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The Right Note: Eight Things To Ask a Board Member This Month

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.

It’s August, and in keeping with tradition, there is no County Board meeting for your elected representatives to prepare for this month. So here are eight things to ask your Board Member when you see them out and about:

1) Would you vote to turn yourself into a full-time lawmaking body, and if so, what will taxpayers see in return? In the past, Libby Garvey has proposed a massive raise for County Board Members to bring the salaries in line with median income in Arlington, but other Board Members have passed on the idea so far.

2) Why didn’t you have a firmer grasp on ongoing operating costs for the new aquatics center before breaking ground on the project? And the follow up question is, would you vote to increase the subsidy or increase fees to cover any shortfalls?

3) Would you support removing ongoing maintenance from future bond requests? With our annual debt service ratio dangerously close to the 10 percent cap bond rating agencies look at, shouldn’t we leave room for future needs without having to resort to a big tax increase and pay for maintenance as we go? And would you commit to supporting a separate up or down vote on borrowing for any project over $25 million? If not, what about $50 million?

4) Where do you draw the line on incentives for new businesses looking to locate in Arlington? Since Board Members say the incentives they offered Amazon for their new headquarters are confidential, it would be nice to know if they have a line they will not cross.

5) What changes can you support to ensure all existing businesses in Arlington have an incentive to stay? Zoning, permitting and the gross receipts tax known as BPOL are all open for reform.

6) Speaking of zoning, would you support steps to make the construction of new housing more affordable in Arlington? Affordable housing, as was noted by a recent Sun Gazette piece, has been an issue for half a century in our county. The permitting and zoning process would be a good place to start.

7) Would you vote to double the capacity of the County Auditor’s office in 2019? At the rate we are going, the auditor may only be able to evaluate the total budget about once every 25 years which is hardly an effective avenue for reform.

8) If you could snap your fingers tomorrow and make three specific changes to our laws or budget line items, what would they be and why would they make the most impact on the community? You might receive platitudes or nebulous initiatives if you ask this question, but hopefully they would be able to advocate for concrete changes.

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