Wrap-Up Media Release for December 2023 Meeting
Published on December 22, 2023
The Arlington County Board considered and acted on many items at its Saturday and Tuesday Board meetings. These include the following:
Saturday, December 16, 2023 – Regular County Board Meeting
State Assembly Legislative Package - Item 11
The Arlington County Board adopted its 2024 State General Assembly legislative package, which includes the principles and priorities for the upcoming session. The principles: workforce resiliency, fully funding commitments to local government, and respecting local authority, will guide the engagement strategy for the legislative priorities. The adopted package includes two changes from the draft previously posted: protecting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding and clarifying language in our public/private partnership efforts to further expand climate goals.
MOU between AC and United Way – Item 20
The Board approved an amendment to the current MOU between Arlington County and the United Way of the National Capital Area, which will provide additional services from the United Way to support the development, implementation, and evaluation of the County's equity-based nonprofit funding model.
Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program Grant Funds – Item 21
The Board accepted and appropriated $7.1 million in Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Program grant funding to support the County's Transportation Demand Management (TDM) operating programs. CMAQ grant funding is split between federal funding (80%) and a local match provided by the state (20%); No match is required by Arlington County. Funds will be used to provide educational and promotional support to TDM efforts to help facilitate and market alternative commute options such as transit, biking, walking, and shared ride options.
CC2DCA – Item 23
The Board authorized agreements with the Federal Highway Administration, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the National Park Service, and the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Multimodal Connection Project (CC2DCA) on the National Park area and its natural, historic, and cultural resources. The County is currently completing an Environmental Assessment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act and will provide $1.6 million to fund mitigation efforts associated with both the construction of this project and the increased usage of its amenities after its completion.
Food Security Mini-Grant Awards – Item 26
The Board authorized 10 Food Security Mini-Grants to Community Organizations for a total award of $150,000. These grants will improve food security infrastructure within Arlington, supporting the goals of the County's Food Security Strategic Plan adopted in October 2022. The recipient list and associated descriptions of community organization food security activities are available in this item's Board report.
Barcroft Apartments Affordable Housing Financing Plan – Item 43
The Board approved The Barcroft Apartments Affordable Housing Financing Plan. The Plan outlines several elements, including:
Refinancing the $150 million County Acquisition Fund loan to separate County loans by phase as units associated with each phase are renovated and redeveloped;
Committing Arlington County and Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners to rent stabilization for current residents and to the provision of at least 134 units up to 30% Area Median Income (AMI) across the property;
Approving the Financing Commitment Letter for the First Renovation Phase of Barcroft Apartments, which includes 93 units and will provide affordable housing averaging up to 60% AMI, including 9 Permanent Supportive Housing units, and conversion of 18 two-bedroom homes to 14 three-bedroom homes and 4 four-bedroom homes; and Ratifying an earlier submitted HUD Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) competitive grant application to receive up to $10 million to rehabilitate 101 apartment homes, construct a resident community and amenity center, and improve two primary streets. It is anticipated HUD will make its selection and award notifications in 2024.
The County will explore land-use tools for the site as part of upcoming public engagement in 2024.
Establishing Stormwater Utility, Repealing Sanitary District Tax, Providing Stormwater Fee Relief – Item 44
The Board adopted an ordinance to establish a Stormwater Utility, adopted a resolution regarding Stormwater fee relief, and set the Stormwater Utility Equivalent Residential Unit annual rate. The Board's action also repeals the current Sanitary District Tax, effective December 31, 2023.
The County's Stormwater Management Fund is currently supported by the Sanitary District Tax, which generates funding based on property assessments. The tax is currently set at $0.017 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of all taxable real estate. This ordinance proposes replacing the Sanitary District Tax formula with a $258 per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) Rate. An ERU in Arlington County is calculated to be 2,400 square feet of impervious area. The rationale for using the amount of impervious area on each property, rather than all taxable real estate, is that it directly correlates with stormwater runoff that contributes to the County's stormwater system. Basing the rate structure on the amount of impervious area provides a nexus between the fee charged to each property and the amount of services provided by the County.
The approved Stormwater fee relief program will provide 100 percent fee relief for senior and disabled residential property owners, and disabled veterans and surviving spouses, that currently qualify for real estate tax exemptions and deferrals.
Adoption of the Forestry and Natural Resources Plan – Item 45
The Arlington County Board adopted the Forestry and Natural Resources Plan (FNRP). The FNRP updates and unifies the 2004 Urban Forest Master Plan and the 2010 Natural Resources Management Plan and will serve as the new 12th element of Arlington County's Comprehensive Plan. The FNRP is intended to be a holistic long-term planning tool that outlines over 80 policy recommendations organized into four interconnected Strategic Directions: Conservation; Climate Mitigation, Adaption, and Resilience; Biodiversity; and Operations.
Tentative Collective Bargaining Agreement between AFSCME and Arlington County – Item 47
The Board adopted a good faith resolution to fund the terms of the Tentative Collective Bargaining Agreement between The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 20, Local 3001 and Arlington County.
Requests to Advertise
The Board approved three Requests to Advertise for public hearings related to the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance and the General Land Use Plan. Requests to advertise are not final votes, and residents will have an opportunity to comment on these items at later dates.
