County Manager Shares Budget Forecast for FY 2019

Published on October 24, 2017

  • $10-13 million estimated gap between revenue and expenditures for County

  • Recommendations for $11.1 million in FY 2017 close-out funds

  • Input sought on FY 2019 proposed budget and close-out recommendations

During the Oct. 24 County Board Meeting, County Manager Mark Schwartz presented his Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget projections, which show moderate ongoing revenue growth of 2.9 percent in FY 2019 and a growth of 4.0 percent in expenditures. Such a scenario would result in a funding gap ranging from $10-13 million. The County is forecasting modest growth in single family and multi-family assessments. The gap is for the County government alone and does not include any projection for Arlington Public Schools (APS) revenues and expenditures.

"This is a preliminary projection — it's still early in the budget-building process," said County Manager Mark Schwartz. "We have additional information that will come in the next few months — including actuarial reports for our pension and retiree healthcare, state budget proposals as well as Metro's updated financial forecast."

The current projected funding gap assumes the current real estate tax rate of $1.006 per $100 of assessed value (including the sanitary district tax), the lowest tax rate in northern Virginia. The forecast is a largely continuing operations and services budget, with the exception of expansions in transit service as laid out in the Board-adopted Transit Development Plan.

The County has been holding budget roundtables at different locations around Arlington. The roundtables are designed to gather community input that helps to shape the FY 2019 Proposed Budget, which goes to the Board in February 2018. Through November 22, residents also can join an interactive online conversation about the FY 2019 budget.

FY 2017 Close-out Recommendations — Input Sought

Fiscal year 2017 ended with a surplus above the amount carried over for reserves and other restricted funding. In total, the General Fund balance was down $4.8 million from the prior year to $186.4 million. Of this total, 94% or $175.3 million is required for reserves, restricted funding, allocations already approved by Board action, or for continuing projects that straddle fiscal years. The balance of $11.1 million is recommended to a few areas described in more detail below.

In a presentation to the Board at its Oct. 24 Recessed Meeting, the Manager proposed continuing his multi-year shift in approach to close-out — focusing available funding allocations on a few major categories of priorities consistent with the Board's policies. The County continues to move away from providing initial funding for new programs through close-out, Schwartz said.

The $11.1 million balance is 1.5 percent of the revised FY 2017 County General Fund budget, excluding schools, Schwartz noted — the lowest as a percent of the total budget in recent years.  "Good financial management and retention of the triple-AAA bond ratings require that the County ends each year with a surplus," Schwartz noted.

The Manager's proposed allocation of available FY 2017 funding includes:

  • Critical Life Safety Needs: $2.0 million for investment in continued safety and access to the detention center and courts building.

  • Affordable Housing: $5.2 million in one-time funding for the FY 2019 AHIF program.

  • Public Safety Position Reclassifications: $1.75 million in one-time funding for several positions in public safety that were reclassified to reflect changes in federal law.

  • Operating contingent: The County Manager has historically maintained a contingent to address unforeseen needs that arise during the current fiscal year ($1.25 million).

  • Facilities Studies: $0.9 million for follow-up work on the Joint Facilities Advisory Committee work, as directed by the County Board.

You can share feedback on the close-out recommendations by emailing Comments will be compiled and shared with the County Board before its November meeting, where they will vote on close-out spending.

Read the budget-related staff reports and the presentations made to the Board at its Tuesday, Oct. 24 Recessed Meeting (scroll down to items No. 46 and No. 47.)