ARLINGTON, Va. --- Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan today previewed for the Arlington County Board a proposed $1.1 billion budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 that is balanced with no tax rate increase. Excluding the Schools transfer, the budget for County operations totals $687.7 million, a 1.8 % increase over the adopted FY 2014 budget. The proposed budget is 2.6% higher than FY 2014.
In November, 2013, Donnellan had forecast a combined $20-25 million budget gap for Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools.
“The gap between funding for ongoing County services and revenues that I predicted in the fall was eliminated by our higher-than-anticipated real estate assessments," Donnellan said. “But we must still work to achieve efficiencies and continue to invest in our community."
Donnellan highlighted strategic priorities of her budget during a work session with the County Board. Those include:
The proposed budget includes a transfer to Arlington Public Schools of $432.2 million, an increase in ongoing funding of $19.6 million, or 4.7% over FY 2014; Arlington Public Schools continue to spend the highest per pupil amount in the region, and remains one of the best public school districts in the nation. The proposed budget also funds the Schools’ projected new enrollment costs, as well as the continued funding of over $8 million of direct support to Schools, including nurses, School Resource Officers (police assigned directly to schools) and crossing guards.
The proposed budget continues Arlington’s significant investment in affordable housing. The Manager proposes an investment of $34.3 million in local tax dollars in housing -- or 5.1 percent of the General Fund budget, excluding the Schools transfer. Highlights include:
Under the Manager's Proposed Budget, the overall tax and fee burden for the average Arlington household would increase from $7,003 to $7,371, an increase of 5.3%, or about $31 a month and $368 per year. This primarily reflects the 5.3% increase in the average residential property assessment and a 3.4% increase in the water-sewer rate. The proposed increase in the water-sewer rate is due to inflation and the addition of engineers and system technicians needed to operate the expanded, upgraded Water Pollution Control Plant. The Manager is also proposing increasing the household solid waste rate by 2.4 %.
The Manager also proposes increasing Arlington Transit (ART) bus service fares. She proposes increasing the adult fare from $1.50 to $1.75 in the coming fiscal year. Smaller increases are proposed for seniors and students using the ART system. Fees also will increase for those transferring from Metrorail service to ART buses. Fees for some users of the County's Specialized Transit for Arlington Residents (STAR) service also will increase. The County Manager is proposing to increase the "Zone 1" STAR fare (to the most close-in locations) from $3.00 to $3.50 for a one-way trip.
The County Manager sought feedback from the community in putting together her proposed FY 2015 Budget. Residents were invited to make comments and suggestions online, the Manager met with Commission chairs in November and she and the Superintendent of Schools held a joint public budget forum in December. The County Manager also held an online budget chat with employees. She will formally present the budget to the Board at the February, 2014 County Board Meeting.
The Board will hold a series of public work sessions on the budget and two public hearings; information will be posted on the FY 2015 Budget webpage. The first budget hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25. The second, on tax and fee proposals, will be held Thursday, March 27. The Board will adopt the budget in April, and the new fiscal year will begin in July. To view the Board’s meeting schedule, visit the County website.
For more information on the FY 2015 Budget, visit the County website and search “FY 2015.” The County Manager’s full Proposed Budget will be available Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, on the FY 2015 Budget webpage.
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world -- including the Pentagon -- Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.