Saturday, April 19, 2014

Democrats to Seek Watered-Down Internal Audit Function

Hello, Yupette,

While the County Board majority (Fisette, Hynes, and Tejada) seemed to agree with Board Member John Vihstadt on April 16th about going ahead with implementing an independent internal audit function in County Government, what they actually will agree to is an Internal Auditor who will not be independent and who will be a 'team player' in the County Manager's Office.

While Vihstadt is seeking an independent Internal Auditor who has received certification by the Institute of Internal Auditors (check it out on the Web), the County Board majority, County Manager's Office, and Arlington Democratic Party are fearful that any internal auditor or auditors that adhere to IAA's standards of ethics and objectivity will discover and reveal the extent the of the County Board / County Manager fiscal irresponsibility, including non-adherence to accounting standards, lack of objective criteria (cronyism), mismanagement, and fraud.

County Manager Donnellan and Finance Director Cowan refused to answer direct questions by County Board member Libby Garvey about TIF funds related to Crystal City and Vihstadt's questions about transportation funds related to the Pike streetcar on April 16th.

The County Board and County Manager will attempt to reach an agreement about an Internal Auditor for County Government over the next several months.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

FY 2015 Budget Motion/Streetcar - JEV


This is the verbatim motion made during the April 16th County Board/County Manager FY 2015 Budget Work Session by County Board Member John Vihstadt, seconded by County Board Member Libby Garvey, and defeated by a 3-2 vote, County Board Members Hynes, Fisette, and Tejada voting against:

(1)  No funds shall be expended in the FY 2014 or FY 2015 operating budgets for the purpose of furthering, either directly, or indirectly, a streetcar on Columbia Pike or in Crystal City, except to the extent that such expenditures are required to meet contractual or other legal obligations entered into by the County prior to the date of this motion;

(2)  Within 30 days, County staff shall provide the Board and the public with a complete and transparent accounting of all funds contained in the FY 2014 and FY 2015 budgets that are intended , either directly or indirectly, for either the Columbia Pike or Crystal City streetcar project; and

(3)  Within 60 days, County staff shall recommend to the Board and the public alternative uses of all such funds designated for the Columbia Pike streetcar, provided that: (1) no funds shall be used to support streetcar funds in any other corridor; (2) a substantial portion of any funds derived from the Transportation Capital Fund or any other source dedicated solely for transportation uses shall be designated to improve existing bus service on Columbia Pike, including, but not limited to, improvements consistent with the TSM-2  proposal contained in the County's 2012 Alternatives Analysis/Environmental Assessment for Columbia Pike; and (3) a substantial portion of any funds not dedicated solely for transportation uses shall be used for the benefit of Arlington County public schools.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vikstadt, Garvey Motions Defeated to Defund Streetcars, Crystal City TIF. Independent Auditor Will Go Forward.


John Vihstadt delivered tonight on campaign promises to stop construction of the proposed Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcars by offering a 3-part motion to: 1) Defund any County Government expenditures in FY 14 and FY 15 for Columbia Pike or Crystal City streetcar systems 2) Provide the County Board and the public with a full and transparent accounting of all FY 14 and FY 15 funds intended directly or indirectly for the Pike or Crystal City streetcar project 3) Task County Staff with recommending alternative uses of funds dedicated to the Columbia Pike streetcar so a) No funds be used for any streetcar project in any other corridor b) A substantial portion of any funds dedicated solely for transportation will be used to improve bus transportation on the Pike c) A substantial portion of funds not dedicated solely for transportation will be used to benefit Arlington's public schools.

For her part, County Board Member Garvey offered a motion to prohibit using TIF funds for Crystal City Infrastructure. According to County Staff, a Crystal City streetcar system and other Crystal City infrastructure would consume hundreds of millions in TIF funds, which would be debited from the General Fund accounts over the next decade.

Both motions were defeated by a 3-2 vote (Fisette, Hynes, and Tejada voting against), after acrimonious accusations by County Board Members Tejada and Fisette that Vihstadt and Garvey aren't going along with a previous County Board's program.

On a more positive note, John Vistadt's campaign promise to bring an Independent Auditor to County Government appears to have been accepted by all County Board members and is going forward.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Latest AHIF-AHC Pike 'Affordable Housing' Purchase - A Huge Charade

Hey Yupette,

Maybe you saw the discussion at Saturday's County Board meeting, followed by the County Board's (with the exception of John Vihstadt) vote to approve Arlington Housing Corporation's purchase of the Serrano Apartments on Columbia Pike. Maybe you read Post reporter Patricia Sullivan's report in Sunday's Post about the purchase. Maybe you saw local residents who attended the County Board meeting voice their opposition to more affordable housing in the Columbia Pike corridor. What a charade.

