The late and, to many of us, great Arlington fiscal-restraint advocate Tim Wise used to call it “Arlogance” – the self-satisfied contempt that one-party rule had allowed county officials to lord over the populace.
Arlogance was in full swing for about a decade prior to 2014, a year when fed-up voters slapped the Democratic oligarchy around and, for a while, elected officials (both existing and those who would succeed them) began acting with a little more respect for the public they served.
But last week’s decision by Arlington County Board members not to trim the existing real-estate tax rate by even a token amount, despite the third year of massive increases in assessments and now the impact of inflation, shows the current board is back to the Arlogance ways of its predecessors, and may even be exceeding past levels.
Two years ago, at the height of the pandemic when there was a very real question whether people were going to have jobs to go to in the future, then-County Board member Libby Garvey came out and said it directly. The county government, she pronounced, needed the money more than homeowners did. (We’re paraphrasing, but close.)
The board’s four other members – Katie Cristol, Matt de Ferranti, Takis Karantonis and Christian Dorsey – had a little more savvy than to be so blunt (having hopes to move up the political ladder, as some of them do), but that’s obviously how they feel, too.
Contrast the County Board’s actions to neighboring Falls Church, where City Council members this month OK’d a 9-cent cut in the tax rate. Even in Fairfax County, where supervisors are no friends of taxpayers, plans are in the works for a 3-cent cut in the rate – not enough, in our view, but certainly at least something.
The tax-rate vote suggests Arlington appears destined for an ever-increasing amount of “Arlogance” from its leaders, with no escape valve likely at the ballot box.
That’s just not good for either the community – or the politicians who purportedly serve it.
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To end on a less cranky note, we will credit County Board members with eliminating the regressive “decal fee” – a vestige of an era when there actually were windshield decals denoting payment of car taxes. (The car tax itself, though reduced, is not going anywhere.)
The decal fee was regressive and should have been nixed long ago. But better late than never, so it is appropriate to give some credit where credit is due.