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.