A homeowner in Arlington in need of a fire department inspection for his business and seeking treatment for substance abuse will be the most impacted by the new fiscal year 2018 fees. Next week marks the start of budget season, and with it a series of proposed new fees and tax rates for a variety of services.
At a County Board work session at 4 p.m. on Feb 23, County Manager Mark Schwartz will preview the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget. The budget will formally be presented at the Feb 25 County Board meeting, where the board will vote consider requests to advertise 19 fee increases and other items related to the FY 2018 budget. Details on many of the larger budget questions remain hushed in the week before the official release, but among the 19 fee increases proposed at the Feb 25 meeting are several that could impact many Arlingtonians.
The first is a request to advertise a public hearing to consider a calendar year 2017 real estate tax rate, commercial real estate tax rate, and a sanitary district tax rate. The County Board will also consider a maximum general personal property tax rate of $5 per $100 of assessed value, a continuation of the current rate. The real estate tax rate is still to be determined.
The County Board will consider a proposed increase to the Household Solid Waste Rate by $6.88 to a total of no more than $314.16 per household. According to the budget item, the rate increase is proposed to raise revenues necessary to finance expenses related to the county’s solid waste program. The increased rate is estimated to generate a total of $10.4 million in revenue in FY2018. The board will also consider rate increases for a variety of refuse and recycling services.
Part of the budget includes new fees for the substance abuse treatment and services, peer support services, and medication administration provided through the Department of Human Services. Among Department of Human Services sectors hit with fees include Substance Abuse Case Management, Office-Based Opioid Treatment, Peer Support Services, and Medication Administration. Low income, uninsured clients are charged a rate based on their income or can apply for a hardship reduction or waiver of the fee. These fees are expected to generate $66,000 a year.
Permitting fees from the Arlington County Fire Department, untouched since 2008, will also likely see a large increase. Currently, inspections for assembly permits, hazardous materials, childcare, drycleaners and special events are all priced between $42.50 and $170, dependent on building capacity or number of attendees for special events. The county manager recommendation increases these rates to between $122.50 and $250. The increased fees are estimated to generate an additional $33,645 in revenue.
The last budget item on the agenda is a proposed 3.5 percent salary increase for the Arlington County Board Chairman and County Board members. Currently, the County Board chairman’s salary is $56,628 and salaries for County Board members is $51,480. The total cost of the pay increase would be $11,851.
The increase will still leave the County Board chairman and members below the maximum salary. In FY 2012, the County Board set the maximum salary for County Board chairman at $63,071 and County Board member as $57,337. The board may set its maximum salary only once every four years and must do so prior to July 1 of a year in which at least two County Board seats are up for election. In 2015, two County Board seats were up for election but the County Board took no action to increase the maximum salary. The next opportunity to increase the maximum salary will be 2019.