Arlington County Manager W. Vernon Ford proposed yesterday a $107 million budget for fiscal year 1977 that calls for no increases in either conutry services or real estate tax rates.
The proposed budget, up 9 per cent over last year, calls for a new 1 per cent county tax on restaurant meals which would bring the tax on eating out in Arlington to 5 per cent. This new 1 per cent tax must have legislative approval, however, and last week an authorization bill died in the Virginia House. Ford said county officals will have to decide whether to make further cuts in the budget or raise the real estate tax rate to make up for the $700,000 that was expected from the restaurant tax.
The $8.7 million increase in the proposed budget would have been met under Ford's proposal by the 1 per cent restaurant tax, a current budget surplus and an expected increase in tax collections.
Arlington's present real estate tax rate of $3.78 for each $100 of assessed value would not change under Ford's proposal. However, real estate tax collections will go up by $4.3 million largely because property values were reassessed last year to reflect rising real estate values. Arlington property is assessed at 40 per cent of its fair market value.
The increase will help pay higher utility bills, increased health insurance premiums, employee cost-of-living raises and other costs of inflation.
The budget proposes eliminating 16 of 1,600 positions in the county government. However, Ford said this will be done through attrition and transfer and no employee will be laid off.
The budget breaks down into $50.7 million for the county operating fund, $35.7 million for schools and the remaining $20.6 million for public transportation, debt service, community activities, utilities and capital improvements.
Board Chairman Joseph S. Wholey said he thinks the budget is too high and board members "have been concerned about the rate of growth' in the county government.
He said he expects the board members to carefully examine the proposed budget to determine if the 9 per cent increase is justified.
Board member John Purdy said the $35.7 million allocated for the county school system is inadequate. He said an increase in the proposed school budget is needed to improve the quality of the county schools.
School officials have asked for a much higher school budget. School Supt. Larry Cuban, who suggested four optional budgets for 1977-78, proposed a minimum school budget of $47.7 million. He said the $35.7 million school budget represented an "emergency level," which would merely continue the current operating level of the schools.
Dorothy Grotos, a Republican board members, said the proposed school budget in the county's manager's plan is sufficient because school enrollment in the county is declining. "Our county is changing a great deal. There are lots more problems - the elderly, Metro . . . I think the board should be fair to the whole county."
Under Ford's proposed budget, $5.1 million will be paid for Metrobus and rail operating deficits and metro bond debt service.
The budget also calls for the opening of the Aurora Highlands Center now under construction at 18th and Hayes Streets in South Arlington. The center will consolidate a branch library, fire station and recreation services now functioning at separate locations.
Ford expects a $500,000 surplus in the current budget.
The county manager said the proposed balanced budget is the result of austere measures. "There was lot of squeezing, pushing and hauling . . ."
The County Board last year increased the personal property tax levied on cars, boats, trailers and business equipment by a dollar - from $4.90 to $5.90 for each $100 of assessed valuation - help meet a $16 million deficit.