Arlington City Council Adopts $518 Million Budget, 5th Consecutive Property Tax Rate Reduction
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communications
Posted on September 16, 2020, September 16, 2020

FY 2021 Budget and Business Plan

The Arlington City Council on Tuesday adopted the $518 million Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget, which includes a property tax rate reduction for the fifth year in a row, no increases for residents’ water and sewer rates, and slight increases in the garbage collection rate and storm water fee.

Budget plans for next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, include investments in public safety, public health and information technology, expansion of the successful Via rideshare transportation service citywide thanks largely to a federal grant, and support for Arlington’s award-winning parks and recreation amenities. This includes this week’s opening of The Beacon, which is the new recreation center at Webb Community Park in southeast Arlington, as well as the upcoming opening of the East Library and Recreation Center.

The budget also includes funding for a $450,000 generator to ensure the health and comfort of animals being cared for at Arlington Animal Services Center, a $200,000 land planning study along south State Highway 360, $2.2 million in new software to update and secure the backbone of the City’s finance and personnel systems, $325,000 for firefighter bunker gear and $211,392 to fulfill a federal COPS grant that has added 15 police officers.

Property Tax Rate and Exemptions

The council also voted to lower the City’s property tax rate for a fifth consecutive year, down from $0.6240 per $100 of assessed value to $0.6225 per $100 of assessed value. The City’s property tax rate, which remained flat for 14 years prior to the series of reductions, will now have dropped by about 2.5 cents since 2016.

The Arlington City Council also reauthorized a variety of residential property tax exemptions, including the largest homestead exemption by state law of 20% of the property value. The City also offers a senior tax freeze as well as $60,000 exemptions for those who are over 65, disabled veterans and disabled persons. Exemptions are also available to surviving spouses of U.S. Armed Forces members and first responders who are killed in action. Seniors over the age of 65 in Arlington may also be eligible to defer payments.

Water, Stormwater and Garbage Collection Rates

Arlington strives to provide quality services and amenities to its residents, visitors and business community at the lowest possible cost. In addition to keeping the City’s water rate the same for the coming fiscal year, Arlington also proposed a modest increase to the garbage collection rate and an increase to the stormwater rate by a quarter. This would be a 50% decrease over recent annual rate increases.

New rates will be in effect on Oct. 1 for trash and recycling collection services and the City’s stormwater (drainage) fee. The Stormwater Utility Fee will increase from $7.25 to $7.50 per month for households to help the City pay for a systematic investment in flood mitigation. The trash and recycling collection fee will increase from $16.01 per month to $16.21 per month.

Improving Equity

Improving equity and equality in Arlington is also a top priority. The recently appointed Unity Council will spend the next few months studying the best approaches to accomplish this. In the meantime, good, practical solutions are already being implemented.

For example, the council approved the elimination of the $20 public safety fee for police-initiated tows for uninsured motorists as well as the expansion of the “Build-a-Dream” scholarship program that allows youth to participate in parks programs. The City will also now begin refunding residential water deposits for customers with excellent payment history for 12 continuous months.

And, a soon-to-be completed Disparity Study will help the City strengthen its commitment to using Minority and Women Owned Businesses. This year’s budget includes $461,919 to implement the recommendations from the report in an effort to improve the City’s MWBE participation and progress toward greater equity.

Council Priorities

Arlington's proposed budget and business plan is built around supporting the City Council's five priorities: Champion Great Neighborhoods, Support Youth and Families, Invest in Our Economy, Enhance Regional Mobility and Put Technology to Work. Proposals include investing $27 million in road maintenance, nearly $159 million in public safety, $16.5 million for parks and $8 million for libraries.

Support Youth & Families, Coronavirus, Put Technology To Work, Champion Great Neighborhoods, Invest In Our Economy, Enhance Regional Mobility
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