Budget priorities, an historic school and farmhouse, and two April celebrations

After a packed meeting last month, our March meeting was quite a bit lighter, in part because we are working through our budget as we prepare to adopt it in April.

FY 2018 Budget
As I shared last month, the County Manager’s budget proposal is online. He designed it based on an assumption of raising the tax rate by 2 cents. Each penny on the tax rate is about $7.4 million in revenue for the County, and a 2-cent (or $14.8 million) increase would allow us to pass a budget that continues current services while also covering additional costs for Metro and our rising school population. In February, my colleagues asked the Manager to offer an alternative budget based on a 1-cent tax increase.

The Board faces a major decision in whether to raise the tax rate by one or two cents and what to cut if we select the one-penny increase. We will have our public hearings on the budget tomorrow, March 28th, and on the tax rate this Thursday, March 30th. You can sign up to speak at these hearings online. You can also submit your feedback about the proposed budget via our online form.

As I consider our FY 2018 budget needs, I will focus on maintaining our good schools, supporting our police and fire departments, and strengthening mental health services. We have seen our need for mental health services increase over time. We are not alone; this is a regional and national trend. Comprehensively addressing mental health needs is the right thing to do both morally and fiscally. Early intervention improves outcomes for our residents and saves money in the long run.

March Business: Stratford & Reevesland
The County Board officially approved the permits for the Stratford middle school project to move forward. Stratford will be returning to its original use as a neighborhood middle school starting in the fall of 2019. Arlington Public Schools will build an addition with facilities that meet the needs of today’s middle schoolers, while preserving the living legacy for our youth to walk through the same doors as the students who made Stratford Virginia’s first integrated public school in 1959.

We voted to subdivide the Reevesland farmhouse property, allowing us to sell the house. The County has tried for 16 years to find a partner to invest in a public use of the house, but has been unsuccessful. Although Arlington will sell the house, there will be many historical restrictions to ensure its preservation. We also voted to add 2 acres around the house to our parkland, keeping the “sledding hill” and improving facilities for the raised bed gardens that the Reevesland Learning Center uses for its very successful “Lawns to Lettuce” program.

Phoenix Bikes Makers Ball: April 20th — Come Party!
I hope I will see you at the Phoenix Bikes Maker Ball on Thursday, April 20th from 6:30-9:30 pm. Phoenix Bikes is my favorite local non-profit. They will be moving into the ground floor of the Arlington Mill Community Center later this year and hosting the national Youth Bike Summit. It is an exciting step for Phoenix Bikes, the youth they serve, and our Arlington community. They need and deserve your support, and the Makers Ball is always a fun time!

More Celebration: Get Your Kicks for my 66th!
The celebrating continues the following Sunday, April 23rd as I invite you to Get Your Kicks to celebrate my 66th birthday. The party will run from 4-6 pm. Additional party and contribution details are on my Get Your Kicks website. I hope that you will come and celebrate with me.

Mar, 27, 2017