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Treasurer O’Leary To Hold Re-Election Kick-Off

by ARLnow.com December 30, 2010 at 8:25 am 1,890 38 Comments

Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary will officially kick off his re-election campaign on Thursday, Jan. 6.

O’Leary, who first took office in 1984, touts his efforts to bring down the tax delinquency rate in Arlington County. The rate was nine percent shortly before he took office, and is just over one half of one percent now.

Republicans are currently looking for qualified candidates to run against O’Leary and other Democrats who are up for re-election this year.

After the jump is O’Leary’s letter to supporters announcing his re-election bid.

Since first taking office, I have been proud and privileged to serve as your treasurer. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the community I love. Accordingly, after personal reflection, discussions with my staff, friends, and family, and of course with the encouragement of Linda, my wonderful wife of over forty years, I have decided to seek re-election to serve another term as Arlington’s Treasurer.

During my tenure, my objective has always been to establish and maintain a high performance treasurer’s office under the motto, “The people who work in this office do their best to serve the public in a courteous and efficient manner.” I strongly believe in those sentiments and my convictions are shared by the more than sixty employees of the Arlington County Treasurer’s office, a number of whom appear in the photo above.

Allow me to cite some of our accomplishments. Before my first election, Arlington’s tax delinquency rate was more than nine percent. Since then we have steadily worked to lower it and are proud to announce that the delinquency rate is now projected as just over one half of one percent for Fiscal Year 2011. This represents a savings of approximately $128,000,000 for taxpayers such as you. Our performance in this area led the accounting firm of Deloitte Touche to state, “Arlington County is the most effective collector of local revenue in the United States.”

While we cannot make the payment of taxes painless, we can do our best to make it as convenient as possible. In 1984, we were among the first treasurer offices to allow payment by credit card and payment at any local bank branch. In 1987, we introduced the Automated Payment Service (APS) which automatically debits taxpayers’ bank accounts on the payment deadline or in monthly installments. Nearly 4,000 households participate in the APS. In 1997, we started 1-888-2PayTax, allowing taxpayers to pay bills by telephone (24/7). This system was subsequently adopted by the IRS. In 1998, we became the first tax office in the United States to accept payment over the Internet. This past year, our award-winning Internet payment portal processed 176,000 payments totaling nearly $200,000,000. In 2004, we expanded our payment locations to include Safeway grocery stores and more than fifty other retail outlets as part of our Neighborhood Payment Program, geared to serving our community and especially those without bank accounts.

We also recognize that conscientious, honest people sometimes have difficulty paying their taxes. Accordingly, in 1994, we started the Taxpayer Assistance Program. Working

with our local community bank – John Marshall – taxpayers can arrange to have their taxes paid to the County immediately, without even a credit check, and repay the bank in monthly installments. This past year alone, nearly two hundred homeowners borrowed and repaid $340,000. What a great alternative to the embarrassment of tax delinquency!

Annually, the Treasurer’s office processes more than $1,000,000,000 in revenue and more than 700,000 transactions. This very large and complex undertaking requires high level technical and financial skills. Once revenue is received, we must invest it prudently and ensure its timely availability to meet County expenses. Each year, our investments peak at more than $400,000,000 contained in a wide and diverse, but highly conservative, portfolio. Happily, the rate of return on your money has routinely been higher than any of our neighboring jurisdictions and we can all be proud of Arlington’s AAA/AAA/Aaa bond rating.

Our many accomplishments are reflected in the nineteen national and state awards that we have received. In 1999, the Association of Public Treasurers cited me as the most effective governmental treasurer in North America. It is, however, the work of the dedicated and committed employees of my office that made this possible, and I cannot adequately express in words how proud I am of my staff and their commitment to all the taxpayers of Arlington County.

If re-elected, I plan to maintain the level of excellence that we have achieved as an office. As Arlington continues to evolve into a world-class community, so too shall the Treasurer’s office. I also hope to secure the passage of federal legislation I authored, introduced by Congressman Jim Moran, whereby local government will be able to intercept the federal refunds of those who failed to pay their local taxes.

In closing, I want to thank you, as a voter and taxpayer, for your past support. Without you, none of the great work of the Treasurer’s office would have been possible. I am truly humbled that you have allowed me to serve these many years and I hope to count on your continued support. Please have a very happy and

safe New Year.

  • FREDTERP

    When is this election held. FREDTERP

    • AH

      @FREDTERP – the election of the Treasurer will be held in November of 2011.

      In 2011, 4 of the 5 Arlington Constitutional officers – the Treasurer, Commissioner of Revenue, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and the Sheriff will be up for election (the other Constitutional Office is the Clerk of the Court which is not up next year). Also on the ballot in November of 2011 will be members of the Virginia General Assembly (Delegates and Senators), two County Board seats, and one school board seats.

