Arlington resident I would like to know where my tax dollars are going. And why services that benefit tax-payers are being cut, while welfare is not.

    • Darwin

      Don’t question it, wanting to keep more of the money you earn or at least know it is being used to provide you services is just greedy. We need to increase taxes to pay for job placement of illegal immigrants.

      • SC

        clever. i thought you would know that illegal immigrants only take the jobs no one else wants.

  • MB

    “Welfare”? Really?

  • Thes

    ArlNow needs to be the one to define “welfare” since he used the term. Also remember that a lot of this money is spent by Arlington but comes from state or federal taxes and is passed through Arlington for spending. Here is a link to some of the services Arlington provides with this money. http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ManagementAndFinance/budget/file76999.pdf

    It includes emergency assistance for clothing and medicine, housing assistance for people with permanent disabilities, subsidies for formerly homeless people getting back on their feet, dental services for people who can’t afford it, etc.

    • Tom

      There is also the dictionary…
      http://www.merriam-webster.com/netdict/welfare

      I’m guessing the definition intended was

      Welfare – “aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need”

    • Greg

      The programs in your link seem like worthy causes as long as that money is being used effectively/efficiently. They represent a very small slice of the dollars reported in this story, though.

      $10MM for FY 2011 in your link vs. almost $100MM if the $455 per resident is accurate.

      It would be nice to know what was considered “welfare” in this piece.

    • Mike

      Welfare is what it is. But the fact remains that Arlington is ponying up at TWICE the rate that Alexandria and Fairfax are.

      Maybe they should spraypaint on the fartisphere something like the Statue of Liberty has, though it will read “Send us your deadbeats”

  • John Antonelli

    What you all forget is that they will now see Arlington as a destination point for its generous benefits and more will come with a bigger need we need to supply.

    • MB

      That’s okay, John, you can stay anyway.

  • Robert

    Welfare is now known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and is federraly funded. If you take the human services budget (approx. $100M) to arrive at the $455 figure that means school health nurses and other public health programs, child protective services, mental/health substance abuse treatment, etc are being lumped in under “welfare.” Arlington has an integated human services dept. So if you compare a large multi-program dept with more narrow social service budgets in neighboring jurisdictions of course you will get inflated numbers. The actual number of Arlington residents on welfare is quite low as the cost of living is too high to make ends meet on TANF.

  • MC

    To clarify some the debate about “welfare”, ARLNOW is simply reporting on an article that was published in Arlington Connection newspaper, which itself was citing a Virginia state Auditor of Public Accounts report. Checking their website, it seems that the Auditor of Public Accounts uses the term welfare as a defined accounting category used uniformly for all Virginia jurisdictions. While I have no reason to question the state government’s calculations, their website unfortunately isn’t that user friendly, so I can’t find the exact report referenced in the article

    • MB

      Thanks, MC. I think the term is unfortunately loaded, and really not helpful in this context. It was less than informative reporting by the Arlington Connection, and ARLnow’s retransmission didn’t add any clarity.

      Semi-related: as anyone who attended the Arlington budget public hearings/sessions can tell you that – in addition to pushing for efficiency and accountability – there was broad support for preserving Arlington’s social services. This is Arlington, people.

      • Mike

        Efficient? Accountable? This from a government that raises taxes 10 per cent a year, cuts core services, funds USELESS art programs and wastes almost a million dollars on a frivolous lawsuit.

        Not too mention even dumber programs like streetcars and bath houses. As you said, this is Arlington. It’s not San Francisco. Let’s keep it that way.

        • Skeptical

          If it were San Francisco we’d have more interesting characters.

  • When is Mike leaving?

    I want to know when Mike is leaving. Based on his posts on this and other Arlington-focused sites, he is terribly unhappy with our community. I’m not telling him to go, I just want to know when he’s going to make the decision to go somewhere that does things more to his liking.

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