Press Club

County Braces for $24 Million Budget Gap

Arlington FY 2015 budget projectionsArlington’s projected budget gap for Fiscal Year 2015 is between $20 and $25 million, the county manager’s financial forecast shows.

County revenues are expected to increase 2.6 percent to $1.093 billion, thanks largely to higher residential real estate assessments. Residential real estate tax revenue is expected to increase 5.6 percent, while commercial real estate revenue is expected to stay the same or slightly decrease, due to weakness in the office market.

Expenses, meanwhile, are expected to increase, thanks to pay raises for some of the county’s 3,344 full-time employees, a rise in the county’s payment to Metro, and costs associated with new facilities like the year-round homeless shelter and the Long Bridge Park aquatics center.

Total county expenses are projected at $675.6 million, and that assumes cutting the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund and pay-as-you-go project financing in half, due to the removal of one-time funds. The county government will face a $7.7 million revenue/expenditure gap.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, will see its budget transfer from the county rise 3 percent to $425 million. Still, the school system is expected to face a $16 million budget gap due to a rise in enrollment.

County staff caution that the figures are still preliminary at this point. FY 2015 doesn’t begin until July 1, 2014.

“Current projections rely on incomplete revenue data and preliminary cost estimates,” staff wrote. “Projections will change as more data becomes available and further analysis is completed. Cost estimates could increase and revenue projections could decrease, exacerbating the problem, or estimates could also improve.”

County Manager Barbara Donnellan will present her budget projections to the County Board at its meeting tonight (Tuesday). The Board, in turn, will provide budget guidance to the manager and her staff.

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