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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Arlington county manager's fiscal 2012 budget proposes no cuts in services

By Christy Goodman

An earlier version of this story included incorrect information about the school budget proposal.

Arlington County's proposed fiscal 2012 budget doesn't restore any previously cut services, but it avoids further cuts, officials said Tuesday.

County Manager Barbara Donnellen presented board members with a $985.2 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That figure includes $378.2 million the county's public schools.

"I wish I could have done something," Donnellen said about restoring services, such as hours for libraries and recreation centers. "The truth is it is hard to make a restoration when we made so many across-the-board cuts" in previous years.

Under the proposed budget, the real estate tax rate would remain at 95.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, said Mark Schwartz, deputy county manager. The average tax bill would be $6,487 -- up about 1.4 percent over the current fiscal year.

Budget analysts had projected in October that the county faced a $25-million to $35-million budget gap, but higher-than-projected assessments made up the shortfall, Schwartz said. Assessments increased more than 6 percent, he said. The county faced an estimated $80 million to $100 million gap at the same time last year.

Additional revenue would be raised by increasing parking-meter fees by 25 cents an hour.

The budget includes funding for a 3-percent merit-pay raise for employees; operating costs for the new Cherrydale firestation, and the first phase of Long Bridge Park; eight new employees for the county's Emergency Call Center; and $11.3 million for 'safety net' services for low-income and people in need, Schwartz said.

The county's transfer to the school system represents 46 percent of the total local tax revenue.

Schools Superintendent Pat Murphy's proposed budget includes only a $5.5 million increase in funding because it was based on earlier projections, Schwartz said.

County Budget Director Richard Stephenson said October revenue projections included a $5.5 million increase from last year's budget for the school system. Thanks to the county's higher property assessments, the proposed budget includes nearly $18 million more.

The budget presentation can be viewed here.

By Christy Goodman  | February 8, 2011; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Arlington County  
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