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.
In last week’s column, I explained why a new normal has arrived for Arlington’s budget. I concluded that business as usual in setting budget priorities must change. In response, one commenter named “Courthouse Diva” said “[I] love the idea of defining core services — everything does not need to be core.”
Courthouse Diva nailed it.
Arlington needs to develop standards to define core services, and then use those standards to decide which services and programs are core services and those that are at the edge or outside of that core.
How does Arlington handle this now?
For the FY 14 budget now under review, the County Board essentially told the County Manager, “If you think there’s going to be a $50 million shortfall, design a budget that eliminates that shortfall by relying half on spending cuts and half on tax increases.” The manager was then left to recommend a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, using that very general guidance.
How would a core services approach be different?
Under a core services approach, programs and services at the center of the core would have much greater protection from any cuts. The farther out you move from the core, there would be less and less protection. The size of a cut as a percentage of the total expenditures in its category would be greater the farther out from the core.
An example of how a core services approach might work is illustrated in this chart from Regina, California:
I am not suggesting that Arlington ought to adopt every last detail of Regina’s core services approach. Arlington must adopt its own customized version of a core services approach, and then apply it to decide the priorities in its budget.
For example, if Arlington had a core services approach, the County Board could have provided this kind of guidance to the County Manager: “If you think there’s going to be a $50 million shortfall, design a budget that eliminates that shortfall by relying 25% on tax increases and 75% on spending cuts to programs and services outside the core.” This is a much better way to decide on budget priorities than the way Arlington does it now.
I will devote more future columns to examples of specific Arlington programs and services that would be treated differently — and much more appropriately — if a core services approach were in place. Here is one much-discussed example: Arlington should extricate itself completely from the Artisphere. There is a place for public support for culture and the arts in Arlington. However, such support belongs at the very discretionary end of the core spectrum.
In the new normal, programs at that end of the spectrum must be subject to deeper cuts to protect programs and services closer to the core.
Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village