County Board Hid Salary Hike In a Staff Report

PRESS RELEASE: May 8, 2023.

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board on November 7, 2023, and I’m concerned about the current Board’s lack of fiscal transparency. In addition to a 4.7 percent effective real estate tax rate increase, the Board’s FY 2024 budget includes a 15% Board member salary hike.

Board member salaries will increase from $77,648 to $89,851, and the Chair’s salary will go from $83,413 to $95,735. That represents a 75 percent increase in Board salaries since 2015, while the Consumer Price Index increased by only 23.5 percent between 2015 and 2022.

If you’re just learning about this now, that’s no accident. While ARLnow reported the latest salary numbers following budget adoption, I had to FOIA the County to get Board members’ historical salary information.

Unlike Fairfax County, which had a robust debate over proposed salary hikes for its board members this year, Arlington County Board’s salary hike was not included in the County Manager’s proposed budget for FY 2024. Instead it surfaced as a line item for additional expenditures in a staff report for the April 22 Board meetingThus no one outside County government knew about the salary hike prior to publication of the meeting agenda.

Some may agree with Board member Libby Garvey that the Board deserves a pay hike. Considering that it is largely staff driven and does little real work, I have my doubts.

What bothers me though is that Board salary hikes are not published along with other proposed employee salary adjustments in the annual budget. If indeed Board members are worth their salt, why didn’t they advertise the proposed increase up front like the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS)?

If elected, I will demand fiscal transparency in announcing County Board emoluments.

I also pledge to:

  • Seek immediate tax relief for residents and businesses.
  • Demand full transparency in the deals the County cuts with developers.
  • Reduce the office vacancy rate by insisting that DC area federal agencies comply with Executive Order 12072, which requires them to give “first consideration” to relocating to the central business districts of principal cities like Arlington whenever their leases expire.
  • Preserve Arlington’s cultural heritage. Stop permitting the destruction of historic structures like the Rouse estate.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy. Stop clearcutting wooded areas along streams like Donaldson Run and Gulf Branch.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy.
  • Donate to my campaign.
  • Help make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.
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