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The Right Note: What’s Happening in Arlington?

by Mark Kelly July 14, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

The 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 ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyNext Tuesday, the County Board will consider the 2016 Bond Referenda to be placed in front of the voters in November. It is reported that this year will include $320 million in new debt for the county. Nearly $140 million on school projects alone.

As of the writing of this column, the County Manager’s report was unavailable online. In the past, the language of the ballot questions has been vague. And voters often rubber stamp them as necessary spending for “parks,” “schools,” “roads,” and “public safety.”

Once again it seems that the County Manager is rejecting a call by Arlington Republicans that every project with a price tag of $25 million or more to be taken up in a separate bond referenda.

Taking on debt for big ticket items should rise or fall on its own merits. On the flip side of that argument, many of the smaller ticket items pushed into these larger packages should be paid for out of the annual budget process.

Along with the slush fund spending in the annual close out process, the bond process should be subject to closer scrutiny and better accountability. Hopefully we’ll hear comments to that effect from more than one County Board member next week.

In September, the County Board will be asked to approve two new polling locations for Arlington.

For a few of the 13 hours polls are open every four years on the first Tuesday in November when voters choose a president, there are moderate length lines to vote on Election Day. Every other election it seems has virtually no line to speak of at any polling location throughout the county.

With all due respect to the good people of the Electoral Board, the reason for the additional polling locations is not readily apparent.

And in a story that surprises no one, taxi trips are down in Arlington as a result of Uber and Lyft.

I have little need for on-call transportation and was not one of the first to join one of these two services. Calling a taxi was going to be just fine for me and my occasional trip to the airport.

Then came the time a cab was 30 minutes late to pick me up to get to my flight. The next time, I tried to order a cab the night before for an early morning flight and could not due to some glitch in the company’s system.

When I went to pick up the phone for my next trip to the airport, I decided to download the ride sharing software instead. For me, it is infinitely more convenient, particularly when it comes to never having to exchange money at my destination.

If taxi companies want to regain market share, then they need to offer a competitive product people want to use.

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