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The Right Note: Ten Things to Talk to Your County Board About in August

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Mark KellyLike Congress, the Arlington County Board takes the month of August off from regular meetings. Members of Congress will be back in their districts, receiving an earful or two from constituents about big ticket items like immigration reform, the debt limit and the Affordable Care Act rollout (such as it is).

You may have some questions of your own, but here are ten suggested topics to talk to County Board Members about this month in anticipation of their final four meetings of the year:

1. Ask them to list three ways they could make doing business easier in Arlington and why they have not already done them.

2. Ask them to vote on a resolution requiring a public bond vote prior to any construction funds being allocated to the trolley. Yes, it is possible. No, it is not required. But, any project that will cost upwards of half a billion dollars deserves a public vote.

3. Ask them to freeze any further trolley-related spending until the $1 million super stop review is completed.

4. Ask them to give a line item account of the swelling cash on hand surplus: specifically, where the revenue came from, and what it is earmarked for.

5. Ask them to list their top five priorities for spending any excess revenue in the close-out process at the September meeting and provide an explanation of why that spending is more important than lowering tax rates.

6. Ask them to consider switching all new hires into a defined contribution rather than a defined benefit retirement system. See Detroit.

7. Ask them to vote to require all future County Managers live in Arlington.

8. Ask them to insert an exception in any backyard hen regulations to allow anyone living on a property adjoining a County Board Member to have chickens, regardless of the lot size.

9. Ask them to vote on a measure allowing any county employee, including Board Members, to voluntarily give up their current health care plan and trade it for the plan offered under the Affordable Care Act exchange. The Board has not been shy about making political statements on federal and state issues in the past. With all the bumps and bruises the President’s signature initiative is taking, a measure like this would be a strong show of support.

10. Ask them for their top three reasons to vote for Terry McAuliffe that do not include the name of his Republican opponent.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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