      The Voter Registrar’s website has more info – http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/voterregistration/voterregistrationmain.aspx

    • TGEoA

      Why does FREDTERP end every post with FREDTERP?

      FREDTERP

      • Skeptical

        🙂

  • MC

    I was impressed by Frank O’Leary’s message until I read about his advocacy of “federal legislation I authored, introduced by Congressman Jim Moran, whereby local government will be able to intercept the federal refunds of those who failed to pay their local taxes.”

    I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but this sounds constitutionally dubious. If the IRS has determined the Federal government owes you money, what constitutional right does Frank O’Leary have to tell the Federal Government that he should get the money instead of you? What proof does the County treasurer intend to offer the Federal government that its tax claim is valid, and not contested by the individual against which it is being made?

    If, as Arlington treasurer, he has determined that someone in Arlington is in arrears on their taxes, that is civil matter better that individual and the County government. Arlington is merely one claimant on outstanding debt that has no greater legal priority than banks owed delinquent mortgage payments or the Commonwealth of Virginia owed back taxes.

    • charlie

      But he has also made this deal with the state for unpaid parking tickets.
      and yet somehow he can’t cooperate with DMV to get rid of the car decal.

      • Westover

        Charlie,
        You don’t like paying $20+ for a one inch square piece of High School art?

      • 22203

        The County Board is responsible for the decal, not the Treasurer or the DMV.

        • Westover

          The Board is responsible for setting the tax rate, and while they would have the means to do away with the decal if they decided to I do not believe they can make the Tresurer continue to issue/require them. It is Frank who continues to use them as an extra $33 to be made on each vehicle in the county. He too could decide that the decal is not needed.

          • 22203

            The fact is Ingrid Morroy (our excellent CoR) says it best. Without a decal, how will she be able to tell which cars are registered in the County? There is the alternative of a permanent decal (which I’m not against), but the idea of doing away with the decal entirely would be a revenue disaster for the County because no one would have to register their cars to pay Personal Property Tax*.

            *The majority of which comes directly from the State, not the car owner.

          • charlie

            this is a total circle jerk.
            Morroy says this, O’Leary says this, Board says this…
            talk talk talk talk talk and NO ONE TAKES RESPONSIBILITY.

            In Virginia Beach, they still collect personal property taxes AND they still charge a decal fee. But you don’t have a decal.

            Here is why Morroy is lame in her excuse: the majority of cars around here are from Fairfax and NONE OF THEM have decals. Lame excuse.

            Yes it is highly amateur art and I’m tired of it. I could do better.

            O’Leary is lame: you can cut out the artwork if you want. How stupid is that. Why doesn’t HE cut out the artwork and just go back to the Arlington logo.

            22203: In six other localities in Virginia the State works closely with the local Treasurer to exchange information on who has registered their vehicles — the locals get their tax money, be sure of that.

            I find the decal a symbol of Arlington politics doing what they want and not getting off their butts and doing the right thing. Get rid of the decal, keep the tax and heck, even keep the decal tax. I don’t care.

            it is a useless piece of plastic that is toxic and ugly.

          • FedUp

            Yes, they can require the Treasurer to stop issuing them. But I won’t be able to report any vehicles on my street that don’t pay tax. Remember, the DMV only records vehicles with VA tags. Those with tags from other states have to be found by the Commissioner’s office or reported by other taxpayers. I don’t like to pay taxes if my neighbors don’t pay theirs.

          • Westover

            It is easy to enforce the tax with the plate readers that are on some of the ACPD Cruisers. Or just send the folks the bill in the mail and send collectors after them when they are not paid, just as they do today. Give the folks a ticket and that is just a fine they will ignore like the tax.

    • kc

      Federal refunds can be offset for many things, including state enforcement agencies to collect delinquent child support and to when someone is delinquent on some student loans.

      • MC

        Thanks for the elucidation. Sounds like offsets are already big business, though I still don’t understand their constitutional basis when states and local governments utilize federal offsets.

    • The Pope of South Arlington

      “federal legislation I authored, introduced by Congressman Jim Moran, whereby local government will be able to intercept the federal refunds of those who failed to pay their local taxes.”

      THAT’S INSANE! The man has no soul!

      • Taxpayer

        Every delinquint tax dollar is one that you and I have to pay extra. I’m glad O’Leary goes after the freeloaders.

        • The Pope of South Arlington

          Every delinquent tax dollar is one that didnt come out of Buchanan Gardens and one that WE have to pay extra to subsidize the “free-loaders” and accelerate their breeding.

      • mehoo

        How dare he enforce the law and require people to pay their taxes, etc.

  • Dan

    Didn’t he say that he wouldn’t run again after the racial dustup that he stirred up in his last election ???

    • alebt

      That is my memory of events. I thought he wasn’t running again. Having been in office since 1984 would be enough for me to vote against him. Is there not another Democrat in Arlington willing to shake things up??? It continually amazes me how sclerotic our county government is.

