Tariffs and the CIP, Tax Relief, Tin Roofs, Immigrant Children

As the summer weather arrives, your Board has been working through our ten-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and June’s meeting agenda.

Capital Improvement Plan
Our work on the ten-year CIP is relatively constrained because we will have less revenue in the current two-year period than we expected, and our investment needs for Metro and schools have increased. The new tariffs on steel and aluminum will also raise costs for projects in the works. Taken together, it is clear we will not be doing new projects, but simply trying to keep our facilities in a state of good repair and complete the projects we have already committed.

You can watch our work sessions and read the whole CIP online. Each work session agenda notes the pages in the Manager’s proposed CIP if you want to read the document and watch the meeting. I think the Board generally agrees with the Manager’s recommendations. We are hopeful that Schools can adopt a CIP that meets their needs and is within the budget constraints we all have.

Cooperating with Schools
Our cooperation with schools was a highlight of the main item for Saturday’s meeting: temporarily leasing parking spaces at 1425 N Quincy Street to free up much needed space for school buses at the Trade Center. Using that property for temporary parking was a use approved by the Joint Facilities Advisory Committee (JFAC).

Erik Gutshall and I are liaisons to the JFAC, which is developing their work plan. Erik outlined our suggested general, four-part plan for JFAC: constructing an inventory of County facilities; scoping out a master plan for their future work; doing some visioning for future facility needs; and advising on urgent near term needs. This plan will allow JFAC to build the foundation it needs to advise us on good long-term planning and to help with current needs.

Real Estate Tax Relief for Seniors
We advertised an updated tax relief for seniors policy. How to help ensure that seniors can afford to age in the community they helped build is a challenge. Our discussion about whether to defer taxes or to forgive them completely (we advertised both options) and how to decide who qualifies for what, shows how complicated this issue is. We plan to adopt a form of the policy next month and welcome your thoughts as we wrestle with it.

Historic Homes
We listened to an appeal of a homeowner who lives in Maywood and needs a new roof, but wants to replace the historic stamped tin roof with much less expensive asphalt shingles. The cost difference is about $25,000. But the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) ruled that the historically significant home must use stamped tin because no other roof material keeps the historic character of the home. The HALRB itself was split, but voted to deny the request. Our role on the County Board was only to rule on whether the HALRB had acted properly, following procedures, and not capriciously. We upheld the HALRB decision, but were concerned that costs could prevent people from being able to repair their homes. We asked staff to looking into establishing some way, such as low cost loans, to help people who cannot afford to follow the historic guidelines.

Families and Our Values
Finally, I rarely comment in Board meetings on national issues that do not immediately affect Arlington. However, the Federal policy of separating children from their parents crossed a line for me, and I felt I had to speak out. If you have not listened to the ProPublica recording of children in detention crying for their parents and begging for help, you should. It is not easy to hear, but this is an issue that requires attention from every American. We cannot ignore it. I have given to Aldea (there are many organizations helping directly). I plan to join the demonstration on June 30th with my family and, I hope, several hundred thousand others.

Jun, 21, 2018