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Posted at 6:56 PM ET, 03/12/2010

Arlington’s budget binge

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Andrew Bradley
Arlington

Since 2001, Arlington County’s spending has risen a staggering 75 percent, from $537.8 million to the proposed fiscal 2011 budget of $942 million. This drunken spending spree came on the backs of Arlington homeowners, whose property taxes soared through assessments that often increased by more than $100,000 a year. Instead of substantially cutting the property tax rate, the county swallowed the money.

Now the cash river is slowing and — unbelievably — county managers claim they just can’t live without the extra $400 million per year that they didn’t have just a few years ago. (Who would run a household so irresponsibly that, as your income almost doubles in a few years, you somehow find ways to spend all that extra money and more, year after year?) Instead of sobering up and heading for budget rehab, the county’s solution is to raise the property tax rate by more than 10 percent, 7 percent, sticking it to Arlington homeowners once again.

The Arlington County Board: not an adult in the room.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | March 12, 2010; 6:56 PM ET
Categories:  Arlington, Virginia, taxes  
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Comments

Dude, you left out a few factual considerations, like, actual growth in population and school children, commercial development and commensurate increase in economic activity, and declining monies from federal and state sources. Plus increasing mandates from federal agencies requiring capital investments in infrastructure. Arlington is prosperous, and handling a difficult situation rather well.

Posted by: greenfuture | March 13, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Greenfuture,

Thanks for commenting on the letter. It seems obvious that all off the things that you mentioned could easily be accommodated by spending growth enormously beneath 75%. Handling a difficult situation rather well? Any difficulties along these lines are entirely the fault of the county planners who have squandered literally billions over the last ten years and are now cutting raising taxes and cutting library hours. A budget "crisis" stemming from years of gluttonous spending.

Posted by: aconnbrad1 | March 13, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

This growth in the budget has also brought us many new facilities - arts centers, better parks, increased number of dog parks, rebuilt schools, etc and better services for those in need. Given that the board members are reelected by large margins every year, it would seem that the Arlington residents, this one among them, are comfortable with this growth in the budget. Do I enjoy paying more in taxes? No. But am I happy with where those dollars are going? Yes.

Posted by: CourthouseGuy | March 14, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

aconnbrad1, "it seems obvious" that you know little about what you are writing. You speak in broad generalizations without a bit of factual content, especially when you say "squandered literally billions..." How would you get to billions? By cutting the school budget by hundreds of millions each year? Or perhaps eliminating the social services safety net (entirely)? Here's a tip: don't buy a latte tomorrow and buy a clue instead.

Posted by: greenfuture | March 14, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

greenfuture:

Me thinks you are a county employee?? Yeah... (Certainly nothing wrong with that, although I'm certain that you'll deny it). Anyway, your comments are increasingly belligerent and of the "personnel attacks" nature that this forum is against. So... I won't respond to your further comments. Take care.

Andrew Bradley

Posted by: aconnbrad1 | March 14, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I always laugh at conservatives who live in Arlington and complain about how it's run, yet benefit from the high quality of life here, always consistently at the top of polls for best places to live. Arlington has elected a solidly Democrat board for decades and is run very well, if you don't like it, move to Loudoun or Prince William Counties.

Posted by: Arlme | March 14, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Donnellan,

Arlington County has an excellent credit rating to support its borrowing requests which finance the County's budget. Nonetheless, the debt service and fees can siphon large amounts of tax dollars from County coffers. Moreover, the annual increases in property tax rates can be eliminated with a simple solution used by commercial banks and do so without impacting the county's credit rating.

I encourage you to examine the funding mechanisms used by the Bank of N. Dakota. They are basically the same as a commercial bank, however, the bank is OWNED by the state of N.Dakota and has no stake or bondholders so that all earnings are returned the state. There are no legal or Constitutional constraints on Arlington County's doing the same thing.

As you know HR62 to study the options concerning a state bank for the Commonwealth was tabled in Dec. Pressures from commercial bankers fearing competition forced that action. These banking industry supporters would rather conserve sources of relection funding than move to relieve economic burdens from millions of Virginians.

The publicly owned bank alternative has significant benefits. The BND generated a surplus of $1.3 billion. North Dakota has also managed to avoid the credit freeze, through the simple expedient of creating its own credit. It has led the nation in establishing state economic sovereignty.

In Virginia and other states, workers and factories are sitting idle because the private credit system has failed. An injection of new money from a system of publicly-owned banks on the model of the Bank of North Dakota could thaw the credit freeze and bring spring to the markets once again.

BND has operated since 1918. Below is a link to an excellent article by Ellen H. Brown, briefly describing the benefits of a state owned
bank.http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/publicly-owned.php

Posted by: robbrian_06 | March 16, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

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