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The Right Note: What is Your County Up To?

by Mark Kelly March 8, 2018 at 3:45 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.

The County this week announced the opening of its online portal for permit applications and payments. It is too early to know how the system will work or if it will make the permitting process any better for applicants, but the county should be applauded for moving past the paper only option.

Arlington Economic Development is holding an event next week to teach businesses how to do work for Arlington County.

More transparency is always good news. This type of event opens up the county procurement process to more businesses which should encourage competition and discourage cronyism. In theory, this is good news for the taxpayer. One has to ask though, is it really so hard to figure out how to work with the county that it necessitates a training session?

Arlington officials have been at odds with the county’s two country clubs over how to tax the properties. According to the Sun Gazette, the courses combined are taxed at a rate equal to the next 11 country clubs in Northern Virginia combined.

Unfortunately, the county was either unwilling or unable to find a way forward on how to lower the tax on the open space, so the General Assembly has entered the fray. A bill with overwhelming majorities in both chambers is on its way to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk to dramatically scale back the allowable tax rate. It remains to be seen whether an intense lobbying effort, similar to last year’s decision on the towing ordinance, will impact our new governor.

Also on taxes, the county manager’s proposed budget may not include a property tax rate increase, but it does include an increase in other taxes and fees. Going up are utility taxes, parking meter rates, parking tickets, certain building permit fees, among others.

If you read through the proposed cuts to the budget, many come from not filling currently vacant staff positions. However, one cut would be to end the printing of the Citizen Newsletter. At $82,088 per year, it won’t make or break the budget, but it probably was past time to stop sending that information through the mail.

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