Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

UPS trucks overloaded with packages, at the Pentagon Row shopping center

More Metro Delays — A disabled train outside of the Farragut West Metro station produced big delays for those heading into Virginia via the Orange, Silver and Blue lines this morning. [Twitter]

Local Credit Card Holiday Spending — Arlington residents are charging an average of $718.43 on credit cards for holiday gifts this year, estimates the website Nerd Wallet. While that seems like a high number, collectively those in Arlington buying holiday gifts without using a credit card are missing out on $138,846.46 in rewards points, the website says. [Nerd Wallet]

Arlington Still Tops for Va. Tourism — Arlington remains the top tourism destination in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The county attracts more than 6 million people who spend nearly $3 billion here and generate some $81 million in local taxes annually. The tourism industry accounts for about 25,000 jobs in Arlington. [Arlington County]

County Unveils New Online Calendar — Arlington County has rolled out Arlington Today, a new and improved calendar of local events. First up this morning on the calendar: a performance by The Rocking Chairs, the “in-house band” of the Lee Community and Senior Center. [Twitter]

Local Startup Raises $16 Million — Want to start a company in Arlington that can raise big bucks? Do so in the cybersecurity field. Data security software maker ThreatConnect, which recently moved from Shirlington to the Ballston area, has raised $16 million in a new round of funding. [DC Inno]

Arlington Recognized as Bike Friendly Community — Arlington has been named a Silver-level “Bicycle Friendly Community” for the third time since 2007. We’re one of 75 communities in the U.S. to achieve that rating. [Arlington County]

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Morning Notes

Backyard BBQ cookout in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by thekidfromcrumlin)

Kudla Out After Four-Set Loss — Arlington resident Denis Kudla, 22, capped his impressive performance at Wimbledon with a four-set loss to reigning U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic in the Round of 16 yesterday afternoon. Kudla, who turned tennis pro at the age of 16, was the last remaining American man in the tournament. [Fox Sports, Twitter]

Wellington Sells for $167 Million — The Wellington apartment complex on Columbia Pike has sold for $167 million. The 711 unit complex is 97 percent occupied. It was purchased by Washington REIT. [MultifamilyBiz]

Arlington Park Spending Near Top — Arlington County spends $249 per resident on parks, the third highest per capita park spending figure in the country, among the nation’s 100 most populous areas. Washington, D.C. ranked first, spending $346 per resident. Some of Arlington’s park spending is now going toward >$1 million playgrounds. [Washington Post, Trust for Public Land]

Flickr pool photo by thekidfromcrumlin

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The six candidates for County Board each struck a note of fiscal conservatism at local civic association debates this week.

Even as Arlington has avoided the worst of the stagnant economy, fears about the impact of federal spending cuts on Arlington’s tax base, combined with the reality of a burgeoning school population, has ushered in a slate of candidates largely devoid of ideas for sweeping new county initiatives. Instead, candidates are talking about prioritizing spending and, perhaps, pulling back on big ticket items like the struggling Artisphere cultural center and the planned Columbia Pike streetcar and Long Bridge Park aquatics center.

Iraq veteran and West Point graduate Terron Sims was perhaps the most blunt of the five Democrats in race when it came to spending.

“We do need to prioritize,” Sims said. “We spend money as though it’s coming out of trees… Though we have the money, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to spend the money.”

“I’m disturbed at the trolley’s cost,” Sims said of the Pike streetcar’s $250 million price tag. “As for the Artisphere, it’s a failed investment, or at least it appears to be at this time.”

Peter Fallon, an Arlington County Planning Commission, was also candid about his views on spending — particularly when it comes to the streetcar.

“Let’s face it, we need to do a much better job of deciding what we need versus what we want and what we can have,” Fallon said. “I am certainly very pro-transit… however, I am not convinced that $250 million for a five mile rail in the ground is necessarily the way to go.

“If I’m on the County Board, I’m not going to sign off on it until I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do for all of Arlington, and I have not seen that analysis yet,” Fallon added. “There are cheaper ways to enhance traffic and transit throughout Arlington County.”

School Board member Libby Garvey said that some big ticket items sound good in theory, but must be put in perspective when it comes to other needs.

“I think the streetcar sounds like a great project, I think the [proposed Long Bridge Park] aquatics center sounds like a great project, the Artisphere had really good possibilities — they all sound great,” she said. “Meanwhile, our schools are busting at the seams, our police force has not had an increase in 10 years. There are a lot of issues we are facing, and the news is we cannot do it all — or we cannot do it all right now.”

“We need a strategic plan to pick out what our priorities are and decide what we’re going to do first,” Garvey continued. “So if we put money into an aquatics center but we don’t build a school, we’re saying that the aquatics center is more important than a school. Our budget statements are value statements.”

