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Sunday, November 27, 2022
ArlingtonCandidate: Current board members aren't worth higher salaries

Candidate: Current board members aren’t worth higher salaries

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An independent candidate for Arlington County Board says she’d be OK with a major pay raise for County Board members, if they were providing adequate oversight duties.

But they’re not, Audrey Clement contends.

“Where is the hard work in avoiding hard decisions by kowtowing to staff?” Clement asked in a recent campaign missive to supporters. “This is how the board routinely operates.”

As part of the fiscal 2023 budget process just concluded, County Board members voted to raise their maximum allowable pay from $57,337 to $89,851 – an increase of 57 percent. The maximum pay rate for the chair, a position that rotates among board members on a calendar-year basis, would rise from $63,071 to $95,734.

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Board members did not take the entire chunk at once, but if past history is a guide, within a few years the salary for the elected positions will be at the new maximum.

Clement, who is a perennial candidate for office (although she prefers the term “protest candidate”), said the recently adopted $1.5 billion county budget was bloated and that the county was gouging homeowners by maintaining the existing tax rate despite another year of significant increases in property assessments.

Over the past three years, the typical county homeowner has seen tax bills rise about 17 percent, owing to higher assessments and an increase in the stormwater-management surcharge that is tacked atop tax bills.

“Are these over-the-top annual tax-rate increases actually needed?” Clement asked.

For the more than a decade that she has run for office, Clement generally competed in County Board elections. In 2014 and 2018, however, she opted for School Board runs, which some saw as a way of trying to assist independent John Vihstadt’s bid for County Board by staying off the ballot for that office those years.

(If that was the tactic, it proved helpful in 2014, when Vihstadt won, but not so much in 2018, when he was defeated by Democrat Matt de Ferranti.)

De Ferranti is seeking a second term this November, and did not have opposition on his way to the Democratic nomination. The deadline for Republicans and independents to file is June 21; the general election is Nov. 8.

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