Arlington Bracing For Major Budget Shortfall Next Year

Arlington is facing an estimated $50 million budget gap next fiscal year as the county’s prodigious rise in property values stalls and as federal and state cutbacks impact the county’s bottom line.

As reported by the Arlington County Taxpayers Association and confirmed to by a senior county official, a $50 million budget gap — about $25 million for the county government and $25 million for Arlington Public Schools — is projected for Fiscal Year 2014.

In a “budget outlook” presentation to the County Board and School Board on Wednesday, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said the economy is weak, local office vacancies are a concern and overall property values and county tax revenues are only expected to grow by 1 percent.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, is anticipating nearly $4 million of its shortfall to come from federal and state school funding cuts.

Donnellan has asked department heads to identify possible budget cuts in anticipation of a difficult budget process.

The budget concerns come as the county pushes forward with two major capital projects that have drawn scrutiny from local budget hawks: the planned Columbia Pike streetcar and the Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center (part of the parks bond on the Nov. 6 ballot). Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, is in the midst of an extended period of school building and expansion expected to cost more than $250 million over the next ten years.

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