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The Right Note: What Will 2021 Hold?

The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

The County Board has issued guidance for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and left all options on the table.

In other words, property owners should prepare for their real estate taxes to go up. The Board also began to lay the groundwork for a tax on plastic bags and cigarettes. This will all be done in the name of COVID-19.

However, the Board is prioritizing funding to do two things that are completely unrelated to fighting the impacts of the virus.

First, Board Members signaled they going to fund Rank Choice Voting in local elections. The question is of course, why? Outside of John Vihstadt’s wins in 2014, Democrats have not seen a race where their candidate fell below 60% let alone 50% in recent memory. This is something that is not only unnecessary, but at the very least could be shelved until a better budget year.

Second, the Board intends to take advantage of a new state law that allows them to prepare to enter into collective bargaining with public employees. While the Board did not put a price tag on this optional item, it is just the tip of the iceberg on additional costs to the county budget moving forward. It will also give future Arlington elected officials less flexibility in the face of a budget crunch like the one we are facing now.

Arlingtonians will have their chance to listen to a presentation by County Manager Mark Schwartz on December 9th. It is the next step in the process wherein the County Board will convince us we have to raise taxes to pay for a “scaled back” budget. But it is clear that not all budget priorities for next year are urgent.

Tax increases and interesting spending priorities are not the only controversial issues to look forward to in 2021. The County Board intends to vote to restrict the ability of homeowners to obtain parking permits. The Planning Commission will receive a presentation at its meeting tonight.

And, the School Board will vote this week on the first changes to elementary school boundaries. The School Board will hold a public hearing tonight which you can watch online.

The public is obviously focused on how COVID-19 is impacting them. These times demand restraint and caution from our elected officials, so we should watch what they are doing closely.

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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It is the decision of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to implement the Proposed Action: the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update (Pentagon Master Plan) as the framework to guide future decisions regarding land use and infrastructure at the Pentagon site and Mark Center. The Pentagon Master Plan aims to provide an update to the existing conditions at the Pentagon and Mark Center and presents projects and revisions to land use categorizations that will address the specific needs to reduce the Pentagon’s environmental impacts and advance sustainability, security, and resilience. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review has been completed through preparation of a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate environmental impacts arising from implementation of the projects. WHS has concluded that no significant impacts to the human or natural environment will result from implementation of any projects, and recognized negative effects will be reduced by adherence to standard best management practices, applicable permit and consultation conditions, and standard operating procedures. This decision is further documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed on March 20, 2024.

This notice announces the availability of the FONSI to implement the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update.

For further information and to request a copy of the Final EA or FONSI, please contact Brian King, Environmental and Sustainability Program Manager, WHS/Facilities Services Directorate/Standards and Compliance Division/Environmental and Sustainability Branch; (703-614-3658 or [email protected]). Please include “Pentagon Master Plan Final EA and FONSI” in the subject line.

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The 3rd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference will feature Thomas Silverstein, renowned Fair Housing expert and Associate Director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Come hear the latest news about fair housing enforcement, policy, and programs within Arlington County, Virginia, and across the country! Our expert panelists and guest speakers include fair housing advocates, elected officials, and government officials tasked with advancing housing equity at the local, state, and federal level.

Arlington has made substantial strides in advancing housing equity and improving fair housing policy with the adoption of the Regional Fair Housing Plan in 2023. Come learn what’s next to fight housing discrimination, incorporate equity for marginalized populations in our housing policies and programs, and increase awareness of fair housing rights under state and federal law.

We’ll have updates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing federal rule, a panel discussion of fair housing progress at the General Assembly and across Virginia, and a panel of local experts discussing the progress Arlington has made and what remains to be done.
Please RSVP in advance to ensure you receive your free lunch at the conference. Free and open to the public.

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We invite you to join us for an extraordinary evening of music at our Season Finale, “Concerto Celebration”! Enjoy several masterworks as NCE performs two famous concertos in an intimate chamber music setting, opening with a delightful work by Chevalier

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