But you can see for yourself by doing a Web search on 'Serrano Apartments Arlington'. Then read the staff report for Agenda Item 35 on the County's Web site

The Serrano Apartments 'affordable housing'? Affordable for whom? Entry-level CIA employees. Recent law school graduates. Creative Class Yupsters who've been living in a townhouse with three roommates and just received a big promotion.

Turns out that, of the 280 well-maintained and recently modernized units at the Serrano, exactly 28 are affordable to persons who earn 60% of Area Median Income as defined by HUD ($107,000 in 2014). So 60% of $107,000 is $64,200. The rest of the 'affordable' units, there are 196, will be rented to persons earning 80% of AMI or. $85,600 per year. The other 56 units will be rented at market rate. How much do you have to earn per week if you are employed full-time to earn $64,200 and $85,600? About $1,235 and about $1,646.

How much does someone earning $10 and employed in one of the restaurants or retail shops in a mixed-use redevelopment approved by the County Board in recent years? About $20,800 per year, or $400 per week.

It gets worse. Limo Liberals from VOICE didn't bother to complain, much less attend Saturday's County Board meeting. 'Affordable Housing' in Arlington is a huge charade, and many different organizations get to play leading roles.

Pike Rider 22204

Friday, April 11, 2014

School Board to Massively Borrow for New Schools, Additions

Hello, Yupette,

Arlington School Board held an important 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Program Work Session last night. According to presentations by Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Management Services Deirdre McLaughlin and Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and operations John Chadwick, the Arlington Public School System will be hard pressed to both borrow enough through issuing bonds and find enough sites to build all the new classrooms and other infrastructure the school system will need by FY 2022.

APS will not have enough borrowing capability to build the classrooms and other infrastructure needed by FY 22 when new classrooms are actually needed. The school system will need to borrow at least $450 million by FY 2022 for new and replacement infrastructure.

Regarding capacity, the school system plans significantly expand Abingdon Elementary School and build a new elementary school on County-owned land somewhere in South Arlington. (The school system is apparently not aware that a major infill redevelopment will occur at Park Shirlington, which is adjacent to Abingdon School, at the same time Abingdon School is expanded).

APS is considering repurposing existing school sites for a new middle school (HB Woodlawn and Arlington Traditional School are being considered).

APS thinks it can jam 2000 or more students into Wakefield, Yorktown, and Washington-Lee by repurposing interior space, and building an addition at W-L.

APS considered leasing commercial building space but found that option would be too expensive. The school system has apparently not considered buying and renovating an existing commercial building to be used as a school.

Details are going to be on the Arlington Public Schools Web site in the near future.

2100 too

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

County Board To School Board: Prepare for a Tax Rate Reduction, Cooperate with County Government

Hey Yupette,

County Board, School Board, and County Manager met last night at the School Board offices. Polls had just closed but the County Board was obviously getting reports from Democratic poll workers about the unhappiness of Arlington's Voters.

So, County Board informed the School Board that a real estate tax rate reduction is likely from the advertised rate. County Board also put the School Board on the the defensive about the per-student cost of educating Arlington's K-12 students compared to neighboring jurisdictions.

Because of numerous complaints the County Board hears from neighborhoods, which are not informed about the School System's plans for school expansion until plans are announced by School System planning staff, the County Board told the School Board that the County Board will have to be informed about School System planning decisions before the decisions are announced.

Finally, County Board Chair Fisette told the School Board that, because of the demands placed by New Urbanism, large areas of school open space (like school playgrounds) will have to be 'repurposed' for multiple sports-recreation purposes.

County Board Members Fisette, Hynes, and Tejada put the School Board on the defensive and there were several testy exchanges between County Board and School Board Members regarding County Board vs. School Board priorities.


Monday, April 7, 2014

We Have a Choice on April 8th: Bus Rapid Transit We Can All Live With...Or a Streetcar System to Die For


There are better and less expensive transit options for the Pike than a costly and ineffective streetcar. But the projected $400 million cost of a Pike streetcar system (eight times what a state-of-the-art off-the-shelf bus rapid system would cost) is only one part of the toll streetcars would exact on Arlington residents. It's obvious from what's occurring elsewhere that a shared street streetcar system is too dangerous for the Pike. Streetcar tracks alone would cause hundreds of injuries every year. Streetcar accidents involving vehicles of all types would cause dozens of accidents every year, some serious.

That's why it's important to elect John Vihstadt to the County Board on April 8th We need state-of-the-art bus alternatives on the Pike we can all live with, not a streetcar system to die for.