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Budget Will Add Funds for Libraries, Lubber Run, Safety Net

by ARLnow.com April 14, 2011 at 11:37 am 2,228 68 Comments

Public libraries, the Lubber Run Amphitheater and ‘safety net’ programs are a few of the budget priorities that will receive funding above and beyond the amount proposed in the county manager’s budget.

The County Board has allocated $258,000 to allow each branch library to stay open for an additional three hours per week. The funds will also support longer Sunday hours at the Shirlington and Columbia Pike libraries and allow the purchase of additional books and e-books.

The board is providing an additional $370,000 for park maintenance, Friday hours at the Lubber Run Community Center and for the restoration of seasonal programming at the shuttered Lubber Run Amphitheater. An additional allocation of $100,000 will fund early stages of restoring the amphitheater.

Safety net programs like housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment and community medical care will also benefit from the board’s budget adjustment.

An additional $1.5 million will be added to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund, for a total FY 2012 contribution of $5.5 million. An additional $250,000 will be added for housing grants, the subject of a recent ARLnow.com poll. Service for those with serious emotional, mental and substance abuse problems will receive just over $500,000. Safety net non-profits like the Arlington Food Assistance Center, the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, Doorways and the Arlington Free Clinic will split an additional $420,000.

Public safety agencies will receive an extra $1 million under the new budget. The money will allow the police department to add several officers and to fund domestic violence support and the Gang Task Force. It will also fund a fire department battalion chief position and two sheriff’s office positions.

Other changes include additional ART bus service to the DHS building from western Columbia Heights, the planting of 300-400 trees around the county, and additional money to fund implementation of the Community Energy Plan and the Natural Resource Management plan.

The additional funding is possible despite the board’s commitment to hold the real estate tax rate steady. See more information about the County Board’s final budget, which is set for approval on Saturday.

  • Lou

    Good for Lubber Run and good for the Libraries.

    It’s almost as if they read ARLnow.

  • What did they waste on the Fartisphere?

    • Wayne Kubicki

      I’ve been told an additional $500K for the Artisphere for FY12 – but I don’t see that mentioned anywhere on the County website yet. I believe more details are forthcoming.

      • TGEoA

        Wayne,

        How much has the county spent on this so far?

        • Wayne Kubicki

          TGEoA,

          This is a much more complicated question than one might think – I’ll try to post a complete answer to it later this evening.

          Wayne

  • mehoo

    Funding for safety net/ampitheatre/libraries, no tax increase, crime and homelessness down…back to complaining about cupcakes and flipflops.

    • SoArlRes

      Hahaha! +1 😀

      • Joseph

        +1, nothing else to complain about, might as well.

  • Dems for New Leadership

    There’s an election this year and homeowners are fed up. Of course the Board is listening. They hope enough voters will forget by November to get Mary and Walter reelected.

    • There’s an election every year.

      • brendan

        details…

    • Bluemontsince1961

      This voter won’t forget. I am glad to see funding going for Lubber Run and libraries.

    • Thes

      In the years I’ve lived in this County for some time now, and I’ve noticed that oddly enough, people (by which I mean Virginia Republicans and their vassals, the Arlington Greens) start to claim every four years, in the low-turnout election year, that Arlington homeowners are now “fed up” or “finally fed up” with their supposedly super-high taxes. Then just as oddly, this “widespread anger” melts away the following year (the high-turnout Presidential election year) when the are often no candidates even filed for office against the Democrats. Its pretty clear now that this ebb and flow has a lot less to do with the tax rate, and a lot more to do with strategic partisan calculations…

      So, please.. if you’ve lost the last, say, 12 County Board elections, I can understand why you would be frustrated. And everyone is entitled to criticize the government. But if you’re serious about offering an alternative to the current regime, at least have the honesty and courage to admit you opposed the incumbents the last time they ran, too. And offer an alternative message that is based in reality, and doesn’t start with the premise that Arlingtonians are fundamentally unhappy. Because we aren’t.

