The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.
The annual closeout process, or second round of spending, is upon us again. Tonight, the County Board will formally receive the excess funds available report and recommendations on how to spend all $284.9 million from the County Manager.
While real estate revenues once again soared past estimates by $16 million and taxes collected from businesses were up by $12.5 million, overall revenue inched up by just $3.7 million in the past fiscal year. As you might imagine, sales taxes, hotel taxes and meals taxes were off by about $27.7 million.
The recommendation from the County Manager is to spend $1.8 million on a one time pay adjustment for county employees. The remainder would be set aside to supplement the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. While taxpayers would be better served with real estate tax relief than increased spending next year, the funding would in theory keep pressure off the so-called – though never materializing – budget gap.
After already allocated projects are accounted for and we send our reserves to $95.5 million, the County has just over $20.5 million in excess funds available to spend for the non-schools portion of the budget. This comes from the $3.7 million in excess revenue plus $16.8 million in unspent budget items. And, it is roughly equivalent to last year’s figure.
The more eye-popping numbers are on the school side of the ledger. Despite a public posture that the schools were approaching bad financial footing, Arlington Public Schools had $58.7 million in unspent funds last year. If the County Manager’s recommendations are adopted, the schools will have $62 million available to spend as they see fit as part of the closeout process.
What is the bottom line?
First, even in the face of an unprecedented pandemic and the government’s economy-crippling response to it, Arlington taxpayers still provided record levels of revenue to fund our local government. Also, it proves once again that county staff habitually underestimates property tax revenue in order to help create the annual “budget shortfall” narrative.
Second, Our schools’ budget was off by roughly 10% last year, even further off than their current enrollment estimates were.
How can voters send a message in the November 2nd elections?
To the School Board: Vote NO on the $23 million school bond. The schools have the cash available to pay for it now and still have $39 million left over. Why go further into debt when there is no longer the estimated upward pressure on enrollment?
To the County Board: Vote for anyone but the incumbent. Takis Karantonis is about as virtual a lock as you can get in politics, so sending a message that we want a better process for spending taxpayer funds, or better yet returning excess funds to the taxpayers, is all we can do.
Mark Kelly is a 19-year Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
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“Probing the highly imaginative, inspired mind of Teresa Oaxaca is not altogether unlike having a present-day conversation with an Old Master,” says Nashville Arts Magazine.
Here is an unusual opportunity to learn from this incredibly talented and accessible artist, at Art House 7’s two-day oil painting workshop in October. Teresa will give 2 portrait painting demonstrations for 3 hours each morning. Students will then be painting from a clothed live model. Teresa will offer individual critiques that focus on materials, techniques, process and artistic vision. You’ll get jazzed up about painting and become more confident about your abilities.
Art House 7, Two-Day Oil Painting Workshop with Teresa Oaxaca. Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT $250.
See more about Teresa Oaxaca here. Art House 7 5537 Langston Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22207
Validating one’s emotions has the power to heal, transform, and empower. What Is Validation? Every human being has feelings. We all have emotions that change over time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. The question isn’t whether we feel; it’s how we handle feelings once they arise.
Building strategies to understand emotions is essential to positive mental health, and validation is one effective skill to practice.
Emotional validation is the process of understanding, embracing, and actively listening to another person’s feelings (or your own).
Understanding someone’s emotions doesn’t necessarily mean you approve of how they are feeling or reacting to something. You can be supportive in acknowledging and validating an emotional experience without agreeing or diminishing it. Validation is a skill to learn and improve over time. It may take practice, but the effort is most certainly worth it. Emotional validation has the power to enhance interpersonal communication and foster strong relationships.
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