May 2, 2022.
I am running for Arlington County Board on November 8, and I’m concerned that Arlington County Board is tax gouging its citizens.
On April 29 the Board adopted a $1.5 billion budget that includes a 5.3 percent effective real estate tax rate increase. Nothing new here. In fact between 2012 and 2021 Arlington’s ten year average annual effective real estate tax rate increase was double the rate of inflation (FY 2023 Online Budget, p. 95 ).
Are these over the top annual tax rate increases actually needed to fund the budget?
Neighboring jurisdictions have lowered real estate tax rates in the wake of rising assessments. In fact Fairfax County just adopted an FY2023 budget that “reduce[s] the Real Estate Tax rate by 3 cents to $1.11 per $100 of assessed value.”
The FY 2023 budget includes over 100 new hires (pp. 41–44 [54-57]), many of which match the job descriptions for dozens of unfilled County positions advertised for 30 days or more. If it can’t fill existing positions, why does the County need more new hires except to pad an already bloated budget?
Another issue that concerns me is the County’s lack of financial transparency. For example, it recently extended a $150 million loan to the buyers of the Barcroft Apartments on Columbia Pike, without divulging the actual purchase price or the fact that the assessed value of the property was only $138 million based on the County’s own real estate database at the time of sale.
On April 26 it awarded 1.7 million square feet of additional bonus density to Amazon for its headquarters at PenPlace in Crystal City. This is one and a half times the space occupied by the Chrysler Center in New York City. Yet County Board refused to divulge either the dollar value of the bonus density or the dollar value of the community benefits the County hopes to get in return.
This is a slap in the face to Arlington County taxpayers who deserve to know where their tax dollars are going and whether they are invested properly.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that County Board members just awarded themselves a $20,000 pay increase. I don’t begrudge hardworking government employees pay raises to keep up with inflation. But where is the hard work in avoiding hard decisions by kowtowing to staff? Yet this is how the Board routinely operates.
If elected I am going to demand financial transparency in the reporting of major County transactions. I will also:
- Seek immediate tax relief for residents and businesses.
- Say YES to affordable housing and NO to “Missing Middle” up-zoning.
- Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear-cutting wooded areas on public property.
- Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.
As an 18-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and former member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience andindependence to promote these reforms.
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.