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Monday, October 13, 2008

Economic Downturn Forces County Budget Cuts

With the financial crisis showing no signs of easing, Arlington County has just released the details of a round of budget tightening:

Arlington County Institutes Hiring Freeze, Spending Reductions

Addresses $10 million budget gap in FY 2009 and projected FY 2010 gap

Arlington, VA --- Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee announced today an immediate hiring freeze and other spending reductions – the first steps to addressing what is projected to be a $10 million gap in the FY 2009 budget. This $10 million gap represents 1.6% of the general County government operations budget.

In addition, the shortfall for the Arlington Public Schools, which receives most of its funding from the County, is currently projected to be $7.5 million in FY 2009.

In a memo to County employees, Carlee explained, “As the nation’s economy faces some very dramatic challenges, we have conducted a thorough review of the County’s budget, paying close attention to the needs of our residents. While Arlington is much better positioned than many local governments in the region, we are not immune to the economic downturn.”

The memo orders:

  • An immediate hiring freeze.
  • Elimination of discretionary spending, the details of which will be released over the next two weeks. Meanwhile, Carlee asked staff to question every expenditure.
  • A detailed review of every service to determine what is mandated, what is essential to the community and what is discretionary.
  • Examination of alternative ways to provide services at lower cost through consolidation, partnership, or contracting.

In his memo, Carlee noted that the County is required by law to maintain a balanced budget and said “[s]ome programs and service levels valued by the community will not be affordable in these times of retrenchment.” Early analysis indicates continued revenue shortfalls for FY 2010.

Carlee will provide a public briefing on Arlington’s fiscal condition during the October 22 Recessed County Board Meeting. The County Board will adopt FY 2010 budget guidelines at its November meeting. In December and January, Carlee will provide financial updates, and will present his Recommended Budget at the February County Board meeting.


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