Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
The Arlington County Board’s budget guidance for FY 2015 fails to provide appropriate guidance on important issues. The guidance was adopted after a flawed process. The guidance reflects a status quo mindset in an era crying out for a new direction.
The County Board needs a completely different, more open and more transparent process for adopting its annual budget guidance. Here is an example of a better process:
- publish a draft set of guidelines 60 days prior to the target date for final adoption;
- invite all citizens and citizens advisory groups and committees, like the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, to comment in writing within 30 days of publication of the draft guidelines;
- post all such public comments on the County website;
- hold a public hearing on the draft guidelines and all written comments, then
- adopt final guidelines.
In significant part because of the flawed process the County Board followed, this year’s budget guidelines fail to provide appropriate guidance on important issues.
Here are some examples of important issues that are not adequately addressed, or not addressed at all, in this year’s guidelines:
- the seriousness and long-term nature of Arlington’s escalating office vacancy rate;
- the impact on Arlington’s residential tax payers of the long-term stagnation in the valuation of Arlington’s commercial tax base;
- the long-term declining share of Arlington’s operating budget dedicated to Arlington Public Schools even before enrollment increases are taken into account;
- the need to devote a higher share of Arlington’s operating budget to APS (even higher than historic levels) to account for surging enrollment;
- the need to introduce rigorous, unbiased cost/benefit tests to evaluate major capital projects like the Aquatics Center;
- the impact on the operating budget, and Arlington’s AAA/AAA credit rating, of the rising debt payments needed to finance the escalating cost of Arlington’s capital projects;
- the failure to impose adequate cost controls or caps on Arlington’s long-term commitment to affordable housing;
- the adverse impact of all of the foregoing trends on Arlington’s ability to fund basic social safety net services, and
- why all of the foregoing trends lead to the conclusion that Arlington needs to re-focus its budget to ensure that core government services are given priority for funding.
The County Board is treading water at a time when it needs to swim vigorously and resolutely in a better direction.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
Everyone has flat screen TVs already so how about a more interesting Black Friday special? The ARLnow Press Club for free, to try out the daily Early Morning Notes email…
There’s not a whole lot going on in Arlington today, save for activity at local shopping centers, so we’re going to fast forward right to the top story countdown. Here…
Statues of Liberty gives thanks this holiday season and grateful for a few things this year.
It’s turkey time. Thanksgiving Eve is upon us and extra revelry can be expected at some local bars tonight, ahead of the holiday. Please be careful on the roads and…
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 76th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 25th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to huge 14 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garlands, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Art House 7 is a small art studio in Arlington – offering instruction in painting, ceramics, sewing and more. We are looking for kind, dedicated people who love both creating and teaching.
Ceramic Teachers are needed to teach wheel-throwing to adults and 6-12th graders and to teach hand building to elementary grades. Classes have 3-8 students.
Drawing teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. For kids, we offer cartooning, manga or traditional drawing. For adults, we only offer traditional drawing.
Painting teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. We offer oil, acrylic or watercolor for adults or teens. All elementary classes use acrylic and tempera.
NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.
Outstanding Young Artist