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Arlington Residents to Vote on Four Bond Issues, Two Constitutional Amendments

by Tim Regan November 2, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

When Arlington residents head to the ballot box on Nov. 8, they won’t just choose candidates for office. They’ll also be able to vote on four local bond issues and two state constitutional amendments.

Taxpayers will be asked to approve nearly $315.8 million in general bond obligations. Additionally, they’ll be able to vote for or against adding “right-to-work” and property tax exemption amendments to the Virginia constitution.

Members of the voting public can only vote “yes” or “no” to each of the four bond questions on the ballot. Each question rolls multiple projects into larger categories.

In the $138,830,000 Arlington Public Schools bond:

  • $26.03 million to build an addition at the Stratford building to add 339 middle school seats;
  • $78.4 million for construction of the new facility for H-B Woodlawn at the Wilson site, adding an estimated 775 seats;
  • $12 million to renovate the Career Center/Arlington Tech to add 300 seats;
  • $10 million for planning and design to build an additional 1,300 secondary seats at to-be-determined locations;
  • $12.4 million for HVAC, roofing, and other infrastructure improvement projects at existing APS buildings.

In the $98,850,000 Community Infrastructure bond:

  • $46.46 million to replace the Lubber Run Community Center with a new building that would have underground parking, a new gym and ADA-compliant courts and playground areas;
  • $12 million for a new parking deck at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School;
  • $12 million for neighborhood conservation and street improvements, residential traffic management, park enhancement, street lighting, beautification and landscaping projects;
  • $9.6 million for facilities maintenance on items like roofs, mechanical and electrical systems, and replacement and renewal of interior and exterior finishes. The money would also be used to keep those facilities up to code and within good working order;
  • $6.25 million to invest in county-owned buildings at Courthouse Plaza and fund new security and accessibility standards in those buildings;
  • $5.35 million for a new 31,000 square foot urban plaza in Nauck that would feature public art, the history of the neighborhood and other ornamental elements;
  • $3.24 million to convert and expand the existing Barcroft gym into a gymnastics program to meet increased demand;
  • $1.5 million for a new county childcare facility;
  • $1.33 million to centralize monitoring and maintenance of building systems;
  • $1.12 million for the design of the forthcoming Fire Station 8.

In the $58,785,000 Metro and Transportation bond:

  • $30 million would be set aside to fund Arlington’s share of WMATA’s capital program in the 2017 and 2018 financial years;
  • Roughly $23.89 million would be used to pave more than 974 county-managed miles of roads;
  • $4.9 million would be divvied up among a variety of projects including bridge renovations, BikeArlington, WalkArlington, traffic signals, new curbs and gutters, streetlights, safety improvements and other street upgrades.

In the $19,310,000 Local Parks and Recreation bond:

  • $11.89 million for park maintenance and renovations;
  • $3 million to fund land acquisitions for parks and open spaces;
  • $1.8 million to create a park master plan for Jennie Dean Park in Shirlington, which would include a redevelopment of the park “as a key recreational, cultural and environmental resource.”
  • $1.37 million to fund the final phase of the Tyrol Hills Park master plan, including the construction of a comfort station, picnic shelter, paved plaza, site furnishings and landscaping;
  • $1.25 million to replace and renovate 31.5 miles of county-owned trails over ten years.

Voters will also be able to choose whether to add two amendments to the Virginia constitution:

  • An amendment to add Virginia’s “right to work” statute to the state constitution;
  • An amendment adding a local option for property tax exemptions for surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty.

Under the “right to work” amendment, employers would be banned from requiring union membership. Though Virginia already has a “right to work” statute, ratifying it as a constitutional amendment would make it harder for future lawmakers to repeal the rule.

The issue has sparked a debate between unions and legislators, according to The Washington Post. Supporters, like Rep. Richard P. Bell (R-Staunton) say an amendment is necessary to protect and preserve the state’s longstanding statute. Unions, however, say the amendment would be yet another blow to organized labor in the state.

Other critics of the amendment say it’s just not necessary, as Virginia has been a “right to work” state for more than 70 years without a constitutional amendment. One Democratic state senator even called the ballot question a “political stunt,” according to WAMU.

The other proposed amendment would, if passed and then acted upon by the Virginia General Assembly, allow localities to exempt from property taxes the spouses of first responders — law enforcement officers, firefighters, rescuers and medics — killed in the line of duty, provided they haven’t remarried.

Spouses of military veterans killed in the line of duty already can be exempted from local property taxes under a previous constitutional amendment.

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