      • mehoo

        Right, you aren’t because you have nothing to be fed up about.

      • Thes is so much more than an ACDC shill. He is Zimmerman’s water-boy too.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I’ve voted against the Board incumbents in every election for the past several cycles. I’m neither Republican or Democrat. I hope there will be genuine alternate candidates with realistic alternate and realistic messages in the high-turnout election years, not just in “off-year” elections.

    • mehoo

      Forget what?

      What will they do when there’s no election that’s so bad?

  • But it is it safe?

    Lubber Run was closed because of safety issues. Will this funding address some or all of them?

    • It’s not clear at this point. The stage is one of the main safety concerns — perhaps that will be torn down as a temporary measure.

    • Lou

      From what I read, it seemed it was shut down when they pulled funding for the performances. Then is just sat and degraded in place, and maybe safety issues arose because of neglect of the facility.

    • LeRad

      First the county closed Lubber Run Amphitheatre because of a lack of program funds (about the time Artisphere appeared…) Then Parks declared that the stage itself was unsafe because it had reached the end of it’s “lifespan” and because light towers rusted through due to “deferred maintenance”. Now the county says it will remove the stage and try to find a way to have some activity there, but the $100,000 in the new budget may really be headed toward a two-year flood plain study…

  • A Bright Idea for Libaries

    Uncoventional, perhaps. Maybe the library could publish a wish list of books and other materials they want to acquire. They could get a lot of targeted donations this way.

    • Eponymous Coward

      Unfortunately, you can’t donate an e-book.

  • Yes, a Tax Increase

    “the overall tax and fee burden for the average Arlington homeowner nets to a 1.4 % increase” so states the Board. Wow, an admission of raising taxes, although couched within a listing of all the wonderful spending that is planned.

    A tax increase is a tax increase. Has the County Board ever in recent memory decided not to increase taxes? Any time the Board elects to collect $1 more in property tax than the previous year, that is a tax increase. (Don’t be fooled by the “rate” which is adjusted to fulfill the tax increase desired.)

    • no, not a tax increase

      Stop abusing words. It’s absurd to call this a tax increase.

    • AllenB

      Let’s try this another way. If your personal income goes up and the federal tax rates stays the same, you end up paying more in taxes. Is that a tax increase as well?

      • borf

        Some people here will actually answer “yes.”

        • AllenB

          I agree… but at least we then know who needs to up their meds.

    • brendan

      no. no. no.

      did they vote to raise taxes? no. was the tax rate increased? no. The tax base increased while taxes remained steady. Yes, this leads to an increase in the amount collected but it’s not the same as raising taxes.

      Say for example in some magic fairy land that supply-side economic theory actually worked and produced the growth that proponents always promise… Using your logic, cutting taxes would actually be a tax hike.

      • borf

        😆 on the supply-side = tax hike thing.

    • CPA

      Fees are going up. A lot of fees should be called taxes, as they are not optional. But its popular now for governments to call things fees. Talk about abusing words!

      • South Arlington

        Which fees exactly? The only one I am forced to pay is the car sticker, and that stayed the same cost.

        • CPA

          The water/sewer rate. That is in the proposed budget, and is part of the reason for the average 1.4% household tax increase this year.

        • Hilarious

          What about the dog licensing fee, the food service fees, zone parking sticker fee, variance fees, sign fees, water turn on fee, certificate of occupancy fee, home occupation fees, inspection fees, administrative review fees, zoning fees, use fees, use permits, dance hall permits, swimming pool fees, parking lot fees, vehicle dealership fees, satellite dish antennae fee, driveway fee, request for sink letters.

          You are right…. What fees?

    • Hilarious

      I like last year when they raised the taxes 8.3% and said something to the effect of “we’re not raising taxes, we’re just trying to keep revenue similar to the previous years … to account for the decrease in property values.” Now that they’re getting 6.3% more money I guess they’re going to roll back those increases, right?

