Arlington County Board Approves Budget, Makes Changes

by Dan Lesniak

ArlingtonCoVaThe Arlington County Board announced its approved Fiscal Year 2016 budget last week, bringing some changes to Orange Line Living. There will be new additions to the budget as well as subtractions, balancing out the effect of the budget for the county and community overall. The $1.16 billion budget will help our schools, law enforcement and transportation services, as well as bring in a new auditor position and revamp some old programs.

Home owners can take note that they will not see an increase to their tax rate, which will remain at $0.996 per $100 of assessed value, but there will be an increase to their tax bill total. There has been a 4.9% rise in property assessments and an increase in water-sewer rates of 1.8%, bringing the average increase in tax payments for property owners up 4% or about $280. Despite this increase, Arlington County’s real estate tax rate is the lowest in the region.

Some key areas of budget increase will be in overall government spending, which will go up 1.1%, and Arlington Public Schools will receive 4.5% more for their budget compared to last year. There will be an extra $6.2 million added to the school district to address the concerns of rising enrollments. The good news for property owners is that the per-pupil cost will actually drop from $19,040 to $18,558 with the new budget.

In an effort to better control county spending and accountability, an internal auditor for the County Board will be hired with a budget of $200,000. The new auditor will focus on better financial oversight and program performance for Arlington County and thus help save money in the long run.

There were some major cuts announced with the new budget, the biggest being the closure of the Artosphere Arts & Cultural Center. As there has not been a consistent large enough draw of visitors to the center, it was determined the savings of $2.3 million in net taxpayer dollars would be better used elsewhere, in particular through new alternative arts and programing throughout the County. The Artosphere will close as of June 30, 2015.

Additional highlights of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget include:

  • 5 new Sheriff Deputy positions
  • Supplemental salary for the Public Defender office
  • Increase in jail based mental health services
  • $1.4 million for economic development
  • $100,000 for the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization
  • $1 million in Housing Grants
  • Funding to restore the county’s Live Where you Work program for County employees.

With the new budget approved, Arlington County is poised to continue its support of our community and residents. If you are looking to buy or sell your home, myself, and the Orange Line Living team are ready to support you. We work with you to provide our unique and specialized services so you can turn your plans into reality. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us directly at 571-969-7653, or at [email protected].

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