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.