County Presents Legislative Wish List

County Presents Legislative Wish List

The top priority is to secure reimbursement funding for human services programs.

County officials have asked legislators to introduce budget amendments to secure reimbursement funding for human services programs Arlington is expected to lose this year.

Gov. Tim Kaine has asked the General Assembly for $1.7 million — matching a $4.8 million federal grant — to pay for the construction an assisted living center in Arlington to house seniors with mental disabilities. Del. Bob Brink and Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple will attempt to reinstate some of the additional $8.7 million that was supposed to be used for additional mental health counselors, upgrade prevention services and bolster the county's supportive housing program.

"We have needy populations that need to be addressed and this is money that Arlington used based on assurances from the state," Brink said.

The county is hoping several bills will be passed that would bolster its efforts to preserve and expand the stock of affordable housing. One such bill would provide tax credits and other incentives to increase the number of affordable units. Another would allow non-profit organizations to purchase units occupied by elderly or disabled tenants who can no longer pay their rents, allowing the residents to continue living in their apartments.

"We are looking for every possible tool in the toolbox on affordable housing," said Pat Carroll, Arlington’s legislative liaison.

Other requests supported by the county include:

*Efforts to secure reliable and permanent sources of non-General Fund dollars for transportation, and a minimum of $50 million annually for the Metro system.

*Grants for alternative energy sources and backing Kaine’s initiative to preserve an additional 400,000 acres of land, including 20 percent of the Chesapeake watershed.

*Authority to regulate smoking in public places.

* Benefit coverage for domestic partners and dependents by public employers, as is currently permitted for private employers.

* The county will oppose any legislation that is aimed at restricting the rights of undocumented immigrant students to receive in-state tuition at public colleges.