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.
County Board Members Garvey, Gutshall and de Ferranti also chimed in with their current priorities at the annual organizational meeting. Each gave a nod to the budget process which will undoubtedly result in a hefty tax rate increase. The ongoing questions with Amazon’s arrival, soaring housing costs, transportation and schools were on also their lists in one way or another.
Newcomer Matthew de Ferranti recapped his campaign promises in his speech. Oddly, he put building a new high school at the top of his list for the 2020 budget process. Since he is not on the School Board, one can only assume that item is what he will hang his hat on in order to vote for a tax rate increase.
Libby Garvey took time to offer a look back at Arlington’s history over the past four decades in order to set the stage for the question of where we want Arlington to be over the next four decades? And she issued a challenge to have that debate in a civil manner.
Fresh off his first year of service, Erik Gutshall went through a traditional speech that included political platitudes and priority items. Gutshall rightly called for modernizing the zoning code. Though we should all hope that the Board members calling for this think “modernize” means make it easier and less expensive to build not more expensive and more complicated.
Gutshall’s final priority was unique to his colleagues, and a bit concerning. Without discussing the specifics of what it would mean to us, Gutshall suggested Arlington join the “Green New Deal.” At least one preliminary study estimates the plan would cost an amount which is twice the current federal budget over the next 10 years. While not all of those cost would be passed on to taxpayers directly, the costs to transition to 100 percent renewable energy in manufacturing would certainly be passed on to us in terms of increased prices.
Members of the all-Democrat General Assembly delegation also discussed their priorities for the year as they head back into session. They suggested Republicans’ electoral prospects would be enhanced by adopting Democrats’ priorities. I am sure Republicans in Richmond will be just as receptive to the advice as the County Board will be to my advice not to raise the tax rate this year.
At or near the top of their list is one of the issues that historically does not motivate voters to go to the polls — redistricting reform. While most voters favor “doing something” on the issue, the push by Democrats to move the process even further away from any accountability to the voters remains a bad idea.
The real fight as recognized by our delegation will be over the tax revenue windfall caused by changes in the federal tax reform law. In posturing that will surprise no one: Republicans will push to return most of it to taxpayers. Democrats will push to spend most of it.