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.
Last Thursday as I tuned into the County Board’s special meeting to pass the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, I began clicking on the links to the Board reports accompanying the agenda. One of the measures to be voted on was the Pay Plan to take effect July 1. Knowing the Board had originally planned a $10,000 pay raise for themselves, I searched the document to ensure the raise had been scrapped.
In less than 60 seconds, I located County Board pay on page 28. It called for a 3.5% pay raise. I double checked my figures with several Board watchers and online sources to make sure I had it right. Board Members are currently paid $55,147, and the Chair $60,662, and the Pay Plan was set to raise that pay to $57,077 and $62,785.
After no County Board member mentioned the pay raise during the debate on the Pay Plan, I began writing a column giving the County Board a big Thumbs Down on the raise and opining as to why the Board may have been trying to sweep it under the rug. Following submission of my column, ARLnow’s editor informed me that, during a fact check, county officials disputed whether a raise had been approved.
After some back and forth, including a call between me and county staff, I have to take the County Board at their word that they did not authorize any pay raise to be included in the Pay Plan. If it was in the plan, I was informed that there was no money in the budget for it, and it would be fixed.
I was left to wonder though, out of four County Board members it seems like not a single one read the Pay Plan closely enough to notice the pay raise was there. Do we think John Vihstadt would have missed this if he were still on the Board?
You might also wonder, if no one read the Pay Plan closely enough to notice the increase, are there mistakes in the items that were approved on last week’s agenda that will also have to be fixed?
Thumbs Down to all four County Board Members who did not notice the pay raise in the Pay Plan before they voted to approve it last Thursday.
Thumbs Down to County Manager Mark Schwartz for not ensuring the County Board instructions were reflected in the Pay Plan that was approved.a
Thumbs Up to ARLnow for starting the dialogue with county officials, and for what I’m sure will be a follow up to make sure the Board works to undo the raise.
Switching gears, I did want to offer a Thumbs Up to Governor Northam for allowing non-essential medical care to move forward again. With the COVID-19 curve long flattened and no longer threatening to overwhelm our health care system, it was past time to ensure people are receiving the deferred health care they need. It also ensures health care providers, particularly in more remote parts of Virginia, are able to receive the income they need to stay open and keep providing these essential services into the future.
While Governor Northam is moving slowly to reopen Virginia and still has not released the details of his larger plan for our overall economic health and well being, at least his administration retreated from the notion that a first phase could last two years. So a final thumbs up for hope that we can recover, and soon.
Mark Kelly is a long-time Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
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Arlington and its neighbors have become more segregated in the last 10 years while fair housing legislation at the state level faces significant roadblocks. Arlington’s fair housing enforcement, education, and commitment to equity practices in housing policy and programs are beginning to show signs of improvement but much more needs to be done.
Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.
The half-day, in-person event will feature speakers from fair housing advocacy organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and focus on fair housing policy trends in Virginia and Arlington County. The conference aims to advance the understanding of issues and policies related to equity and affirmatively further fair housing among local officials, advocates, and members of the public.
2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference
Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!
Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 5th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!
A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.
Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!
Private School Fair
Congressional School to Host MONA Private School Fair Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
Congressional School in Falls Church, VA is delighted to host the MONA (Mothers of North Arlington) at an upcoming Private School Fair. Private schools from around
WHS Spring Festival
Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!
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