Arlington Co. proposed 2022 budget focuses on safety net services, housing

County Manager Mark Schwartz tells the County Board the budget proposal could change with an infusion of additional federal funding

The fiscal year 2022 budget proposed for Arlington County, Virginia, prioritizes community relief, housing, equity and public safety.

The $1.36 billion measure announced Thursday by County Manager Mark Schwartz is a 1.4% increase over FY 2021. It includes a $5.1 million, 1%, increase, in funding for public schools.

But, Schwartz told the County Board an infusion of additional federal funding would prompt him to revisit the budget proposal.

The real estate tax rate of $1.013 per $100 of assessed value would not change. There is also a 2.2% increase in real estate assessments — 1.4% decrease for commercial properties and a 5.6% increase in residential properties.

A proposed increase in the stormwater tax rate would cost the average homeowner an additional $29 in 2022 versus 2021.

The living wage base pay for Arlington workers would go from $15 to $17 dollars an hour under the proposal, but county workers would not get merit-based pay increases and 56 full-time vacant positions that would be eliminated include 10 police officers and 10 deputy sheriffs.

The proposal includes money to implement suggestions from the Police Practices Group to create a civilian review board and to bolster the mental health crisis response program. Positions would be added in the Sheriff’s Office, the Public Defender and the Commonwealth’s Attorney, among others, in support of the police body-worn camera program.

In the fire department, 10 Kelly Day positions would be added to the fire department with money for a second class for recruits. Kelly Day staffing that would be in its final year of implementation in 2022 allows firefighters to work a shorter week so the department can remain competitive in the region.

Under the proposed budget, 4.6% of Arlington’s operating budget would be dedicated to housing, and more than 15% would be dedicated to safety net services and housing, according to county- provided data.

Around $17.5 million would be set aside to support pandemic-related issues, including rental assistance, eviction prevention, food assistance, emergency human services needs and support for the business community.

The Arlington County Board will review the budget proposal with work sessions beginning in March. Two public hearings will be held on Tuesday, April 6, and on Thursday, April 8. The final vote is scheduled for Saturday, April 17. Fiscal year 2022 begins July 1.

Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect the percent increase in real estate assessments. 

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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