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The Washington Area Boards of Education recently published the results of its annual survey of local schools. The survey revealed that Arlington is still spending the most money per pupil of any D.C. area school system.

Arlington spent $18,047 per pupil in Financial Year 2012, a 4.2 percent increase over the $17,322 per pupil spent in FY 2011. The latest spending figure is still 2.8 percent lower than the $18,569 per pupil spent in FY 2010, however.

Aside from Arlington, Alexandria was the next-highest spender in the region, with $17,618 per pupil spent in FY 2012. That compares to $16,309 per pupil in Falls Church, $14,776 in Montgomery County, $12,820 in Fairfax County, $11,014 in Loudoun County, $9,852 in Prince William County and $9,176 in Prince George’s County.

The most recent news article on D.C. Public Schools spending suggests a cost of $16,408 per pupil.

The Arlington County Taxpayers Association, a persistent critic of local elected officials, had this to say about the spending increase in Arlington:

So, the Arlington School Board hit Arlington taxpayers with a “twofer” — highest cost per pupil and the largest increase from FY 2011 to FY 2012. And imagine, the School Board candidate had no opposition in yesterday’s elections. Can things get any better for Arlington County’s elected worthies?

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Morning Notes

Arlington Spends Big on Travel — Arlington spends more on travel per household than any other large American city, according to a report on Bundle.com. The average Arlington household spent $3,534 on travel last year, according to the report. That’s more than twice the national average. Arlington is also tops for combined travel and leisure spending, which includes entertainment, cable and satellite expenses, spending an average of $5,615 per household per year.

Feds Search Home of Alleged Arlington Office Thief — Authorities may be close to bringing charges against a woman thought to be responsible for thefts of purses and wallets from secured government offices. The Washington Examiner reports that investigators believe the woman stole items from a senior official at the U.S. Marshals Service headquarters in Arlington, an employee at the U.S. State Department in Arlington, and a Pentagon employee in Arlington.

School Board Race Isn’t Much of One So Far — School board member Sally Baird is facing two challengers in her bid for reelection this year. But so far the race isn’t exactly the barnburner of campaigns past. Baird has raised a paltry $3,653 so far, and one of her opponents, Miriam Gennari, has filed papers indicating that she doesn’t plan on raising significant cash, according to the Sun Gazette.

Flickr pool photo by Amberture.

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Morning Notes

Metro Fares Going Up This Morning — Metrorail riders will start paying an extra 20 cents during this morning’s rush hour. Starting today, the peak base fare is increasing from $1.75 to $1.95. On Sunday, riders started paying $1.60 for the off-peak base fare, up from $1.45. Metrobus fares have also increased. More from Fox 5.

Pentagon Shooting Heroes Honored — The Pentagon police officers who stopped the Pentagon Metro Station shooter received the Medal of Valor from the Department of Defense on Friday. Officers Marvin Carraway, Jr. and Jeffery Amos, who were shot by 36-year-old John Patrick Bedell in the attack, were honored alongside officers Dexter Jones and Colin Richards, who also who helped to stop Bedell from entering the Pentagon on the night of March 4. More from WUSA 9.

Big Spenders, Big Collectors — Arlington County collects more per resident and spends more per resident than any other locality in Virginia, the Washington Examiner reports. On average, Arlington collects $4,240 per person and spends $4,209 per person. On a per capita basis, Arlington outspends every other Virginia locality on fire and rescue services, parks and recreation, and social services.

Marine Charged With Rape — A Marine charged in the abduction of an Arlington woman has been formally charged in the abduction and rape of another. Jorge “George” Torrez, 21, has been the prime suspect in the February 27 crime, but is only now being charged after detectives were able to link him to the case. Torrez, who was based at Fort Myer-Henderson Hall, now faces 14 charges including abduction with intent to defile, forcible sodomy, and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief.

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Arlington spends more per capita on welfare and social services than neighbors Alexandria and Fairfax County. In fact, Arlington spends $455 for every resident in the county, nearly twice the spending of Fairfax.

“Considering the emphasis that the County Board has placed on social services, it’s not all that surprising that this category would be one of the highest per-capita spending items in Arlington,” Budget Director Richard Stevenson told the Arlington Connection’s Michael Lee Pope.

The county spends more on welfare and social services than on law enforcement. The welfare expenditures are greater than Arlington’s spending on parks, libraries, courts, sanitation and building maintenance combined. The only individual category that tops welfare is education, at $1,814 per capita. Taken as a whole, law enforcement and fire and rescue account for $588 spending per capita.

“I think we’re right where we need to be” in terms of budget priorities, County Board chairman Jay Fisette told the Connection.

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