(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan will propose a 3.2 cent real estate tax rate hike when she outlines her proposed budget to the County Board Wednesday afternoon, ARLnow.com has confirmed.
Donnellan’s recommendation, if approved by the County Board, would raise the overall tax rate to 100.3 cents per $100 in assessed value for residential property. It would be the first time since 2001 that Arlington’s residential tax rate has crossed the $1 mark.
Donnellan is expected to tell the Board tomorrow that the county is facing increased expenses as a result of more public school students and more county facilities — like the Arlington Mill Community Center — that must be staffed and programmed. At the same time, county tax revenue is flat as commercial property assessments feel the effects of BRAC, which has resulted in numerous Department of Defense offices moving out of Arlington.
On Friday, Donnellan announced 46 job cuts as part of her effort to close a $25-50 million gap in the upcoming county budget. She has said that her recommended budget will include both spending cuts and tax hikes.
While a rate of 100.3 cents may seem high compared to Arlington’s 81.8 cent rate just six years ago, for tax year 2007, it is not the highest rate county taxpayers have paid in recent memory. In 2000 and 2001, the rate was 102.3 cents.
It’s also lower than some neighboring jurisdictions. This past year, Arlington’s rate was $0.971 per $100 in assessed value, compared to:
- Fairfax County: $1.075
- Loudoun County: $1.235
- Prince William County: $1.209
- City of Alexandria: $0.998
- City of Falls Church: $1.270
- District of Columbia: $0.850
- Montgomery County: $0.838
- Prince George’s County: $1.072
The County Board may, as it has done in the past, set a different rate than the manager’s recommendation. Last year, the Board approved a 1.3 cent tax rate increase, to the current 97.1 cents, after Donnellan recommended a 0.5 cent increase. In 2011, however, the Board agreed with Donnellan’s recommendation and held the tax rate steady from the year prior, at 95.8 cents.
Arlington’s overall real estate tax rate includes a 1.3 cent tax for stormwater management. For commercial properties, the county imposes a 12.5 cent Transportation Capital Fund tax on top of the residential rate.
Hat tip to Wayne Kubicki
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Remember those long lines many of you experienced in Arlington in last year’s presidential election? The easiest and cheapest solution to lines like those: no-excuse absentee voting for all voters — or even for some categories of voters like those 65 years and older. But, Republicans in the Virginia legislature have blocked every effort to pass such laws.
Instead, Virginia Republican legislators have been trying to make it much harder to vote. Last year, they tried to get a photo ID requirement enacted, but Governor McDonnell (perhaps trying to burnish his VP credentials) stopped that from happening. This year, the Republicans are right back at it.
On February 5, the Virginia House and Senate passed two bills which would make the strict voter ID law enacted just last year even stricter. These bills, introduced by Republican Senator Dick Black and Republican Representative Mark Cole, “would ban voters from presenting a utility bill, pay stub, government or Social Security card as proof of identity — all forms of ID allowed under the current law.”
There is no reason to change the 2012 law so soon after it was enacted. The proposed 2013 legislation would subject Virginia voters to three new voter ID requirements in three years. There is no justification for that many changes over that short of a period of time. The confusion this would create could lead many voters to show up at the polls in 2013 with only forms of ID that were valid last year, but not this year.
Another proposed photo ID bill introduced by Republican Senator Mark Obenshain “imposes burdensome new voter identification requirements, could cost Virginia millions of dollars to implement, and may ensnare Virginia in costly litigation.” At a House of Delegates subcommittee meeting last month, representatives “from the League of Women Voters to the NAACP — opposed the photo ID requirement as costly and unnecessary, saying it would disenfranchise minority, elderly and low-income Virginians.”
Disenfranchising these categories of voters is precisely the goal of photo ID laws — despite vehement denials from the Republicans sponsoring them. They claim it’s to prevent fraud. But documented cases of such fraud are minuscule while the number of voters likely to be disenfranchised is in the tens or hundreds of thousands.
The costs to democracy and our pocketbooks of these voter ID laws far outweigh the benefits — a point brushed aside by Republicans who otherwise boast about their commitment to sound fiscal policy.
Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
The current Harris Teeter supermarket and Mercedes-Benz dealership near Ballston could eventually be replaced with high-rise buildings under a new land use plan that’s up for County Board consideration this weekend.
On Saturday, the Board will consider an addendum to its 1995 North Quincy Street Plan. The amendment modifies the plan for the area around the Mercedes dealership and adds a plan for a parcel of land bounded by Carlin Springs Road, Glebe Road, N. Thomas Street and the Hyde Park Condominiums. The latter parcel includes the Harris Teeter store and its surface parking lot.
The plan “includes a series of overarching planning principles aimed at transforming this predominantly auto-oriented area into a more vibrant, mixed-use urban neighborhood at Ballston’s southern gateway, with a much more pedestrian-friendly built environment,” according to the staff report. It calls for 12-14 story mixed-use buildings along Glebe Road, tapered down to 5-story buildings on the edges of the parcels closer to lower-density residential neighborhoods.
The plan also calls for ground floor retail space along Glebe Road, improvements to the Glebe Road intersections with N. Randoph and Quincy Streets, extensions of N. Tazewell Street and Randolph Street, a portion of open green space between N. Thomas Street and the new Tazewell Street extension, a landscaped plaza at the corner of Glebe and Quincy, and a series of “distinctive” architectural features.
