Arlington County Board members voted yesterday not to ask the Virginia General Assembly to create a housing finance agency for the county, but a state legislator said he will introduce the legislation nonetheless.
"The county staff needs time to come up with a simple mechanism," said Democratic Board Member John Milliken, saying it was too late for the board to devise and approve a specific plan for the proposed agency in time for a Jan. 3 meeting with state legislators. "It's clearly something we're going to have to talk about."
State Del. James Almand (D-Arlington) said later that despite the board's vote he will continue to press for a county housing finance agency that would be involved in rehabilition projects when the General Assembly convenes next month.He said he is confident his proposal will win the backing of the County Board after Democrats take control of it next month.
The County Board's Democratic members have argued for a housing agency that could issue tax-exempt bonds for renovations they say are necessary to preserve Arlington's deteriorating low- and moderate-income dwellings. Republicans who will lose control of the board Jan. 5 oppose the proposal, citing a 2-to-1 vote against creation of a county housing authority in the Nov. 2 election.
Board Vice Chairman Dorothy T. Grotos, a Republican, said a postponement of the measure would afford more time for public discussion. "There's no matter of life and death," Grotos said after a 20-minute session on the issue. "So why the big rush?"
Board members, calling an inital Democratic plan too broad, asked county officials earlier this week to present them with a more detailed outline of how the agency would be created. Yesterday, County Manager Larry Brown offered a report detailing a two-step process involving obtaining state authority for the agency and developing an ordinance to create it.