Press Club

The Right Note: Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

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

Thumbs Up to Republican Voters

On Tuesday news broke that some Arlington precincts were running out of pre-printed Republican ballots. Only time will tell if Tuesday’s primary results in Arlington mean Democrat enthusiasm is down and Republican enthusiasm is up, or that Democrats crossed over to vote for the candidate they most wanted to run against their likely nominee — Hillary Clinton. We do know that statewide Virginia Republican Primary results smashed previous records.

Thumbs Up to Revisiting New Day-Care Regulations

County officials acknowledged that new day-care regulations in the works at the Department of Human Services were being met with significant opposition from parents and day-care providers. Beyond basic health and safety regulations, it is always a dangerous path to go down to tell parents what their child must do at day-care, particularly since parents are paying the bill.

Thumbs Down to the Advertised Tax Rate

The Arlington County Board’s decision to advertise a flat tax rate is not bad news, but it should not be celebrated either. The County Manager’s budget made it clear that revenues were going to meet budget needs, and he proposed a small rate cut to reflect that reality. Of course, in either scenario, you will be paying more. The average single family home assessment is up 2.8%. Even with a half-cent rate cut proposed by the Manager, that means your taxes will go up 2.3% or $133 annually — $163 with no rate cut. Last year, the average homeowner saw a $270 increase.

Thumbs Up to Hearings Changes

Board Chairman Libby Garvey announced changes to the upcoming budget and tax rate hearings. The tax rate hearing has been sparsely attended in recent years, so moving it to the front end of the two budget hearings makes a lot of sense. Lower tax advocates who do choose to speak will also now have an audience, albeit not necessarily a friendly one, as higher spending advocates will already be filling the room.

Tourism Tax Back

John Vihstadt proved he could have some influence in Richmond with Republican legislators. Unfortunately, it was to get them to approve a tax increase that will be used to fund additional tourism promotion. I’m not sure who the real winner is here as tourism is a given for Arlington due to its close proximity to our nation’s capitol. It does signal there may be an end to an icy era with Richmond created in large part due to a tussle with the Board Member Vihstadt replaced, and that is a good thing to be sure.

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