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

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.

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