The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.
For the second year in a row, the County Board voted to adopt what looks like a pay raise for itself.
On page 28 of the Pay Plan, the salaries for the five member board all jumped by 4.5% compared to the amount described on the county website. Board Members are currently paid $55,147, and the Chairman at $60,662. The Pay Plan for fiscal year 2022 appears to set to raise that pay to $57,648 and $63,413 respectively.
Last year when a 3.5% pay raise appeared in the Pay Plan, we were told in no uncertain terms that there was not funding for the pay raise included in the appropriated budget. However, no public explanation was given or correction made to clear up whether the county website was correct or the pay table was correct. For all the public knows, the Board could have taken the raise last year and just given itself another 1% increase, which mirrors what the Board voted for all county employees.
So for the second year in a row, a Thumbs Down to the County Board for at best creating unnecessary confusion about their compensation or at worst voting itself a pay raise and trying to keep it quiet.
A second Thumbs Down goes to the County Board for the effective 6% property tax increase for homeowners that was included in the budget. The increase was driven by assessments and a stormwater tax rate increase. Not only is the tax increase retroactive to January 1st, it comes as the Board is sitting on a $17.5 million contingency fund provided by the federal government.
Thumbs Up to the candidates for office, both Republicans and Democrats, who are asking questions about the possibility that the Virginia Board of Education may pull back its math curriculum. Our plan should be to maximize the academic opportunities and outcomes for every student, not to lower expectations in the name of equity.
Speaking of candidates for office, this coming Saturday tens of thousands of Republicans will go to convention sites throughout Virginia to cast their ballots for their statewide candidates. After four years of running against a former resident of Washington, DC, the Democrats in Richmond will have to run on their record in 2021.
Thumbs Up to the Republican candidates for focusing on key issues on the minds of many Virginians including: the loss of an in-person school year in too many places, the impact of lockdown policies on our economy, particularly our small businesses, and support for law enforcement to keep us safe.
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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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village