ACZO Amendments re Green Building Standards - Item 37
This item will be heard by the Planning Commission and County Board in February 2024, and would introduce Green Building Standards into the Columbia Pike Commercial Form-Based Code and update the current minimum Green Building Standards in the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Form-Based Code. Both sets of changes would effectively contribute toward the goals in the County's Community Energy Plan and Green Building Incentive Policy.
ACZO Amendments re Elder Care - Item 38
This item will be heard by the Planning Commission and County Board in February 2024, and would update the Columbia Pike Commercial and Neighborhoods Form-Based Codes to establish elder care parking requirements, elder care bicycle parking requirements, and to update the affordability requirements for elder care development projects utilizing the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Form Based Code.
GLUP Amendment re Special Affordable Housing Protection District - Item 39
This item will be heard by the Planning Commission and County Board at a future public hearing concurrent with an associated site plan amendment and rezoning applications related to Site Plan #233 – the "Best Western Site".
This proposal is a GLUP amendment that expands the Special Affordable Housing Protection District on this site and would add the Williamsburg Apartments site to SP#233, propose an eight-story multi-family residential building of a maximum of 446 units, eliminate current hotel use of the site, and rezone the Red Lion hotel property from RA-H to RA4.8, consistent with the GLUP designation for this site. The applicant proposes constructing 42 bedrooms within 24 committed affordable units to ensure the replacement of the lost market-rate affordable units that would occur in redevelopment.
Tuesday, December 19, 2023 – Recessed County Board Meeting
Barcroft Apartments Preservation and Renovations - Item 9
The Board approved a use permit to preserve and renovate the Barcroft Apartment buildings #32-34 located within Section 4 of the overall apartment complex. This use permit will provide property improvements consistent with the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Special Revitalization District Form Based Code Conservation Area Standards.
ACZO Amendment re DPR Public Spaces - Item 12
The Board adopted an ordinance allowing the County Board the Authority to modify certain zoning standards for structures and amenities that the Department of Parks and Recreation operates in public spaces. This increased zoning flexibility can be particularly useful for DPR public space designs and layouts that are less than two acres in size, contain environmentally sensitive areas, and/or integrate stormwater facilities to meet state requirements.
Ranked Choice Voting - Item 16
The Board adopted an uncodified ordinance to establish Ranked Choice Voting in all County Board primary elections, beginning with the June 2024 County Board primary.
Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an election method that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Under Virginia state law, in years where only one seat is open, like the upcoming June 2024 County Board primary election, a candidate must receive more than 50% of votes to be declared the winner.
In elections with two open seats, candidates must secure more than 33% of votes to win in an election determined by RCV. If no candidate receives more than 33 percent of voters' first-ranked choices, the race is decided by one or several additional tabulation rounds using voters' ranked preferences. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who ranked that candidate as their first choice will have their votes count toward their 2nd choice. This process continues until two candidates emerge with more than 33 percent of the vote. This differs from previous elections, where the top two vote-getters win or advance to the general election in the case of a primary election.
Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Guidance – Item 49
The Board directed the County Manager to prepare a balanced FY 2025 budget that reflects county priorities while also acknowledging the economic pressures taxpayers and homeowners are experiencing. The Board also acknowledges the challenges of the currently estimated $25-40 million revenue gap and requests options for Board consideration, including possible service reductions and revenue increases.
The Board also directed the Manager to:
Fund Arlington's contribution for WMATA operations in the base budget at legislatively allowed maximums while utilizing transit reserve balances to maintain expanded service in the Transit Strategic Plan;
Continue prudent one-time funding with the intent of phasing out this use by FY 2026;
Fully fund the collective bargaining agreements currently in place, and to present compensation proposals consistent with the County’s Total Compensation Philosophy for those employees not covered by a bargaining unit;
Include funding or present funding options for affordable housing priorities such as eviction prevention, housing grants, and maintaining ongoing levels of AHIF funding;
Provide funding or program options to address increased food costs for residents in need;
Provide funding to APS consistent with the Principle of Revenue Sharing.
The Board further directed the Manager to provide programmatic updates on the following priorities as part of the proposed FY 2025 Budget:
Equity Resolution implementation amid the staff reorganization;
Plans that prioritize resiliency of operations and programs should we face adverse effects from climate change or other unexpected, significant events;
Public Safety service model and operational protocols should vacancies remain elevated;
Staffing and other resources necessary to implement the Barcroft Master Financing and Development Plan
The County Manager will present his proposed FY2025 budget to the Board in February 2024. The County Board will host a series of work sessions with departments and advisory groups in March and April 2024. The public hearing on the FY2025 proposed budget will be on April 2 and the public hearing for the proposed tax rates on April 4.
Let us know how you think the County should prioritize its FY 2025 spending.
Registering to Speak at future Public Hearings
Registration to speak on an item with a scheduled public hearing opens approximately a week before the meeting, and members of the public can either register online or call in at 703-228-3130. Those wanting to participate in these hearings can do so in person, virtually, or by phone and will receive instructions on these options once they have completed their registration. Members of the public wanting to speak on a Consent Agenda item must notify the County Board Office before 9 AM at Regular Meetings to request the item be pulled from the agenda. Agendas will note which consent agenda items are subject to public hearing requirements and which require Board member consent to be removed.
Members of the public are also strongly encouraged to subscribe to the County Board's News and Updates service to be alerted when meeting agendas are posted. Board meeting and agenda information can be accessed on the County Board's webpage.