Submit Content

Peter’s Take: Arlington’s Commercial Assessment Fiasco

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.

Peter RousselotWhy?

That’s the key question after ARLnow.com broke the story last week about Arlington’s skyrocketing commercial property assessments.

Fair market value can rise or fall from year to year, but as Ellis Schaeffer commented last week:

[H]ow do you explain an average of [a] 65.8% increase on the 11 business survey provided in the article? Is it merely a change in methodology? Did I miss the singular event in the past 365 days (i.e., mineral deposits, or a new casino) that made Clarendon properties suddenly SIGNIFICANTLY more valuable?

In one fell swoop, Arlington’s commercial assessment fiasco has cast a dark cloud over all of the following:

  • the new initiatives for economic competitiveness touted in the County Board Chair’s New Year’s Day speech,
  • the integrity of Arlington’s commercial property assessment process (is it properly insulated from politics?), and
  • the reliability of the revenue forecasts in Arlington’s FY 2015 budget (which depend upon the validity of the valuation of Arlington’s commercial real estate).

In the wake of this ARLnow.com bombshell, these are the elements of the public statement that the County Board should have issued:

We

  • are alarmed by the enormous annual increases in so many commercial property assessments,
  • are determined to get to the bottom of this, and
  • have directed the County Manager to analyze and share with the public relevant information about each of these categories of commercial property:
    1. all properties assessed at a value 50 percent or more than last year,
    2. all properties assessed at a value that is between 40 percent and 49 percent more, and between 30 percent and 39 percent more, than last year, and
    3. all properties which experienced value increases in those same three percentage brackets (30 to 39, 40 to 49, and 50 or more), for each of the prior two years (from FY 2012 to FY 2013, and from FY 2013 to FY 2014).

ARLnow.com profiled 11 commercial properties in Clarendon alone. But, Michelle Cowan, Arlington’s Director of Management and Finance, advised the County Board there were about 90 commercial properties County-wide that increased in value by 50 percent or more.

I find both numbers (11 and 90) to be large and disturbing. But, limiting any review only to those 90 properties — as the County Government is planning — is far too narrow an approach.

To really get to the bottom of this, and ensure transparency, we need a much broader compilation, analysis and public discussion.

The County Board should step up now, and direct the County Manager immediately to broaden the inquiry to include all of the additional categories of commercial property — noted above — that are now conspicuously missing from the announced plan.

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.

Recent Stories

The four people reported to be seriously injured when a car plowed into Ireland’s Four Courts last night may not have survived but for the quick actions of fellow pub-goers…

(Updated at 7:55 a.m.) Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse caught fire after a car barreled into it at the height of dinnertime Friday. The fire is now out after a…

After a steamy stretch, Mother Nature is rewarding us with a pair of new-perfect days. We hope you are able to get out there and enjoy the weather tonight and…

Adoptable Pet of the Week: Kimchi

The adorable Kimchi, a black and white Guinea Pig is the newest Adoptable Pet of the Week.

Do you struggle with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, trauma or anger? Are
you ready to make a change?

Lauren K. Nickum, LCSW, CSAC from Peaceful Mind Solutions is now taking new
clients for psychotherapy. Lauren has over 10 years of experience treating
mental health disorders and general life stress in adults and adolescents. For
more information visit
peacefulmindsolutions.com.

Submit your own Community Post here.

(This Community Post was written by Signature Theatre and underwritten by Embracing Arlington Arts.)

Signature Theatre just released single tickets for all 33rd season productions, which highlights the organization’s long-time relationship with legendary composer Stephen Sondheim. Beginning with the musical adaptation of The Color Purple and irreverent No Place to Go, the season continues with three Sondheim musicals, the DC premieres of Off-Broadway hit Which Way to the Stage and Pulitzer Prize finalist Selling Kabul, the Tony Award®-winning rock musical Passing Strange, and return of Signature’s cabaret series honoring legendary artists.

“Last November, the world lost an icon. The death of Stephen Sondheim was a blow to everyone in the theater community. Signature Theatre would not be the same without Sondheim — he IS Signature’s ‘signature.’ This season, we are honoring the legend with productions of Into the Woods, Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd dedicated to his memory. These shows represent the diversity and range of Sondheim,” said Signature’s Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner about the new season.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

MEGA Wine Tasting

Join us Sunday, Aug 28 from 12-3pm for our MEGA Wine Tasting

How it Works:

We’ve invited all our wine vendors that we work with to bring 6-10 wines in their portfolio (wines that are usually not carried at Osteria

Running & Strength Training Group Workout #1

Join our first workout of Coach Kate’s fall Running & Strength Training Program on Tuesday, August 30 at 6:30 a.m. at Oak Grove Park.

First/trial session is Free Of Charge. If you would like to join the program — which

×

Subscribe to our mailing list