County Manager Mark Schwartz

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz speaks to County Board members.

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.

(1) comment

CJE

Essential public infrastructure replacement (e.g., water mains) will again be deferred for more non-essential recreational use infrastructure.

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