Arlington taxpayers would be asked to approve four bond referendums totaling just under $92 million in the November general election, as the county government pares back its capital-spending package to get through the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The four referendums, proposed by County Manager Mark Schwartz, would be in addition to any school-bond referendum that ends up on the Nov. 3 package. And Schwartz said he anticipates another bond referendum next year, as the county government plays catch-up.
For now, however, “we’ve decided to try and focus [capital spending] on those things that are either under way or we feel we really had no choice on,” Schwartz said in a briefing with County Board members.
Those board members in coming weeks are slated to approve a request of the Circuit Court to put the measures on the ballot.
More than half the total amount – $50.8 million – will be used to address stormwater-management issues. Additional bonds are being proposed for transportation and Metro ($30 million), infrastructure ($7.5 million) and parks ($3.6 million).
Arlington voters have not turned down a local bond since 1979.
The county government has a policy that debt service will not exceed 10 percent of the overall county-government budget (although how “county-government budget” has been defined has been somewhat elastic in recent years). Under the proposed capital-spending package unveiled by Schwartz, debt service would remain below 9 percent in the immediate future. Whether it might go higher will depend on future bond packages, the cost of borrowing and the overall county budget.