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Arlington Plugs Budget Gap

by ARLnow.com July 11, 2011 at 10:57 am 1,826 18 Comments

The Arlington County Board has voted to plug a $221,088 budget gap caused by a cut in federal grants.

The board voted to use its existing, two-year-old Budget Stabilization Fund to make up the gap, caused by a $442,077 reduction in federal community block grants. The grants are used to fund local human services and education projects, to support affordable housing and homeless prevention initiatives, to improve neighborhood safety and to enhance economic opportunities for residents.

In a press release, the county cautioned that additional federal funding cuts are likely next year.

“It is a good thing that Arlington has the reserves available to get us through FY 2012,” said County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman. “This is, however, a temporary solution. We expect the federal government to make far deeper cuts in FY 2013, cuts that may seriously affect programs that create affordable housing, house the homeless, provide training for the unemployed and more. We are starting now to make contingency plans with our non-profit partners for FY 2013.”

  • BerryBerryCold

    Sounds like our government needs to live within its means.

    • AllenB

      Sounds like it is.

    • doodly

      That’s exactly what it’s doing. They didn’t borrow money to cover the gap, did they? No, they responsibly put aside cash in the past to cover such problems.

      The county is well-run, no matter how much it annoys you.

    • speonjosh

      As others have pointed out, they are. However, leaving that aside, it’s not necessarily obvious that the government should “live within its means.” It’s not like a family budget. Spending by the government can have enormously powerful impact on the local economy, helping to keep it going in downturns, continuing to provide services to everyone, especially those neediest in times of economic distress. This “government needs to live within its means” argument is heavily leaned on now by the Tea Party and some Republicans because it’s one of those trite arguments that seems like “common sense” and people sitting around their kitchen table hear it and go “Yeah! WE have to do it – THEY should do it, too!!” But it’s not that simple and the politicians who throw it around (leaving aside the simple-headed ones who actually believe it) are just mouthing it to score political points.

      • doodly

        All true. Thanks for the larger perspective.

  • Arlingtron

    Sure hope that $442,077 balances the Federal budget. Nothing like taking it from the people who need the most help.

    • BerryBerryCold

      Multiply that $442,077 by the number of counties in the Republic that are >= Arlington’s population and you’ll see that it is not insignificant.

      • Thes

        That would be about 650 million dollars in national cuts for the neediest and/or poorest residents. Or about 14 days of George Bush’s “search for weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.

    • Stu Pendus

      Nobody is taking away the precious services money. Arlington can step in and handle the slack. Which is how it should be with local services. Business continues.

    • seriously…

      …get real! As Berry said, multiply that out by every jurisdiction receiving those dollars and it is going to be fairly significant. You could make your argument about every Federal (i.e. American taxpayers’) dollar that is expended…”it isn’t that much, so how is cutting xyz program going to make a difference”. You have to make sacrifices everywhere and by everyone. Families make cuts to get by and so should Government. Every day in the business world, companies and their employees are asked to “do more with less” so how come Federal, State & local Government can’t be asked to do the same thing. Eliminate bureaucracy and become more efficient and do more with less. It’s as if the only answer is for Government to take more money from the citizens and then spend it.

      • speonjosh

        Oy.
        Trust me, federal, state and local governments ARE doing more with less.
        But the fact is that government IS different than families or businesses. They play a very different role in society and civilization than those other two institutions do. It’s enormously tempting and easy to equate them in our mind and say things like “Families make cuts to get by and so should Government.” It also leaves out some very important parts of the story –

        1. The Bush tax cuts shoulder a heavy part of the burden of blame for our current huge deficits.
        2. Two wars and huge spending on the “War on Terror” shoulder another heavy part of that burden.
        3. The entitlement programs, with or without so-called Obamacare, pretty much take up the remaining blame.

        This leaves all the discretionary spending that actually gets targeted for cuts – including the $400K mentioned in this piece. Cutting these programs will make about zero percent impact in our budget deficits and long-term debt. You can trot out all the anecdotes about $400 toilet seats and redundant bureaucracies you want – these may be perfectly good examples of waste and abuse, but fixing them is not going to solve the larger problem.

        Finally, as far as “Government [taking] more money from the citizens and then spend[ing] it.” What does that mean? It’s not as if the government is some sort of giant vacuum cleaning monster. The government spends money approved by the appropriate legislative body. Using taxes approved by the appropriate legislative body. Now, I’m the first to admit that our political system is dysfunctional and many politicians are beholden to campaign donors. But who are those who are giving so much money they can have that influence? Not people like you or me, I’ll tell you that much. It’s those who have enough money to spare a $100,000 here and $100,000 there. What are their interests? In what way is their influence felt on the budget? For $400K block grants to communities for affordable housing, etc? I doubt it. I doubt it.

    • R

      Maybe I need it the most. I have a family to support and bills to pay. I haven’t gotten any pay raises the last few years. The cost of everything from gas to food has gone up the last few years. Yes, I am quite certain that right now in my mind I need it the most.

  • B

    So, the Board gives out 25 grants, worth $249,077, to Arlington-based arts organizations.

    Then plugs a $221,088 budget gap with the Budget Stabilization Fund.

    And warns that next year we may have “cuts that may seriously affect programs that create affordable housing, house the homeless, provide training for the unemployed and more.”

    Interesting.

    • Steve

      Will they have enough money to feed the babies who don’t have enough to eat, and provide shoes for children with no shoes on their feet, plus house the people living in the street? Oh, I hope there’s a solution.

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        Personally, I think you’re slippin’, slippin’, slippin . . .

      • B

        Slippin, Slippin, Slippin…into the future of the ArlCo budget:

        “Sorry homeless people, but Signature Theatre is putting on Hairspray!”

  • KalashniKEV

    OMG, I would love to close that gap…

  • RosRes

    You guys really do cheer me up! Its very fun to read some of these blog entries. I mean whre else can you find people who are annoyed that Arlington can cover its budget gaps, and start planning ahead for the 2013 budget! I guess I can see why some people left el Dorado after all…

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