      That aside, I think the current Arlington administrators are doing a great job administering the county. I mean look at the new Washington-Lee High School, completed in 2008! What a beautiful building! …Those trailers they just received because they built a building that is OBE only three years after being built will look great! We should add more and put them on the football field to make it a bit more challenging to throw the football! …AND HE CATCHES THE RETURN OFF TRAILER 27’S AIR CONDITIONING UNIT…. TOUCHDOWN!

  • Yes, a Tax Increase

    Unlike the federal tax system that has a set rate, the County Board starts each budget year with the question: “How much tax to we want to collect?” After they decide on an amount of tax to collect, the Board then adjusts the “rate.” This year, like so many others, the Board decided to increase the amount of taxes collected. The Board acknowledges that it is increasing the tax burden: “the overall tax and fee burden for the average Arlington homeowner nets to a 1.4 % increase.” I agree with the Board that it is raising taxes.

    If the Board wants to set a tax rate and not change it every year in order to match the amount of taxes that the Board wants to collect, then yes, you could compare the federal system to the County system. But they are different methods.

    • CPA

      It’s funny that liberals still fear “tax raiser” moniker. They should just have the balls to say that they want all these government services and are willing to raise taxes to pay for them. That applies to any political affiliation. There’s nothing wrong with that. You should be able to stand up and defend your spending. The more educated ones have been able to proudly do just that. Running scared from the “tax and spend” label is so 1990’s.

      • mehoo

        You should have the balls to admit that keeping tax rates steady isn’t a tax increase. If you’re a CPA, you’d be laughed out of the room if you said the government has increased someone’s taxes because they got wealthier.

        • CPA

          Most of my colleagues would actually disagree with you. I’m sorry to have to tell you that in a public forum.

          • President Barack Obama.

            highly doubtful you’re a CPA

          • mehoo

            Um, no, I say they wouldn’t.

            Look, this is really about nothing more than the term “tax increase.” It’s a politically-charged term, therefore it’s very important. And EVERYONE understands it to mean a tax RATE increase, not a tax burden increase. EVERYONE. Trying to twist it into something else is cynical partisanship.

            In any event, let’s use language you can’t possible abuse: the County Board did not increase tax rates. There. Done.

          • CPA

            Taxes increased. My taxes went up. When I prepared my taxes, they had gone up from last year. I informed my client that his taxes were higher this year.

            So say we all.

          • mehoo

            “Taxes increased” is a clever twist on “a tax increase.” It’s still inaccurate. Taxes didn’t increase. Some people’s wealth increased, so their tax bills increased.

            Again – the ONLY reason you’d want to use the words this way is to pretend like there was an increase in the tax rate, or to imply that tax rates should have been lowered to account for increases in the tax burden. If you think that, just say it, don’t play word games.

          • brendan

            an increase in the tax base does not mean an increase in taxes!

            Another fun example for the folks that still don’t get it…

            Say you have a 10% tax on toilet paper to offset waste management costs. You collected $50 million last year off it.

            This year 5,000 new a$$ wipers moved in and are paying the toilet paper tax so the county now collects $55 million in taxes. Did the county raise taxes or are more people just wiping their a$$es?

          • CPA

            Show your work.

          • brendan

            check behind your bushes 🙂

          • 1 + 1 = 2

            The toilet paper example is not how the County operates. The County starts with the gross amount of tax it wants to collect and then backs in to a rate that will generate that amount based on the already-known assessments. For your toilet paper example, the County would say “this year we want to raise $55” and thereafter set the rate to accomplish the goal.

            (tax rate) x (total assessments county-wide) = tax to be collected.

            PS: Thank you CPA!

          • brendan

            i understand your point… but it doesn’t matter if the county looked into a magic eight ball, threw darts or sought the help of an unlicensed clown.

            if taxes rates stayed the same, how can you say the county raised them?

