The Right Note: Getting Ready for the Speeches

by Mark Kelly December 27, 2018 at 3:15 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.

Next week, the County Board will meet for its annual organizational meeting, and it will do so with a new member for the first time since 2016. While the annual tradition of meeting on New Year’s Day seems to be relegated to the past, the tradition of speeches filled with a laundry list of “priorities” is here to stay.

Here are 10 questions the Board should try to answer as they craft their messages to Arlingtonians:

What will the first year of Amazon’s arrival look like? Now that the decision has been made and the incentive package has been promised, there are still a lot of practical questions to be answered. Housing, transportation and other infrastructure issues are on a lot of our minds.

How do you intend to improve the zoning and permitting process to help keep housing construction costs in check?

What is the future of Metro? While this is certainly not a question left up to us, Christian Dorsey could be a leader in calling for reforms.

How much do you plan to raise the tax rate? There is little question the Board plans to raise rates for 2019 on top of rising assessments, in order to ramp up spending significantly. It is unlikely anyone will come right out and say just how much, but they will instead spend most of their time apologizing for why they “have” to do it.

Will you give the county auditor more resources to do his job? Assuming the Board really does seek the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

How many more things will Arlington try to rename? And, has anyone determined the amount of staff time spent on such efforts?

Would you vote to institute “Instant Runoff Voting” in County Board elections if the General Assembly said you could?

Does Arlington have a long-term plan if our share of Medicaid expansion costs continue to rise? No one knows yet the full impact of this decision on our local budget, but the County Board is already asking for relief in the package it sent to the General Assembly.

Will the Board revisit its stance against funding the Potomac River gondola? A simple one-word answer will suffice if you do not want to clutter up your speech, preferably starting with the letter ‘n.’

Finally, with the return of one-party control of the County Board, what assurances can you give Arlingtonians that you will not slip into the patterns of the past?

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