No immediate changes would be mandated under the plan; instead, it would encourage gradual redevelopment through zoning modifications. Should a mixed-use building replace the existing Harris Teeter, the store may opt to move in to the ground floor of the new building once it’s built.
Part of the plan area is already slated for redevelopment — last year the County Board approved a new six-story apartment building on the Goodyear site at the corner of Glebe and N. Carlin Springs Road.
Work on the addendum started in 2009 as a joint project between county staff and Arlington’s Long Range Planning Committee. It incorporates feedback from the county’s Planning and Transportation commissions.
Some nearby residents, particularly residents of the Hyde Park Condominiums, have expressed objections to the plan. Among other objections, Hyde Park residents said that the maximum building height along Glebe Road should be 12 stories — the same height as their building — instead of 14 stories.
Image (below) via Google Maps
The seven-day event, which runs through Sunday, features a dozen restaurants offering a fixed price menu of $10 lunches and $25 dinners.
“This is a great way to get to know the restaurants on the Pike and a reason to revisit your favorites,” said the Columbia Pike Restaurant Week website.
The following restaurants are participating in the event.
- Bangkok 54
- Café Sazon
- Lost Dog
- Mom’s Pizza
- P. Brennan’s
- Pines of Italy
- Red Rocks Pizza
- Restaurante Abi
- Rincome Thai
- Taqueria Poblano
- Twisted Vines
- William Jeffrey’s Tavern
Disclosure: Columbia Pike Restaurant Week organizer CPRO is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
The incident started at around 4:00 p.m. near Costco. Police say two cars were turning left on 15th Street S. from S. Fern Street when, for some unknown reason, tempers flared and horns started beeping. The two vehicles, a 2008 Chevrolet Impala and a 2004 Mercedes-Benz S450, made the turn and pulled to the side of the 500 block of 15th Street S.
A 16-year-old juvenile and an adult got out of the Impala and started arguing with a man who got out of the Mercedes, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The juvenile punched the Mercedes driver in the face, then both parties returned to the Impala, he said.
Before the they could drive off, the Mercedes driver pulled a wooden 2×4 post from the ground and smashed the back window of the Impala, Sternbeck said. At that time all five occupants of the Impala jumped out of the car and allegedly assailed the Mercedes driver.
They punched the man, dragged him to the sidewalk, struck him with the 2×4 multiple times, smashed the front windshield of his car, and then dragged him into some bushes, according to Sternbeck. The victim reportedly suffered severe cuts to his hands, requiring stitches; a fractured right elbow; bruising to his upper body, including his arms and face; and large welt on top of his head.
During the fracas, a neighbor came out and tried to break up the fight. The neighbor’s efforts were rebuffed and he or she maintained a safe distance from the fight due to fear, Sternbeck said.
The four adults in the Impala — Lavell Jeffries, Bernard Payton, Larry Johnson and Jeremiah Greer, all from D.C. and between the ages of 18 and 19 — were charged with malicious wounding by mob and held on a $2,000 bond. The juvenile was charged with malicious wounding by mob and destruction of property, and was released into the custody of his mother.
The driver of the Mercedes, 34-year-old Maurice Cox of Arlington, was charged with DUI and destruction of property.
The Arlington County Fire Department battled at least three fires over the long holiday weekend.
On Saturday, firefighters extinguished a fire in a detached shed behind a home on the 2900 block of 7th Street N. in Lyon Park. The smoky fire spread to an adjacent fence and caused minor damage to adjacent sheds, but otherwise did not damage any houses, according to ACFD spokesman Gregg Karl.
On Monday, Arlington firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at a house on Shadow Walk in Falls Church, just off Little Falls Road near the Arlington border. Karl was unable to provide additional information about that blaze. ACFD was also called to a small fire on an apartment balcony at 901 N. Monroe Street in Virginia Square. The fire was contained to the balcony, Karl said.
Photo (left) courtesy @CAPT258. Photo (right) courtesy Peter Roof.
Wakefield Captures District Championship — On Friday, the Wakefield High School boy’s basketball team defeated Mount Vernon 69-60 to become the National District champions. Wakefield is now competing in the Northern Region regional tournament. Yorktown, which fell 42-82 to Wakefield in the National District tournament, is also competing as a lower seed in the Northern Region tournament. [Northern Virginia Sports]
Neighbors Want Security Guard at New Homeless Shelter — Residents of the Woodbury Heights Condominium in Courthouse are pressing Arlington officials to place a 24-hour security guard at the county’s planned year-round homeless shelter at 2020 14th Street N. Residents say they’re worried about an increase in crime as a result of the shelter moving next to their building. A resident’s Freedom of Information Act request revealed that there have been just under 6 police responses to the existing shelter per year, on average, between 1994 and 2011, mostly for alcohol-related incidents. [Arlington Mercury]
Arlington Tourism Tax Bill Passes General Assembly — A bill that would restore Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge is destined for the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell. The state legislature approved the bill, which will restore the tax authority — which is used to fund tourism promotion — for three years. [Sun Gazette]
Conservative Tech Biz Booming in Arlington — Business is booming for a small Arlington-based conservative digital advocacy company. The co-founder of Red Edge, which is based above an antique shop in Lyon Park, says he expects the business to double or triple this year as Republicans look to make up ground lost to Democrats in the online sphere. [New York Times]
Registration Open for Ballston LaunchPad Challenge — Registration is now open for the Ballston LaunchPad Challenge. The contest challenges entrepreneurs to come up with the “next great idea,” for a chance to pitch their innovation to billionaire Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. [Ballston BID]