Proposed FY 2023 Budget Looks Toward Post-Pandemic Future
Published on February 12, 2022
County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed FY 2023 budget begins to look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on the County workforce, affordable housing, schools and the environment.
In all, the proposal details $1.47 billion in General Fund spending, a 5.5-percent increase over FY 2022. The budget is based on 3.4 percent growth in real estate assessments and 7 percent growth in overall tax revenue. The proposed budget includes no change to current property tax rates.
Although revenues are recovering, there is still uncertainty with some revenue sources, such as hotel taxes and non-tax revenue like parking meters, which Schwartz says the County will continue to monitor.
“After nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, our community and County workforce have demonstrated resilience and our commitment to community services remains steadfast,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “As such, this budget prioritizes County services and programs important to our community, while investing in our workforce, who have gone without meaningful merit pay increases for two years.”
Investing in Community Priorities
The Proposed FY 2023 budget is the result of months of study, evaluation and input from the public on how best to invest available revenue. Core investments in the Proposed Budget include:
- Affordable housing: The budget focuses on continued eviction prevention and increasing housing support, with $14.3 million in housing grant support and adding $588,000 (for a total of $3.4 million) to permanent supportive housing. The budget also includes $23 million in federal funding for housing choice vouchers and $16.9 million for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).
- Environment: The budget includes new investments of more than $4.4 million to execute energy and climate resilient programs to combat climate change. This includes $1 million for an Arlington CEP (Community Energy Plan) Action Fund to address opportunities to affect climate change. These investments could include additional electrification of County vehicles, energy efficiency projects, and the advancement of the Community Energy Plan.
- Employee compensation: To improve retention and recruitment, this year’s budget includes merit increases of 4.25 percent for general employees and 6.5 percent for uniformed employees. The budget also includes a 3 percent increase to the minimum and maximum of pay grades and a one-time bonus of $1,600 gross. Funding is also included to begin the implementation of the collective bargaining ordinance.
- Public safety: This will be the first full year of the Fire Department’s Kelly Day, which increased staffing levels to allow firefighters to work a 50-hour week schedule rather than a 56-hour week allowing us to remain competitive in the region. The budget also includes funding for the implementation of the Police Practices Group recommendations, including the continuation of the Community Oversight Board and crisis intervention support.
- Schools: A transfer of $576 million from the County to Arlington Public Schools, an increase of $46 million compared to FY 2022.
After the Manager submits his proposed budget, the Arlington County Board will vote on an advertised tax rate on Tuesday, February 15. The Board will review the budget proposal and conduct a series of work sessions starting in early March. The County Board will hold a budget hearing on March 29th and a tax rate hearing on March 31st. You can participate in person or virtually. To sign up to speak, visit the County Board webpage. The final vote on the FY 2023 operating budget is scheduled for Saturday, April 23. The fiscal year beings July 1.