ARLINGTON, VA – This year’s campaign season is heating up. So I think it’s important to let you know why I’m running against Libby Garvey for a seat on County Board.
The Citizen, Arlington County’s newsletter, recently announced the adoption of a $3.3 billion 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), highlighting several major projects to be funded over the next ten years, including:
There is much to like in the capital budget. For example, funding for the aquatics center is limited to the amount already approved by the voters in previous bond referendums. The transportation budget includes funding for expanded and consolidated ART bus service. ART incidentally is the only Northern Virginia transit service that realized a significant increase in ridership this year.
Nevertheless there are serious problems with the latest CIP. At over $500 million, Arlington Public Schools (APS) CIP grabs the lion’s share of the capital budget. Yet County Board evidently adopted the APS CIP without giving it serious scrutiny.
For example, the School Board presented a chart on page 19 of its briefing to the County showing that it would erase a projected 4,600 classroom seat deficit by providing 5,661 additional seats by 2025. Yet comparison of this chart with a similar one produced by the Superintendent on page 22 of his proposed CIP and other information in that document shows that no less than 2,216 of the “new” seats have already been accounted for in recently added classroom capacity. Subtracting this number from the projected 5,661 new seats results in a 1,145 seat deficit even after adding a 1,000 seat high school at a location as yet to be determined.
This budgetary sleight of hand should never have gone undetected by County Board members, particularly my opponent, who herself sat on the School
Board for almost fifteen years.
Another problem with the CIP is the allocation of $46 million for a new Lubber Run Community Center, a four story structure, one third of whose space will house the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). In approving this capital outlay, County Board ignored the objections of community leaders who argued that siting office space adjacent to a park is inappropriate and unnecessary, given the county’s current 20% office vacancy rate. Their argument that a community center that met the need could have been built for half the current budgeted amount fell on the deaf ears of County Board members who like to tax and spend.
If elected to County Board, you can be sure that I will scrutinize future CIPs with particular attention to the APS budget, to verify that its projections are accurate. I will also look for pork in the form of new construction projects that do not reflect actual need.
In addition, if elected I plan to:
As a 12-year Westover resident and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in political science and service as a Congressional Fellow–I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.
You can make a difference! Boost my campaign for Arlington County Board by:
Together we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.
Audrey Clement, Ph.D.
Independent Candidate, Arlington County Board