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Budget Recommendation: Cut Programs, Find Efficiencies

by ARLnow.com October 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm 1,287 9 Comments

At times, the preliminary budget recommendations from Arlington’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission sound more like something you’d hear on CNBC than at a county board meeting. While recommending that next year’s estimated $25-$35 million budget shortfall be made up by a 50-50 combination of spending cuts and tax increases, the commission says that longer-term changes might be necessary.

“The County may have to make structural changes to accommodate continued significant financial challenges,” the commission said in a three-page report to the county board. “Those changes may include improved efficiencies, outsourcing (to realize improved efficiencies and reduced labor costs) and changes in service levels.”

FAAC recommends that the board “require departments to identify and implement operational efficiency improvements,” and “reduce or eliminate funding for programs that are no longer needed, are not effective, or are no longer affordable.”

The recommendations come at a time when the county will be taking on new operating expenses as a result of several major capital projects. Those projects include the Mary Marshall Assisted Living Residence, Artisphere (which opens this week) and the Columbia Pike revitalization project (which includes the assumption of road maintenance costs from the state).

The commission praised the board for balancing priorities during recent budget cycles, calling the past three budgets “fiscally prudent and responsive to pressing human service needs.”

“Arlington has been fiscally fortunate in comparison to many jurisdictions, in part because of a legacy of strong planning and prudent investments,” the report concludes. “However, the fiscal picture remains uncertain, and we believe that the recommendations contained in this report may provide additional options for the Board to consider in the development of the FY 2012 budget.”

  • othersideoftheriver

    You forgot to add as a related post the “Michael Brown gets a severance” article.

  • John Antonelli

    Translated this means another tax increase

    • Burger

      True. Butmore likely an increase in the property tax rate and the typical 10+% increase in general use fees – like trash pick and water/sewage fees. You know the fees you can only get from the county and the county can raise the fees with impunity.

  • gringo

    Is the 3-page document all there is?? Is there a longer report where they say something more specific than “be efficient and save money”?

  • Lou

    “The commission praised the board for balancing priorities during recent budget cycles, calling the past three budgets “fiscally prudent and responsive to pressing human service needs.”

    The board-appointed commission praised the board. Shocking!

    I’m sure there is plenty of grist for the mill when you start getting specific about implementing any of these recommendations. Unfortunately, in a one party town there will not be much open debate about how to approach it.

  • Ron Carlee

    So when do I get to come back?

    • Brownlocks

      Are you serious? Come back now!

  • Burger

    In other words, this is the document that got Brown fired last week for speaking the truth.

  • Brent

    Fiscal Affairs usually pushes out several reports during the budget process covering some of the more “hot button” topics. The reports include recommendations, which the Board does not have to follow.

    Pretty much anyone who lives in Arlington is eligible to participate in FAAC, and the meetings are open to the public.

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