          • South Arlington

            Even under your explanation, it is being ignored that there are new dwellings, businesses and developments that are now paying taxes that didn’t exist last tax year. The tax base has expanded which contributes funds towards the target tax revenue the County established.

          • mehoo

            Those new businesses experienced a tax increase of infinity because they paid zero taxes last year!!!! Der dee der.

    • brendan

      Again…. using your logic, if they had voted to cut taxes by 1% they would have actually been raising them by .4%. There’s no #winning with you.

      • CPA

        Percentages do not work that way.

        • brendan

          exactly!

        • mehoo

          Yes, percentages don’t work that way! So stop abusing them.

    • mehoo

      It’s totally misleading to call it a tax increase when tax rates didn’t go up. Sorry, but the term “tax increase” has already been taken. Use “tax burden increase” – like the County Board’s actual language – if you want.

      • brendan

        i usually agree w/ you on this stuff, and it’s certainly a complicated equation, but i think ‘burden’ is a not the best term either for addressing the amount collected since the increase in collections could be due to any number of things – from new residents to people with higher incomes paying more for a house, and when calculating using the net average it doesn’t tell us anything about distribution….all of which makes calculating ‘burden’ per capita a tricky and hardly exact science.

        • mehoo

          I don’t mind if you object to “burden” either.

      • 4Arl

        Take a look at this language from the FY2008 budget adoption:
        The Arlington County Board today approved its Fiscal Year 2008 budget, which includes no rate increase in real estate or personal property taxes and restores human services that had been cut earlier this year after a loss of state and federal funding. Over half of residential property owners will have a decrease in real estate taxes this year.
        Decrease in real estate taxes.

  • Yes, a Cookie increase

    Last year, I ate one cookie after every meal. This year I am eating two cookies after every meal. Have I increased my cookie eating?

    Last year, the County Board elected to collect $x in property taxes. This year the Board plans on collecting $x +$1. Has the Board increased the property taxes?

    • brendan

      Econ classes aren’t always the most fun but highly recommend taking one sometime if you’re going to pretend to know anything about the subject.

    • mehoo

      Yes, a cookie increase. Just like those who pay more taxes because of an increase in property values had a wealth increase, or property value increase, or tax burden increase, or tax bill increase.

      But not a tax increase.

      Let’s try this much better analogy: last week you drove 100 miles and paid $40 for gas. This week, you drove 200 miles and paid $80 for gas. Did gas prices go up?

      • Suburban Not Urban

        Better yet, lets say I pay $2/gal for gas, and the tax on it is 10%, so I pay $.20/gal, the price of gas goes up to $4/gal – but the tax is still 10% – I pay $.40/gal. Have my taxes increased? – hell yea….
        The reason it’s a tax increase is because we pay tax bills in $ not percentages.

        • mehoo

          No. Sorry. All you’re doing is making the term “tax increase” vague and absurd.

    • Thes

      @Cookie increase: You are forgetting that population and the number of taxable properties also went up last year. If we go from 100 people eating 50 cookies to 110 people eating 53 cookies, average cookies eaten per person goes DOWN even when total cookies eaten goes up. In other words, if there is more taxable property (because new offices, condos and apartment buildings went online), individual taxes paid per person/household/property might, on average, go down.

      • brendan

        i still prefer my toilet paper example but this one is a little less crass and probably illustrates the point better.

  • Shane

    The “Arlnow.com” poll on housing funding? HA HA HA HA HA. An “online” poll is supposed to measure public opinion in the County? As opposed to, say, the 58% to 70% of the vote the pro-housing candidates get in County Board elections.

    Laughable.

  • 4Arl

    ARLnow poll idea- define “tax increase” as in tax rate or taxes paid, or maybe there is another choice. Right or wrong, the winning answer rules in the comments

  • 4Arl

    Looks like they are beginning to post some of the details of the work sessions. If you care where and how they add the 3 hours per week, now is the time to make your case for what the schedule should be. The county manager’s alternatives all appear to leave each branch closed one day a week.

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