      • Taxpayer

        He does a good job and still listens to voters… Longevity in office isn’t a bad thing when the incumbent runs the office well. I’ve voted for him twice and can’t imagine I won’t vote for him again in November.

        • alebt

          I guess “runs office well” is in dispute here. As a South Arlington resident who was part of the lost tax assessments debacle of a few years ago, we will have to agree to disagree on his adroitness. The larger point, while I am not a strict Term limits supporter, I do think that even when an political appointment holder does his or her job well over a period of more than a quarter century, it is not good for democracy for someone to hold an office that long.

          • 22203

            It was my understanding that the problem was the USPS didn’t do their job and deliver the bills and that the Code of Virginia mandates a late penalty be awarded. You may be angry you had to pay the extra $$$, but it seems perfectly fair to me.

            I had to pay a late fee this year because of a mistake on my part… I was pissed, but it was my responsibility.

          • alebt

            @22203: I am not angry because I was stung by a late fee. I paid mine via electronic means on time. My elderly neighbors however did not have that means available to them. It remains a point of contention on whether it was the USPS or the contractor under the purview of the Treasurer. And I believe someone else has made the point as to how many employees the Treasurer has at his disposal vis a vis Fairfax and yet a private contractor was involved….go figure.

      • Dan

        It should be interesting to see how he will deal that…..I was pretty sure that he said that he wouldn’t run again in order to try to tamp down the racial kerfuffle he stirred up in the last election.

  • Arlwhenever

    More than 60 employees? How do you spell “patronage?”

    Fairfax County which has about 5 times the population and also that many times as much business/financial activity has fewer than 100 employees dedicated to its treasurer functions. And in spite of moving up to half of all transactions to automated portals the Treasurer’s office has just about as many employees now as it did ten or fifteen years ago. O’Leary is a dinosaur who throws away taxpayer money.

    • 22203

      That’s nothing… the state funds 212 positions in the Sheriff’s Office alone.

    • FedUp

      Fairfax also has millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. They got rid of all of their collectors. Those are the people that are supposed to collect unpaid taxes. So Fairfax is now losing millions of dollars. I would rather live in a place where every penny that’s owed gets collected. Whether you agree with the taxes or not, in Arlington we know every penny gets pursued.

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    I wonder how many hours a day the average American has to work to pay the taxes exacted from him/her by Federal, State, and local governments, plus all the little nests of bureaucratic parasites – school boards, park boards, waste boards, transportation boards and other similar blood-suckers?

  • SoCo Resident

    Throw this Bum Out!
    Car Tax Scoffaw Complaints have gone unaddressed by him. I have written about cars in our congested block with no personal property tax stickers on them and received NO response. The last time I tried to use the Treasurers online anonymous car tax reporting site, it didn’t work at all. That’s how uninterested O’Leary is in collecting the car tax!

    Although I dutifully dropped my taxes in the Treasurer’s drop box on Clarendon Blvd, I twice received threatening over due notices!

    Responsible taxpayers are treated VERY poorly by O’Leary’s office, while he ignores violators. Restaurants as a matter of daily business do not pay the meal tax because they know he will let them go on and on.

    TOO many years in office. Def time to remove this guy!

    • Re: Restaurants. The county is somewhat at the mercy of the state in terms of prosecuting meals tax delinquents. I’ve spoken to Mr. O’Leary about this, and I have little doubt the county would be more active with such prosecutions if they could be.

    • FedUp

      You see? There IS a use for those “dreaded” stickers. But I think you are contacting the wrong office for these violators. You should contact the Commissioner’s office. That’s what I do, and I get good response. In many cases, the cars are paying tax but not showing their decal. If you contact the Commissioner’s office, they can tell you if your neighbors are paying car tax or not. Or at least if they are on the tax list. If they don’t pay, that’s another matter.

    • charlie

      call the police non-emergency number and ask them to send a meter maid out.
      problem is that many of these cars might be from Fairfax and they don’t need stickers. see why it is stupid we still have them?

      Any restaurant with a use-permit for outdoor seating or live entertainment shold be current on their meals tax or have their special permit revoked.

      • FedUp

        Good luck with calling the police. Without decals, like you, they won’t know who is delinquent. And their meter maids don’t have time for this.

        • Dan

          “Without decals, like you, they won’t know who is delinquent. ”

          That is not true.
          They can “run the tags” and quickly find out what county the car is registered in.

          The tax decals are just a windfall for the county coffers.

          I wish they would quit all the fodder-all and just admit as much.

          • 22203

            Not true, many Arlington residents have Maryland tags.

    • 22203

      Buddy… The Treasurer has NO ability to assess taxes or get people who haven’t registered their cars. It is the COMMISSIONER OF THE REVENUE who does that. A simple way to remember this:

      Commissioner accesses taxes, Treasurer collects whatever has been assessed.

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