FY 2024 Proposed Budget Responds to Community Priorities

Published on February 22, 2023

County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed FY 2024 budget responds to the community’s needs and priorities while also addressing the shortfall for the coming fiscal year. The County’s General Fund Budget provides foundational services for the community, including public safety, environmental services, transportation and schools; this year’s proposal has additional focus on human services and affordable housing.

The proposal details $1.54 billion in General Fund spending, a 2.8 percent increase over FY 2023. The budget is based on a 3.6 percent growth in real estate assessments and a 4.9 percent growth in overall tax revenue. The proposed budget also assumes no changes in the real estate and stormwater tax rates.

Early forecasts projected a budget gap of over $30 million between anticipated revenues and expenditures for FY 2024, and while there has been revenue growth in real estate assessments and in meals and sales taxes, the County continues to face budgetary pressures, including commercial vacancies, inflation and rising interest rates.

The Manager’s proposed budget also includes $5.6 million in departmental reductions to balance the budget, which includes eliminating 20.3 vacant positions.

"This budget proposal helps us transition to a future that looks different from the world we knew prior to COVID,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “Given the financial pressures we continue to face, we had to make hard decisions that reflect our commitment to our community and our workforce. The budget also emphasizes affordable housing and efforts to stabilize households in Arlington to create a more equitable community.”

Investments in the Community

The Proposed FY 2024 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:

  • Workforce Investment for County Employees:  The FY 2024 budget proposal includes salary increases and additional benefits for County employees, including expanded parental leave, bereavement leave, and increased contributions for adoptions and Health Savings Accounts.
  • Housing Support: The proposed budget includes $76 million dedicated to housing programs, with an emphasis on stabilizing housing for households in need and improving housing conditions. These investments include $14.4 million for the County’s Housing Grant program, $5.4 million for the Permanent Supporting Housing program and $3.6 million for eviction prevention. The budget also maintains the prior year’s ongoing funding level of $9.7 million for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).
  • Capital Investments: The Manager’s budget includes investments that benefit the community in the areas of energy management, facilities, parks, technology and transportation. These investments include street lighting and safety improvements, electric vehicle chargers, and playground design and replacement.
  • Schools: For FY 2024, the proposed budget includes a County transfer of $607.6 million—46.8% of local tax revenues—to Arlington Public Schools. This is a 4% increase over FY 2023.
  • Commercial Resiliency: To address the high commercial vacancy rate and support economic recovery for the business community, the proposed budget includes $1 million for the Arlington Innovation Fund and continued small business support.

Budget Engagement Process

The County Manager collected feedback from the community on approaches to balancing the budget and which services and programs should be kept as top priorities through an online form and in-person pop-up engagement opportunities. Over 2,400 participants weighed in on the budget, either online or at in-person pop-up engagements. The feedback from the community helped the County Manager determine where to apply resources. View the Engagement Overview here.

Tax Rate & Next Steps

After the County Manager submitted his proposed budget, the Arlington County Board voted on advertising no changes to the current year tax rates and proposed fee schedule changes. Next, the Board will review the budget proposal and conduct a series of work sessions, starting in early March. The County Board will then hold a budget hearing on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, and a tax rate hearing on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Members of the public can sign up to speak in public hearings in person or virtually. Visit the County Board Webpage to sign up as a speaker. The final vote on the FY 2024 operating budget is scheduled for Saturday, April 22, 2023. The fiscal year begins on July 1, 2023.

Learn more about the FY 2024 Budget here.

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