October 14, 2017.
A few weeks ago Arlington County initiated the FY 2019 budget process in a press release announcing a series of budget roundtables open to those who register online.
You can be sure that one item not up for discussion at the roundtables are “close-out” funds–unspent money from the current fiscal year that the County routinely spends at the end of the calendar year, instead of allocating it in the next fiscal year’s budget.
Earmarking surplus funds this way bypasses the regular budget process, enabling the County to fund pet projects without the usual level of public scrutiny.
On November 9, 2016 Independent County Board member John Vihstadt offered several amendments to the close-out resolution to defer reallocation of most discretionary close-out funds until 2017. Vihstadt’s rationale was that except for clearly identified emergency needs, the current year’s budget surplus should be allocated in next year’s budget.
Unfortunately for the taxpayers, Vihstadt’s prudent advice was summarily rejected by the Board. The result was a 1.5 cent tax rate increase in April, 2017, when with no more surplus to spend, the County decided it had to increase taxes to cover a budgetary shortfall.
If you plan to attend one of the remaining budget roundtables, please come prepared to ask County staff how it plans to reallocate FY 2018 close-out funds, and tell them that the Independent candidate for County Board sent you.
Also, if you’re sick and tired of the County’s spend now, pay later approach to the budget, then elect another Independent to the Board. As a fiscal hawk, you can be sure that I will join John Vihstadt in urging the County to revamp the way it allocates surplus funds. I will also lobby for no more tax rate increases.
As an Independent candidate and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow, I am qualified to fill that role.
Arlington currently has one Independent on County Board, who is well respected among County residents. Let’s make it two!!!
To find out more about my campaign, visit my website. Better still you can make a difference by endorsing my candidacy, donating to my campaign, or volunteering to help me on Election Day.
Together we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.