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Arlington Stays in the Financial World’s Good Graces

by ARLnow.com July 13, 2010 at 4:59 pm 1,656 14 Comments

For the tenth straight year, Arlington has scored a financial “triple-triple.” All three major bond rating agencies have just affirmed Arlington’s AAA bond rating, the highest rating available.

“I think it’s especially important at this time, which is very difficult for the economy, local governments and bond markets,” County Manager Michael Brown told board members while announcing the good news today.

“Not many communities can do that,” said board chairman Jay Fisette, who called the top rating “sacrosanct” and “a source of pride.”

Arlington is one of only 35 counties across the country that has a triple AAA rating. It allows the county to borrow money at the lowest possible rates.

Brown cited the county’s strong economic performance, deep reserves and good fiscal management as reasons for the renewal. The rating was granted despite the county moving forward with a $161 million bond referendum that, if approved by voters in November, will fund a new Wakefield High School, infrastructure improvements at Metro, and other major capital expenditures. Some fear that the larger-than-normal bond issue will hurt Arlington’s AAA status.

  • G Clifford Prout

    And remind me, people want to change form of government why?

    • Mike

      Consecutive 10% tax hikes not high enough for you? Or do you just LOVE choo choo trains, reduced library hours, entertainment welfare for the rich, public bath houses? Me personally, I just adore the fact it takes 6 months for the county to fix a god damned pot hole.

      • david

        Wow – you are a very angry person.

        • Mike

          I’m happy. Happy the COG proposal is going to make the ballot. It’s the ACDC hacks who are angry.

          • JoshS

            No Mike, you’re an angry, bitter person. People don’t resort to name calling and the low level of discourse that you have when they are happy. Get help, because you won’t be getting any relief in November.

  • Nate C

    Part of a decent fiscal rating is fiscal restraint. Arlington’s spending spree needs to end. I hope that the bond is not approved this fall.

  • JoshS

    Wow, this sucks. We better change our entire form of government QUICK!

  • Pingback: Arlington, that Free-Spending Socialist Utopia . . . | Blacknell.net()

  • Let’s Be Free

    And AIG bonds were rated AAA until when?

    Whatever legitimacy this bought bond rating has is due to the bankers’ view of their ability to reach into the populous’ pockets, nothing at all to do with the bobble-head show that passes for the County Board, other than their willingness to be the bankers partners in reaching into our pockets.

    Fiscal restraint is coming to the feeding trough across the Potomac. We will be paying the bills for Gelato Jay’s and Chris Streetcarman’s fiscal feeding frenzy long after the source of sustenance has stopped.

  • South Arlington

    Why is there never discussion from the the naysayers about the effect these bonds and capital improvements have on county revenue? New projects like the Columbia Pike streetcar, EFC development, Crystal City redevelopment, etc. lead to higher property values for nearby homeowners, more commercial tax revenue. Or perhaps these naysayers will say Lyon Park homeowners haven’t benefited, both in lifestyle and financially, from being in close proximity to transit and transit oriented development. This drives a larger “source of sustenance” for things like schools, nature centers, parks, etc. that make the county great.

    • Greg

      Those things are great and we certainly benefit from the added tax revenue development brings.

      Some of the concern however is that the County has had enormous development over the past decade (remember what Clarendon looked like just 10 years ago). Also, our home prices have stayed high despite the national downturn.

      At the same time, we see numerous budget cuts to the community benefits you mention. And increased taxes.

      The budget has increased 50% in 6 years (from 800k in 2004 to $1.2MM). Where is all the money going? Are we seeing 50% greater benefits to community services.

      Don’t get me wrong. Arlington is great and I don’t doubt one of the best places to live in the country. But the way spending has grown in the very recent past signals that maybe another viewpoint would be helpful. I don’t think total reorganization of our system of government is the answer. But it would be nice if the citizens voted for someone without a “D” beside their name for once (and this is coming for someone who has voted Democrats for Pres for 20 years).

    • Let’s Be Free

      SA, the high property values in Arlington are due to three things — location, location and location — not the County Board, not the School Board and not the Architectural Review Board. There is little that Arlington County funds that can’t be done for 25 percent less cost, our neighbors in Fairfax do that and better. Also, there is no good reason why the developers who it is said will benefit from the Columbia Pike Trolley or Crystal City redevelopment shouldn’t fund those expenditures instead of drawing down general tax revenues. Developers should pay for development (Fairfax County does an excellent job of ensuring that, Arlington does a poor job with a bobble-headed, unaccountable Board that’s in the pockets of the developers). Since we have location on our side, there is zero reason to engage in crony capitalism to subsidize the development crowd.

      It is silly to suggest that someone who supports prudent and efficient management is against schools and parks. Reality is that I’ve lived places that had better schools and parks, and lower taxes. Arlington is no nirvana, not even close.

      • South Arlington

        The high property values in Arlington are obviously helped by location, but the county services such as schools, safety, parks and development of areas like the R-B corridor and soon the Columbia Pike corridor are what set Arlington apart from other DC adjacent municipalities. If it was only location, PG county would be enjoying the same high property values we are – which they aren’t. Their county and city services in PG are awful.

        While I agree that developers in an ideal world would pay part of the trolley, what should the county do? Just do nothing and allow that portion of town decay? Or make an investment in infrastructure at taxpayer expense, and reap benefits FOR THE TAXPAYERS in the form of new revenue streams, better quality of life for residents, higher property values, better aesthetics, etc. It is these investments in infrastructure that have driven Arlington’s tax base for years. So I have to disagree when investments such as these are constantly being attacked ad-hoc as wastes.

        Understanding that cuts sometimes have to be made, I don’t think infrastructure improvements that have a clear return on investment are what the CB should be cutting.

  • Let’s Be Free (with the facts)

    Thank you, South Arlington, for pointing out the extraordinarily obvious flaw in LBF’s analysis. As I was reading his post I was thinking the same exact thing: if proximity to DC = high property values, why isn’t PG County in the same boat? I guess when you are committed to an idea (“County Board is BAD!”) you’ll ignore any inconvenient facts to make your point.

    As for Greg’s historic budget numbers (“The budget has increased 50% in 6 years from 800k in 2004 to $1.2MM”), here’s the real info:

    Arlington County adopted FY2004 budget: $665.7 million
    Arlington County adopted FY2011 budget: $955.9 million
    Percent increase in budget, FY2004-2011: 43.6%

    He was somewhat in the ballpark with the percent increase, but wildly off with the raw numbers. Not arguing his point, just pointing out how fast and loose people are with facts on the Wild, Wild Web.

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